Anybody who actually waded through my rant about sex will have seen that I was planning on going to a public meeting on abortion rights.
For once, I actually did what I said I was going to, and, even better, I found my Mum a birthday present beforehand. Which was useful, as I’d kind of forgotten that her birthday was this month.
Anyway, so I went to the Houses of Parliament – and you know, for somebody that identifies as a Londoner, I’m really not very good. I seriously had no idea how close together everything all was, and, what’s worse, I was genuinely surprised to walk past Downing Street on the way.
Obviously I’m living more on Planet Rachel than in London at the moment.
However. I got there, I queued, I watched the Met. (London’s very own police force, aren’t we lucky?!) get progressively more and more uneasy with the number of women coming to infiltrate the Houses of Parliament, and I wandered around gawping at statues, like a tourist.
We got moved from one room to another because too many of us turned up, and then we kept coming so they started putting people back into the room we’d just left, and in the end, we had two meetings, in two different rooms, with the same speakers at the same time.
Because feminism is nothing if not logical, dammit!
The crowd was excellent, too. A handful of men – mostly young, and nobody over 40, I’d say – trying not to look frightened, or inadvertantly hold posters with the strapline “keep your laws off my body”. And women of all shapes, sizes, ages and colours. Which was nice.
We had the crazy women who sat in the corner muttering, because you always get a couple of crazies at any big event. We had the typical “Chelsea girls”, very fashionable and with very irritating voices (I try not to hold it against people, but when they’re standing right next to me…!). We had a hell of a lot of studenty types. We had the Socialist Workers Party people, selling newspapers as always (I do wonder whether they care what they attend, sometimes). We had women who’d protested about the same thing way back in ’78. We had the radical protesters with mohicans and dyed red hair. Dammit, I want red hair! We had businesswoman types, amusing me greatly when they got fired up. And we had me.
It was wonderful that it didn’t seem to be exclusive. It wasn’t all middle class, or all white, or all old, or anything. It was just women. All different types.
And it was great.
I heard phrases like “the patriarchy” used casually as though we’d all know what it meant.
So I was happy.
I heard that the pro-choice movement had cross-party support, which made me even happier, especially when one of the speakers said “it’s a particular pleasure to have thinking conservatives”. It made me chuckle.
Possibly most amusingly, I was in the same room as a man whose first words after being introduced were,
“I’m not normally known as ‘Dr. Evan Harris’ – I’m normally known by the Daily Mail as ‘Doctor Death’“.*
*Disclaimer: Do not visit that link if you want any sensible information. In fact, the article is so amusingly bad, I may break it down at some point, in order to scoff.
Personally, I found him to be intelligent, articulate and sensible. But hey – I’m a crazy, hairy-legged feminist – what do I know?!
Rather embarressingly, I’ve forgotten the full name of the woman whose speech I enjoyed most. I think she was called Dianne, but evidently I should have written this down!
Her points were beautifully put, and she was fantastic.
Her main point was this: That it is those same people who so loudly and vehemently protest about “the rights of the unborn child”, who want nothing to do with that child once it is born. You will never see them voting for a universal childcare system, or extra child benefits, or anything else that would benefit real, living children. And therefore, since their actions show where their words do not that they do not care about the rights of any child or foetus, one is left to conclude that their attack on abortion is aimed at the only other party – women. Not anything to do with children at all.
She got a very, very loud round of applause for that, as you can imagine.
Anyway. I went to this to get more information, which I have. I feel I have more of an understanding of what is happening, and this pleases me. And I have websites to visit:
- Abortion Rights*
- Antenatal Results and Choices
- British Pregnancy Advisory Service
- Doctors for a Woman’s Choice on Abortion
- Education for Choice
- Family Planning Association
- Marie Stopes International
- Pro-Choice Forum
- Reproductive Health Matters
- Voice for Choice
* Abortion Rights has a model letter that you can download to send to your MP, if you live in the UK. The MPs that were present at the meeting say that personal letters really do make a difference, and can help stiffen resolve, so please, if you can do this, do.
Also, it will help to counteract the lovely, intelligent, adult tactics used by the anti-abortion crowd, who last time round sent every single MP a plastic foetus in the post. Nice.
There are going to be rallies, lobbies, general shouty things. If I can possibly get involved, this meeting has shown me how important it is.
And then it’s just one small step before we take over the world!!!!!
Does anybody else remember that song?
