Thursday, 31 July 2008

Grammar Police: Words That Sound The Same Are Not The Same

So, I'm currently getting small amounts of money from our lovely government, and thanks to this I've discovered the reason Labour are going down the crapper: their grammar is awful. My benefits agreement says:

Must be willing to:
1. Travel at least 1.5 hours to work
2. Except jobs at minimum wage.

Now, where they say "at least", they mean "at most". Otherwise they would have found me a job in Sunderland or Abergavenny. And they would have told me not to apply for a job in the centre, because that's only twenty minutes away and I have to travel at least an hour and a half (I suppose I could drive round and round and round). And where they say "except" they of course mean "accept". They would like me to "accept" jobs at minimum wage. They do not want me to "except" them. They do not want me to come in and say, "Well, this place offered me a job, but it's only minimum wage, so I can't take it. You told me to except those jobs."

Memo to the Auditor: You got lots of points for your non-bigoted voting in the IVF and abortion bills. Please don't squander them with grammar like this. Sort it out.

Monday, 28 July 2008

Rape and Imprisonment - Such a Thigh-slapper!

Hi! Back. Blogger let me in without throwing a strop, so I'm still here. Pissed off as ever, of course.

The other night, I watched a new episode of Mock the Week, which is the hugely smug cousin of Have I Got News For You, but without the politics. I watch it mainly because of Dara O Briain, who manages to be side-splittingly funny without lapsing into "politically incorrect" and "edgy", which from what I've seen translates as "lazy". I used to watch it for both him and Andy Parsons, but I've gone right off him this series. For a start, he made a "John Prescott is wasting food" joke, which is unacceptable, and actually prompted Frankie fucking Boyle to point out that there is a difference between bulimia and eating so much you throw up.

I also counted several jokes about Josef Fritzl. Because that was HILARIOUS, wasn't it?? He locked his daughter up in a dungeon for 24 years and raped her over and again! Are you laughing yet? Locked up! Raped! Forced to give birth to her father's children! HA HA HA. Ooh, you're so clever. When asked for "Statements that would change the atmosphere at a dinner party", Parsons responded with, "Ignore the banging, she's been in there for 24 years!" I am furious that I paid twelve quid to see this guy. I was mildly pissed off at the time anyway because his entire act was comprised of jokes he'd previously done on the show. Grrr. But anyway, he made the Fritzl joke and people laughed. Because they're like, cool, and get references and stuff.

Here's what really threw me. Frankie Boyle, in the most recent episode, said: "Gordon Brown's wife's autobiography is going to be less eventful than Anne Frank's." And the audience HISSED. Every last one of them. No laughs, just a long, collective hiss. Compared to a lot of Boyle's jokes, this is pretty damn mild, but the audience hissed. I suppose I just don't understand why this - which happened more than sixty years ago - is beyond the pale, but a woman being imprisoned, repeatedly raped, having to give birth to her father's children in a dungeon and only getting out when one of them nearly died is HILARIOUS. Sure, the Anne Frank thing isn't in the best of taste, but Boyle is hardly the first person to make that kind of joke.

I went to see O Briain perform not so long ago, and an audience member attempted a Fritzl joke. We, of course, hissed at him, and O Briain, in his that's-not-nice-but-I'm-still-funny way, said, "Do you not think maybe it's a little bit soon for that?" Apparently, not anymore.

The Fritzl case is not like Anne Frank. It's not going to be high up in the public imagination for years to come. It's as though these comedians are desperate to seize on this particular bit of comedy gold while it's still hot. And the case broke a few months ago now - there are no more revelations, only little bits tucked away at the back, saying the children won't testify and he's looking at ten years max instead of ten years min - but apparently the story is SO DAMN FUNNY that these comedians have sat on these jokes for weeks, waiting for the show to come back on. "Oh, I know it's kind of old news now, but come on! Ignore the banging! I can't deprive the British public of that gem!"

Guys, not cool. Really not cool. I expect some high-quality Cameron gags next week or none of you are getting any of my money again, ever, even the ones that didn't make the jokes. Those that did - never again. I don't care how funny you are.

Dara? I still love you. I can't help it.