I think it marks you out as an ’80′s kid; “Let’s talk about sex, baby/ Let’s talk about you and me”. Or something.
Anyway. I had (have) a kind of love-hate thing going on with that song. Firstly because I only remember those two lines, and occasionally I get them stuck in my head. And they’re bloody annoying. Also, I hate the word “baby” as a term of endearment. If you’re having sex, or thinking about having sex, they should be a grown up, for goodness’ sake!
But then again, at least it’s being reasonable. At least it’s asking to talk.
So let’s talk about sex.
Vibracobra over at Mind the Gap has written lots on the subject, and the need for a new sexual revolution. As has Amy at Scorpio Risen. Which is nice. I suggest that people go and read, because it’s all very well done.
So we have these problems.
That people don’t know what “real” sex is. That they think it’s icky. That it’s two-dimensional and restrictive. That there’s too much choice. That people are “doing it” too young. That they’re not being careful. That they don’t know how to be careful.
Look, sex is… sex.
It’s everything and nothing.
Everything because everybody is different and one person’s fantasy is another person’s joke, one person’s crush is another person’s spotty younger brother, one person’s fetish is another person’s… I don’t know… dirty clothes pile…
and so it can never quite be summed up.
Nothing because it’s not the most important thing in the world. And nothing because it can’t be pinned down, boxed up (unless you like that, of course!) so it’s in some strange way intangible.
It’s everywhere and nowhere.
Everywhere because it’s a selling point. Because breasts make us look at things, because certain women in certain positions can sell just about anything.
Because even the heterosexual sex-orientated magazines for women say that having a sexy woman, rather than a sexy man, on their cover boosts their sales. Because only gay magazines feature sexy men on the cover.
Nowhere because it’s all fake. It’s a myth. Hardly any of us look like, act like, are those women. We don’t have tits like that and arses like that and pouts like that. Men do exist, although you’d find it hard to believe, considering their scarcity in the sexy advertising world. All kinds of different sexualities do exist.
And the world keeps turning, people are still having sex and having the babies to prove it. So the lies that are thrown at us, that we need tits like that and arses like that and pouts like that, that the few men in the world want, need, expect these things – it’s not true!
Think about real sex that you’ve really had. With yourself, if nobody else.
Was it perfectly sanitised, perfectly placed, perfectly proportioned, perfectly choreographed?
Or was it better than that?
Because sex is many things, but generally physical – and one of the nice things about it being physical is the number of different sensations. And isn’t that good, that maybe you could remember the way your partner(s) smelt, or tasted, or sounded, or looked, or felt?
That you could think the same of yourself?
Please, let’s just get over our hang-ups about sex. Seriously. There are more important things to think about.
Oh, I know it’s a meaningful debate and some things do need to be thought about and ….. good. Well done.
Sex is sex. People are different. Don’t punish people for being different. Make sure it’s all safe and consensual and informed. Done. Let’s move on now.
Let’s talk about related things, like rights and responsibilities. Like the way we need to be shouting out about wanting our right to abortion (if you’re interested, please go to this thing. I will be.) Or whatever it may be. Let’s talk about what else we can be doing.
Let’s talk about the way feminism should be for everybody’s benefit. That actually it’s a bit worrying when we all start in-fighting, and the only people that give a damn are the Men’s Rights Activists who are laughing at us.
Let’s talk about the way that despite all of our growling, rich white men are still at the top. What are we waiting for? Do we just stay as we are until they all die off?
Let’s talk about the way we’re still teaching our kids bad habits, that the minute you tell that little boy that he looks “girly” with his hair over his eyes, you’re harming that next generation’s chances to be better.
Let’s talk about sex, baby?
Well…. actually…. yes, but –
Let’s talk about something other than sex, too, gorgeous!
I wouldn’t normally want religion to enter the happy little world I have going here, but a couple of days ago I had a very, very frustrating argument with a convert. I was hungry at the time, which didn’t help. So, for the record, this is where I am in the God-bothering stakes:
1: I don’t believe in God.
You can argue whatever damned theory you like, I don’t give a shit. I still don’t believe in God. That’s why it’s a belief system – it’s a faith. At some point, you have to just believe. It’s just that my “just believing” is in the opposite direction to yours, Mr. Convert.
(Also, if we’re going with the creation theory — the one that says, essentially, “everything must have had a creator. Except God, who is mysteriously exempt” — I say, what’s the difference between you taking the cut-off point as “except God” and me taking the cut-off point as “except the universe”?)