Friday, 11 July 2008


I may not be coming back.

Blogger is demanding I switch to a Google account (which, y'know, I have, but I REALLY do not like being forced into this stuff), and demanded it AFTER I HIT PUBLISH ON THE LAST PIECE then refused to let me back in insisting that my account did not exist. I quite like using Blogger, but there are tons of sites for starting a blog and I do not appreciate attempts to gain a monopoly over what I use. If I can't keep the blog on my old Hotmail, fuck it, I'll move.

It's just a blog, it's not a house. You really have no leverage here, Google.

Thursday, 10 July 2008

Bootstraps Cameron: It's All Your Fault

I am becoming extremely nervous about the prospect of this man running the country. I think it's more than likely, given the impression the Auditor has left on the public, but I am seriously considering leaving the country rather than living under Cameron's government. Poverty is poor people's fault. Obesity is all about dumb lazy fuckers stuffing their faces. It's terrible that we don't judge people anymore and we should be all about attacking people. Cameron himself is uniquely gifted to tell us what is right and what is wrong, with no reference to the law whatsoever. Cameron has also got where he is today by sheer hard work, nothing to do with private schools and Oxford and extremely expensive elitist clubs and being wafted into the leadership because he had hair. Good old Bootstraps Cameron, a shining example.

Listen, Bootstraps. Do you have any idea how hard it is to pull yourself out of poverty? When poverty is all you've ever known, you've gone to a substandard state school that failed to teach you anything useful, you left school at sixteen because education held no value for you, you were never encouraged to explore career options and you grow up exactly the same way your parents grew up because that's all you ever knew and all they ever knew, unless you're seriously exceptional, with brains, talent and drive, you're kind of stuck. Not that you would know.

What really worries me is that Cameron seems to think politicians are supposed to dictate a country's morals. This from the party of Jeffrey Archer! Bootstraps says: "There is a danger of becoming quite literally a de-moralised society, where nobody will tell the truth about what is good and bad, right and wrong." Erm, what? No, David. Just because you aren't telling people what's right and wrong doesn't mean the morals are leaking out of the country. We are hugely, hugely judgemental

EDIT: Blogger seems to have lost the end of this one. Not sure why. Bah.

Monday, 7 July 2008

The "20 Weeks" Shootdown

Nadine Dorries must be stopped. I mentioned this briefly earlier in Feminist Issue Week, but I feel it could use a more comprehensive attack.

So, the site linked has her "20 reasons" why abortion is all bad and wrong and kills babies and shit.

Reason One: "Public, parliamentary and medical opinion is changing on late abortion. 63% of MPs, two thirds of GPs, nearly two thirds of the public and more than three-quarters of women support a reduction in the 24-week upper age limit."

Bollocks: No source for any of this information is provided. Not even a link to highly biased anti-abortion site. For all we know, she could just have made this up. And if 63% of MPs support a reduction, why didn't Dorries' previous limit-reduction bill go through? Could it be that this is a big fat lie? Could it be that the only link marked "evidence" links to an article in the Telegraph written by Dorries herself? No, surely not.

Reason Two: "High profile cases of babies surviving well below 24 weeks like Manchester's Millie McDonagh, born at 22 weeks, and the world's most premature baby, Amillia Taylor, who was born a week younger, both in October 2006."

Bollocks: Ooh, two babies. Two! That's quite the case, Nads. Notice there is no mention here of severe medical problems, or the fact that - hmmm - one cannot in fact painlessly remove an unwanted live foetus from a woman, stick it in an incubator for four months and then put it up for adoption. Women are not incubators.

Reason Three: "High resolution 3D ultrasound images, pioneered by Professor Stuart Campbell, have shown babies in amazing detail 'walking', yawning, stretching and sucking their thumbs in the womb."

Bollocks: So fucking what? This isn't an argument, this is a stupid woolly "oh, but it's a baybeeeee!" line of reasoning. Foetuses are not doing these things in the way babies do them. This is the horrible emotional blackmail of trying to make vulnerable pregnant women believe that as soon as the egg implants, it's a real live baby. It's disgraceful, frankly.