2: I heartily dislike going into any church.
Make of that what you will – maybe I’m just to sinful to like it. Rather like vampires can’t enter churches. Except in real life, and without the pointy teeth and immortality.
Or maybe, just maybe, I feel that it’s disrespectful.
Because I can see that it is a holy place for many people, and I feel nothing for it. It makes me uncomfortable, as though I’m intruding.
Especially when, as part of the service, I am required to say that I believe in God. (I didn’t say it, by the way. Because that would be lying.)
3: I don’t think Christianity (or indeed Judaism or Islam) have a particularly good track record when it comes to tolerance.
I can’t really comment on the other major religions – Hinduism, Sikhism, Buddhism… – because I simply don’t know enough.
But it’s easy to see that the more “Western” religions don’t do so well.
All this stuff about gay people being sinful and perverted, and about a woman’s place being, well, wherever she’ll shut the fuck up, and how every other religion is doomed to the fiery depths of Hell, and….
No. Just no.
I happen to think that if you want to believe there are little happy pixies in the bottom of your garden that created the world, that’s fine and lovely.
Just don’t try to foist your happy little pixies on me.
So why is it that when organised religion gets involved, suddenly anybody believing in the happy pixies are [heathens/ heretics/ infidels/ fucking stupid] and liable to [death by stoning/ banishment/ media stereotyping/ attempts at "saving their souls"]?
Why can’t they just live and let live?
More to the point, why on earth would I want to get involved with an organisation that actively goes against my most major form of politics — feminism? Which leads me on to…
4: I am a feminist.
And as such – athough (because I always feel I should put this disclaimer) I don’t speak for every feminist or indeed any particular feminist ‘ideology’ – I have a lot of ideals that set me at odds with organised religion.
Such as, the fact that I am unapologetically in favour of premarital sex. Which seems to be a fairly common no-no in religious circles.
Or the fact that I regard the right to an abortion as a very good thing.
Or the fact that I don’t believe that women should either “submit to their husbands”, nor “be their husband’s better half”. The former because – oh, just fuck off if you can’t see why that annoys me – and the latter because it’s yet another example of men being given the implied OK to behave badly – they are the “worse half”, logically, after all. And I, as the woman, should just forgive their faults, because hey, I’m “better”, I can afford to seem magnanimous.
Both of those examples come from the man who was trying to convert me, by the way.
I could go on in this department. But I’m sure you get the gist.
So, without the faith, without finding any comfort in the holy buildings, communities or ideals…
Tell me, why on earth I would want to convert?
This is American.
The age of consent in America is 18.
That girl is a girl; ie, a lot younger than 18.
And she’s wearing a T-Shirt with the words “Mike’s Girl” above a heart-framed picture of a guy (presumably ‘Mike’) with his arms around her.
And a pair of knickers with the word “Mike’s” on it.
WHAT. THE. FUCK????
She’s practically prepubescant!
And some dickhead has decided to use her in an advert to market “sexy clothing” that clearly implies that both she and her cunt (presumably for sexual purposes) are the property of “Mike”, whoever the fuck “Mike” is.
This is what feminism is about – protecting girls and women from the crap that flies their way every single day, just because their genitalia goes in instead of out.
The man who wrote a four hundred word column entitled My Girlfriend Didn’t Like Porn.
Sadly, I threw the paper away in a fit of extreme irritation, mixed with thoughts about porn that probably would’ve got me thrown off the bus for indecency had anybody else known about them. If only he could have heard them, however, he might never have had the foolishness to write that column.
Because lots of women don’t like porn. In fact, lots of men don’t like porn. It’s just that, like so many things, porn has long been classified as a kind of “boy’s toy”, something that every man should enjoy, yet unnatainable for us weak little hysterical women.
And there are many different reasons why many different people don’t like many different types of porn.
Personally, I harbour mixed feelings.
I don’t mind the idea of porn per se, but the way that porn is produced and packaged means that I don’t really want to go near it, although I have seen some.
It makes me very uncomfortable wondering just how much coersion was used, how much force, how much blackmail. I feel sick at the thought that I might be witnessing a rape – and worse, enjoying it. Especially since venturing onto literotica, which is a site dedicated to erotic literature, funnily enough. Some of the fantasies I read about there – stories of professional rapists, an entire section entitled “nonconsent/reluctance” (I’m impressed by the euphamisms, but really, if you don’t consent, then that is rape) – have shown me that it’s a frighteningly common thought. And I know that rape fantasties don’t always equal wanting to rape or be raped, but even so, it’s not something I like to find so frequently.