Reason Four: "In top neonatal units, such as in Minneapolis, Minnesota, 80% of babies born at 24 weeks and 66% of babies born at 23 weeks will survive. Recent figures from University College London are similar."

Fucking MINNEAPOLIS. They'll survive in MINNEAPOLIS. For fuck's sake. We're already getting into the repetitive stuff: babies cannot be removed and incubated at this point, which means the woman would still have to go through an unwanted pregnancy for MONTHS and give BIRTH. Also, she yet again links to an article in a right-wing paper in which she herself is quoted extensively. If you're trying to get the law changed, you can't be so fucking sloppy.

Reason Five: "Recent research, such as that by Professor Sunny Anand from the University of Arkansas, has shown that fetuses are well enough developed to feel pain down to 18 weeks gestation."

Bollocks: Yet again, her link is a Daily Mail article which is mostly about her. Not the actual research. Oh, no, we couldn't have that. Also, you can find one person with the title "Professor" who supports any crazy belief. And really, you'd think she could find more than one, because a lot of research goes into this stuff, and why is 80% of her data American? Minnesota? Arkansas?

Reason Six: "Mothers first feel their babies kick at 19 weeks in a first pregnancy and at 17 weeks in a later pregnancy."

Bollocks: That's not an argument. That's stupid emotional blackmail. She just wanted to get "mother" and "baby" into it somewhere. Next.

Reason Seven: "Stories of babies born alive after botched abortions, as young as 16 weeks, are increasingly common and have understandably shocked the public."

Bollocks: All this says to me is that doctors aren't getting enough training. She implies with this that actual live children are produced, as opposed to almost-dead foetuses with no chance whatsoever. Also, this didn't shock me. Frankly, I'd never heard of this, and I keep a pretty close watch on this stuff.

Reason Eight: "The number of abortions carried out between 20 and 24 weeks has been rising in recent years. Lowering the limit to 20 weeks for normal babies will save almost 2,300 young lives per year."

Bollocks: What do you mean "young lives"? It's not a kid, it's a foetus. This one depends entirely on you already believing that it's a kid and has always been a kid. I don't. I'd rather the abortion rate rose than the number of unwanted kids rose. Also, the Telegraph article she links is the most disgusting piece of misogynistic crap. The thrust of it is essentially "women are dirty sluts and unfeeling bitches".

Reason Nine: "Leading public figures including Opposition leader David Cameron are calling for a cut to at least 20 weeks."

Bollocks: Ha! David fucking Cameron is her next reason! I don't even understand why this is important. She's already pretended, sorry, stated using hard, well-sourced and appropriately-linked data, that at least two thirds of everyone supports her campaign, so why does she need to say, "Oh, and he does, too! You've heard of him!"

Reason Ten: "Britain has the most liberal abortion laws in Europe. A termination can be obtained up to 24 weeks of pregnancy - double the limits in France and Germany and six weeks later than in Sweden or Norway."

Bollocks: Erm, so what? Again, this only works if you already think it's an awful, horrible thing. I think this reflects badly on France and Germany (12 weeks? Really? I'd love to know stats for death-by-illegal-abortion from these countries), and it makes me proud that my country is supporting women's rights better than our friends across the channel. It also makes me nervous about the EU, to be honest.

Reason Eleven: "The methods required to abort a post 20 week baby are abhorrent. To avoid a live birth a lethal injection is given into the baby’s heart through the mother’s abdominal wall. The baby is then delivered stillborn or is surgically dismembered and removed from the uterus limb by limb."

Bollocks: More fucking emotional blackmail, and only works if you believe all abortion is infanticide, which it's NOT. Jesus, Nads. Must try harder.

Reason Twelve: "A recent Royal College of Psychiatrists report acknowledges a link between abortion and mental illness. This is worse with late abortions, especially those for fetal abnormality."

Bollocks: What the fuck does that mean? Well, it's a proper link (as in, it takes you to the Royal College of Psychiatrists and not the Daily Mail), and says nothing of the sort. It says "mental disorders can occur for some women during pregnancy and after birth." So, perhaps, it's just that pregnancy can be a pretty bloody traumatic thing to go through. It also says there is no conclusive evidence about links between abortion and mental disorders (NOT mental illness - depression is a mental disorder, but our Nads makes it sound like abortion gives you schizophrenia) and says nothing at all about late abortions or foetal abnormality. She's even spelling 'foetal' the American way, for God's sake. I now know why she hasn't given proper links for any of her other 'reasons'.

Reason Thirteen: "The vast majority of late abortions (after 16 weeks) take place in private clinics but are classified as ‘NHS Agency’ (ie charged to the NHS). Abortions over 20 weeks cost from £1,300 to £1,600 each and there are inevitably financial vested interests involved."

Bollocks: This one is an absolute fucking disgrace. It's like saying that hospitals try to convince you that you need major operations when you don't, because they'll get paid more. This borders on libel, frankly. How dare she accuse doctors of putting off abortions to get more money? Ugh.

Reason Fourteen: "Babies are now undergoing surgery in the womb under 24 weeks, the photograph of Samuel Armas having surgery at 21 weeks for spina bifida has received international attention."

Bollocks: This has nothing to do with anything, except that she wanted to crowbar another real kid in here. That's not a reason. It also reinforces the idea that women aren't really people when they're pregnant, because that must have been a terrible experience for her.

Reason Fifteen: "Very few if any UK graduates are now willing to perform abortions beyond 16 weeks. Almost all doctors performing late abortions in the UK, in BPAS clinics, are from overseas."

Bollocks: And suddenly, we run out of links. How does she know this? Apparently, that's not important. It seems pretty xenophobic to me - "it's those bastard foreigners! You hate foreigners, right?"

Reason Sixteen: "A Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) guideline, supporting an upper limit of 24 weeks, was published in 2004 and needs to be updated in line with the latest evidence on fetal sentience, ultrasound and neonatal survival."

Bollocks: No links to this 'latest evidence'. I maintain that ultrasound is irrelevant, neonatal survival is irrelevant given that the foetus (you're British, Nadine! It's got a fucking O in it!) will generally have to remain in the unwilling woman's body for months on end. I think foetal sentience is bollocks, too, since she seems to relate that directly to the ultrasound stuff. Notice that an actual medical body supported 24 weeks and some crazy MP with no actual fucking work to do is claiming it's wrong. Was she supporting 24 weeks in 2004? I might have to go a-hunting for that information.

Reason Seventeen: "The British Medical Association’s opposition to lowering the limit is not supported by the majority of its members and almost 1,000 BMA members recently signed a petition against attempts to further liberalise BMA policy."

Bollocks: What a confusing sentence. She offers no evidence of the limit not being supported by the majority of BMA members. She does link to the petition, however. The petition invited ME to sign it, and I don't have squat to do with the BMA. This has nothing to do with the Associaton's members at all - it can be signed by any arse on the internet. This woman is such a fucking liar.

Reason Eighteen: "Pregnancy testing kits are freely available at chemists and there is now little excuse for not diagnosing pregnancy long before 20 weeks."

Bollocks: What the fuck? Ooh, because Superdrug sells pregnancy tests, there's 'little excuse' for not knowing you're pregnant. Well, if you're not looking for a fucking pregnancy, that's not necessarily true, is it? Some women don't put much weight on. Some women still have periods. Oh, and you know that foetal abnormality thing? Not so easy to diagnose early. But we can't say that, because then you couldn't blame all the stupid women, could you? Fucking hell, the tone of that 'reason'! I feel like a nine-year-old at a Catholic school being told off by a nun for not doing her homework.

Reason Nineteen: "The House of Commons Science and Technology Committee’s report recommending retention of the 24 week upper limit was heavily influenced by pro-abortion witnesses."

Bollocks: She links to a Times article. The article talks about the report which was published (it also recommended scrapping the "two doctors must give permission" law and allowing nurses to perform the procedure), which two MPs disagreed with. Can you guess the name of the female one? That's right, Nadine is linking to her own opinions YET AGAIN. For fuck's sake.

Reson Twenty: I can't write this one out, because Reason Twenty is a picture of a foetus face.

Bollocks: Nadine has run out of ideas, and has to resort to pictures. Her brain has melted from all this meticulous research she's been doing. A picture of a foetus face is not an argument. The foetus face comes from the Life Institute. That'll convert the waverers nicely, Nads.

Then she says that all evidence points to cutting the limit, and links to her own fucking article. Really, Nadine. If "all evidence" points that way, show me some of it. Show me any of it. "Evidence" is neither your opinion nor legitimate sources which say nothing related to what you claim they say. If you're going to try and wrest control of my body and hand it over to David Cameron, you're going to have to try harder than that.

Thursday, 3 July 2008

Out-of-Touch Old Gits: Women are Mush-Brains

To continue with Feminist Issue Week, I'm going to yell at some people.

In this article, which I strongly recommend, we learn that Theo Paphitis of Dragons' Den fame is an arsehole.

"All this feminist stuff," he said, "are we seriously saying that 50% of all jobs should go to women?" Paphitis went on to note that women "get themselves bloody pregnant and ... they always argue that they'll be working until the day before, have the baby, go down to the river, wash it off, give it to the nanny and be back at work the following day, but sure enough, their brains turn to mush, and then after the birth the maternal instincts kick in, they take three months off, get it out of their system and are back to normal". On the subject of paternity leave he suggested that he thinks "it's a bit soppy".

Yes, this "feminist stuff". It's shit, isn't it? No, of course 50% of jobs shouldn't go to women, it's not as though they're half the population or, y'know, people. Also, women somehow get themselves pregnant (how does that work?). Also notice that he seems to believe it's totally reasonable for a woman to have a baby, jump straight out of the hospital bed and goback to work, as though they haven't actually undergone an enormously painful, body-altering experience and pushed a bloody person out themselves. Note that taking three months off is considered insane and the result of "brains turning to mush".

On top of that, the contempt with which he mentions nannies suggests that even if we could jump out of the hospital bed and go straight back to work, it wouldn't do anything to push up his respect for us as a gender. My partner and I quite like Dragons' Den and I distinctly remember watching an episode in which a woman pitching them made a snarky remark about the nanny doing the work. Paphitis, who has five kids, immediately stopped her and said, "There's no nanny. There's just Mrs P." Two of the other dragons (five kids and six kids respectively) immediately fell over themselves to make clear that they had never, ever hired child-rearing help. For five fucking kids. And Paphitis thinks paternity leave is "soppy" so God knows he's not helping out. His poor wife. Can't get any help from anyone. Looking after the kids is the mother's job and only the mother's job, goddammit. He's big and important and has businesses to run. Including, amusingly, multiple lingerie companies. You'd think it wouldn't be in his best interests, especially taking into account his personal celebrity, to make disparaging remarks about his entire target market. And lingerie shops have to have, well, bra-fitters. The entire staff has to be female, really, and he's so unconcerned with them that he's quite willing to go out and call them mush-brains to the entire world. Guess where I won't be buying my lingerie anymore. I'd write and tell him, but he'd probably assume I was just a pregnant mush-head. Screw it, I'm going to do it anyway. La Senza, Contessa, you will be hearing from me.

Alan Sugar, apparently, thinks it's disgraceful that he's not allowed to hire based on whether or not a woman wants a family (and presumably, if she says no and then gets pregnant, he can fire her), and that to cut all the crap out, he just doesn't hire women. Just in case they get pregnant. I think that might be kind of illegal, but nobody will tell him off because he's on the telly. He doesn't think it should be illegal, because successful businesses can collapse under the strain of having to phone a temp agency and ask for someone who wants six months' work. How useless is he? We all know Alan Sugar is out of touch (email phone, anyone? All the convenience of email with none of that computer/internet stuff! You wouldn't think he made his money in bloody computers), but Jesus Christ. Has the man ever left 1972?

Edited to remove incorrect information.

Tuesday, 1 July 2008

My Vulva Is Not Your Work of Art

So, to start Feminist Issue Week, let's go with this one, the empowering vaginoplasty. I was confronted with this over breakfast on Sunday. What we have here is a doctor, apparently known to some as "Dr Sex" (I'm sorry, but he gave that name to himself, I don't care what he says), who wants to help women by cutting up their privates and reshaping them to eighteen-year-old porn star standards. This is so great for women, and he's totally doing it because he cares.

"He wants to talk about his work, which is proudly displayed in a series of ring binders. It is not my usual choice of pre-breakfast viewing. “Look at that — excess tissue along the clitoris. Now, see how clean and sleek that is. The minora: nice and neat.”"

First of all, ew. Second of all, clean and sleek and nice and neat? I'm not a bloody designer vase. But he's very proud of these cloned vulvas. What does it involve, doctor?

“I have procedures that I pioneered, trademarked and have developed over the past 12 years. Laser vaginal rejuvenation, for the enhancement of sexual gratification. Designer laser vaginoplasty, for the aesthetic enhancement of the vulva structures. I also do liposculpting.”

Again, ew. It really, really freaks me out when anyone uses the word "designer" to refer to reproductive parts. And it's always women's reproductive parts, too - men get their share of the surgical enhancement crap, but I've never come across "designer penis" ads. Anyway, this guy is a multimillionaire and charges tens of thousands of pounds to reshape and revitalise.

"A self-styled, can-do crusader for women, he sees his role as one of liberating women from the tyranny of sexual inadequacy and disappointment. By arming us with the tools for total physical dominion over our private parts, he is, to his mind, setting us free."

ARGH. Argh, argh, argh, ARGH. A crusader for women? How are you a crusader for women if you earn your living from telling them the most intimate parts of their body are weird and gross and need fixing? Also, he's not arming us with the tools for total physical dominion over our private parts. By doing this, HE is the one with total physical dominion over our private parts. He's the one with the tools, and he's cutting us up with them, to make us look like his previous works. A ring binder full of identical vaginas. It's like a really twisted version of Argos.

“My customers say, ‘You know what, I don’t like the length of my labia minora. I don’t want the small lips projecting outside the outer lips.’ We can take that excess skin away. They say, ‘I don’t want my labia majora. They’re too flat, I want them full.’ We can inject fat there. Or, ‘I’ve got too much fat in my mons pubis. It looks like I have a penis.’ And we can do that. Or, ‘I’ve had children, I’m too relaxed, I want intense sexual gratification’, so we tighten the muscle. Or, simply, ‘I just look too old.’ Because it's all about youth, youth, youth.”

Oh, for fuck's sake. I wouldn't mind betting that nobody has ever come into his office and said "You know what, I've got too much fat in my mons pubis". Nobody says "mons pubis". The idea that women are actually sitting around with little hand mirrors between their legs, poking their labia and panicking about lack of plumpness, panicking to the extent that they have to call a doctor and pay thousands of pounds to have them fattened up frightens me more than I can say. Whether it's just come from watching porn, or from horrible partners, or from the nagging insecurity that they're wrong, the magazines have told them that so few women have great vaginas, that they have to go and ask a man who knows. A feminist crusader, no less. Am I wrong? Yes, you are. You have flat labia, you ugly bitch, says the feminist crusader.

"He does hymen repair, but doesn’t talk about it since receiving death threats from religious groups."

I'm not sure what the worst part of this sentence is. I can't stand the stupid virginity cult, and since some women legitimately fear for their lives if they don't bleed like hell on the wedding night and give the man something to show for it, this is the one part of the surgery I could, under these circumstances, understand (it's still vile, though). But for a feminist crusader, this seems cowardly in the extreme. Stand up for your damn patients. No points for anybody here.

He also does a rather bizarre procedure called the G-Shot, which involves sticking collagen into the G-spot, or what is assumed to be the G-spot. I don't know much about the existence or lack thereof of a G-spot, because I am lazy and do not research. He reckons this collagen idea is brilliant and 87% of people report more sexual pleasure. The journalist amusingly points out that this figure comes from a study of 20 people. 87% of 20 people? I don't get science.

Some say there is no G-spot, or that it only exists in a certain number of women.

“I would say that every woman does have one. Reports like that . . . it’s as if men want to take pleasure away from women.”

Go Feminist Crusader! We all have G-spots that are insufficiently pleasurable naturally and must have plumping agent stuffed in there! It's totally about our pleasure and not about his profits at all! Hooray!

The journalist asks, helpfully, if this is maybe not about us and more about piling the paranoia on in a world that's already full of the stuff.

“Look, demand for these treatments comes from women,” he says. “I didn’t create it, the market was there, and I discovered it because I listened to women. Every single one of the procedures has been developed because it has been requested. And it’s going international. There is demand.”

You know, I find this remarkably hard to believe. I know that some women are hugely insecure about the way their privates look, and would give anything to have something done about it, but not only is correcting these apparent faults not a helpful or feminist action, but also this man is operating a business. Businesses must have customers. Without vulvas to inject, he's fucked. He needs us, and he must convince us that we need him too. That's what success is all about. He has an enormous vested interest in instilling paranoia, nurturing it and making sure it doesn't die. There is no way in hell he could be a multi-millionaire in a world where women aren't made to feel insecure about this and no alternative route is publicised. He knows damn well what he's doing here.

Apparently he has a couple of UK customers a month, but we have no stats about vaginoplasty over here because it doesn't really happen. He thinks (and this is fucking brilliant) that this isn't because we don't need it, it's because we're weird. He blames our healthcare system. No, he does. And this man is from the stupidly rich nation where people die because they can't afford medical care. I mean, I rag on the NHS as much as anyone, but thank God we're not in America. He, however, thinks we should envy Americans because they can spend all their money on a designer vagina - I hate that phrase with a rhyming passion - and then die of whatever when their money and insurance runs out.

"Also, the mentality of the doctors — they work so hard, they have no life. Doctors here are entrepreneurial, in the first place."

Yeah, our doctors are fucking weird. Wanting to save lives and shit. Who cares if people die, so long as they die with diamond-encrusted genitals? Seriously, this is disgusting. Who the hell thinks like this?

"It isn’t just the fault of the doctors. Some of the blame must also be laid at the feet of British women. Matlock is frustrated by the modesty of his British patients when it comes to that part of their anatomy. “My UK patients are so shy. They say, ‘Women in the UK would never talk about this.’ The attitude is, ‘That’s how it is. You were born like that, so leave it alone.’ That’s why they come here. Here, the culture is 100% different.”"

Well, thank fuck for that. How dare we be modest about it? It's not like we keep it covered up and hidden from view all the time, and only the people we really trust are allowed to see it or anything. Oh, wait. I cannot believe "you were born like that, so leave it alone" is a bad thing in this context.

He goes on about the whole tighter vagina = better sex thing, which the journalist points out is crap. We read a testimonial from a happy customer. She wanted to be like a nineteen-year-old, which makes me sad for her self-esteem.

"Back in Matlock’s office, we’re poring over pictures of a Playboy model displaying what he calls “a beautiful structure”. Matlock's hands-down bestseller is laser vaginal labioplasty, and it’s this kind of image, he claims, that inspires women. “Women bring in this pornographic information — I have drawers of it — and they say, ‘That is what I wanna see.’ That’s what women want to see after rejuvenation.”"

I don't know about you, but I feel sick. Women watch porn, feel inadequate, and come to him. He confirms their fears and takes a huge chunk of money. Women want to look like porn stars. WHY?

"Dr Toby Mayer is a plastic surgeon working in Beverly Hills. “If someone has a functional problem with their vagina, then they should have reconstructive surgery,” he says. “But who can say what a vagina should look like? I am 66 years old. I have never, in all my life, ever heard a man say,‘I saw this woman, she had an ugly vagina.’ Never. To tell someone otherwise is to promote body dysmorphia. What is the mentality of this person? It’s not progressive, it’s entrepreneurial. It’s about money. And doctors should never be about the money.”"

Read that again. And again, and again. Thank God for him. I have not lost faith in all doctors. And, thankfully, even "Dr Sex" himself has to admit that no, men do not care if your vagina looks like that of a teenage porn star. He's quite sad about it, though. We end on some horrible motivational-speaker thing about perfection, and then some even more horrible stuff about French women having toned pelvic floors.

I really hate this wave of people who say and do horrifically anti-feminist things, and then try and pretend they're trying to help us. We've had people who think women shouldn't be working, and tell us that they're on our side, because we don't really want to be working. This "I correct women because they want to be corrected" stuff has been all over the place forever, trying to sell us an image of the person we could be if only we bought this, or went there, or did that. We are supposed to accept without question that breast implants can be empowering if a woman really, truly wants them (and I'm not about to psychoanalyse any of these women, but empowering? No. Confidence-boosting, perhaps) and I am pretty worried that one day soon I will be expected to accept without question that if a woman really, truly wants this man to re-mould her vagina in his signature style, then more power to her. It's inevitable that vaginoplasty will migrate over here, but I wish I could keep it out. Whatever this guy says, we clearly don't need it here, otherwise there would be actual demand for it. We seem to run enough plastic surgery clinics, and if enough of their patients, unsubjected to the hard sell, had asked for this sort of thing, they would have found someone to do it. It's all about profit.

What it is emphatically NOT about is empowering us. It's also not about what we want. This man knows what he thinks a good vagina looks like. It's not like a haircut, or even a nose job - one size will damn well fit all here. There is one image of symmetrical, youthful perfection. What if you like your flat labia? You think he'll encourage you in that, or will he break out his ring binder and say, in wheedling tones, "Oh, but darling, see how much better you could look"? The only reason this is being marketed as personal empowerment is because, by his own admission, men couldn't care less if there's fat in your mons pubis (I don't even understand this one, frankly) - if they did care, the good doctor would be working that angle for all he's worth. We all know that what other people think is far more important than what we think, at least when it comes to our own appearance, and if there was a viable "don't you want to give him this gift?" or "well, you can leave it alone if you want, but it's the kind of thing guys whisper about in pubs" selling point, the empowerment spiel would be out the window. He doesn't care about us, he wants money. Of course he wants money. That's understandable. But for the love of God, admit you're in it for the money. Don't pretend you're in it for us, because you know you're not. You know this is nothing but a breeding ground for insecurity and panic and self-loathing and looking at as much porn as possible trying to work out what the 'perfect' vagina looks like. And then we come to you and you say "Let me help you, I want to help you." And we believe that we're wrong, and funny-looking, and can never have sex ever again because what will he say? And you smile, and you fix us, and you take £40,000. And you get to tell the whole world that you're on our side.

I am not here to be shaped and moulded into someone else's idea of perfect. Not a stranger's, not a doctor's, not my partner's. And whatever the good doctor may say about the woman's decisions, it's not. He gets to reshape and remould every woman to have the "structure" and the "lines" that he thinks a woman should have. I am a person, and I am not your work of art. In fact, I'm one of those Englishwomen you hate so much - I was fucking born like this, so leave me the fuck alone.

It's Feminist Issue Week!

This week at LLS, I am going to yell at misogynistic arseholes. It'll be nice for my imaginary readers to have a respite from all this bishop stuff, anyway. I'm going to shove in a few links and go more in-depth later.

First we have this from The Guardian, about misogynistic arseholes, including one of the guys from Dragon's Den.

Then we have this from the Sunday Times Style magazine. We learn that vaginoplasty is empowering to women, and more women should do it so that we can we can feel confident with our genitalia. You have no idea how cross I am about this.

I also feel that the 20 Weeks campaign could use a little step-by-step shooting down.

I'm keeping half an eye on responses to the so-called "discrimination bill" which aims to balance out the male/female workplace ratio. If you want to see my favourite headline on the subject, go here. For the link-phobic - "White Men To Face Jobs Ban". Seriously.

And because I just can't seem to leave the poor bishops alone, we learn here that the idea of female bishops (I can't say "women bishops", it doesn't make grammatical sense. Why is it a "male model" but a "woman bishop"?) is so horrendous and awful that they will LEAVE THE CHURCH if women are allowed into their little club. "Screw you, God, I gotta run before the women show up." If female bishops must be ordained, they would like to be exempted from having to take orders from a woman. I promise I won't make this into an entire post, but for fuck's sake.

More to come, with the sad inevitability of a world that just doesn't like women very much. If by any chance anybody is reading this, and has any further links to drop in, please feel free.