And there’s another problem.
It’s all designed to be watched by a certain type of man.
“I went into one shop,” one of my friends told me recently, “and there was a small stand in the corner for ‘gay sex’ – where all of the video covers featured men – and a whole wall full of covers showing blonde hair and big breasts.”
It’s so common. I hate it.
I hate it that the existance of real lesbians is completely denied, because of course they’re just doing it for the man’s enjoyment. As though his cock is the most important thing in the world.
I hate it that every woman is assumed to be bisexual, and that the man who wrote this stupid, stupid column pouted that his girlfriend didn’t want to watch two women, although he point-blank refused to watch two men.
I hate it that all ‘mainstream’ porn is about Teh Menz.
And I hate it that the most sought-after scenes in ‘mainstream’ porn seem to be:
a) a blowjob, which is, by nature, intended for the sole pleasure of the man
b) anal sex – the man penatrating the woman – which is unlikely to give the woman any pleasure, since our G-spot is nowhere near (and ok, I wouldn’t normally pander to stereotypes, but guys, have you ever thought to ask for directions?)
c) the ‘money shot’ – watching the man come, usually over the woman.
I for one don’t find it at all sexy thinking of having a guy shoving something into an orifice of mine that’s only designed to have waste food come out, or indeed getting his come all over my nose.
There. Done. Now if only I could reduce that down to 400 words, and convince the editors of The London Paper that they wanted to print my vitriol, sarcasm and general rage, I would be a woman triumphant. At least until the readers voted on whether they liked me….
… I’ve been thinking about cheating.
Not the kind of cheating you’d describe as the result of being the (rather unscrupulous) Banker in a family game of Monopoly, with the chance to con your sister.
The kind of cheating you you’d describe as infidelity.
Anecdotal evidence has shown that, at least amongst my peer group, the women are much less likely to forgive than the men. In fact, we have already found three couples in which the guys have said that, in theory, they would take their girlfriends back, while said girlfriends have reacted with shock and horror, and also said that, were positions reversed, they would never take their boyfriends back.
I don’t know what this means. It’s just there.
Frankly, I find the guys’ stance on cheating strange, to say the least.
I’ve always thought that love, and relationships, are based on trust, especially in those relationships we have most choice over: our friends and partners. And perhaps I have a very blinkered view on what constitutes love.
I wouldn’t trust my grandmother further than the TV she sees men behind. I have some affection for her, as she is, after all, an elderly woman and my father’s mother, but I don’t think that I have any real love for her.
On the other hand, I have a deep love for both of my mother’s parents, which I feel stems from long, trusting and mutually respectful relationships.
I have moved away from many people, both friends and boyfriends, when I felt that I could no longer trust them. In some cases I could be civil, and in others I could not bear to be in their company, but in all of those failed relationships was the gut feeling that any further relationship with those people would be worthless and meaningless in the absence of the trust I once had.
And so, when people say that they would forgive their partners cheating on them, I am incredulous. Some things are unforgiveable, and many, many more are unforgettable.
I’ve heard the argument used that infidelity indicates a fundamental flaw in the relationship, and might be the saving of it, as it forces the couple to talk about what went wrong.
For me, that seems foolish. Because what kind of relationship is worth having, when you can’t talk about those kinds of flaws to begin with?
I am a talkative person, but to be honest, if somebody did that to me, I don’t know if I’d even have anything left to say to them, as I walked away and got them the hell out of my life.
To the person from Melissa, Texas, who found my blog – and actually followed the link – after googling “banging women till it hurts”…….
What the fuck?!
Also, what were you doing on page 83 of that search? Surely you could have found more, er, relevant sites on, say, page one?
I’d actually really like an answer to this…..
I’m currently administrating in the kitchens for a big office block in central London.
I wouldn’t mention this, were it not for the hysterical conversation I had today with some of the chefs….
Female Chef: Did you see that programme last night, the relationship help one, where this couple rated each other for sex? The woman gave her husband “2/10″….
[chuckles all round the table]
Female Chef: But at the end they asked them again and they both said “8″
Male Chef 1: Awww, man! Could she not have said “10″? Just for the ego boost, know what I’m sayin’?
[general agreement from other Male Chefs]
Male Chef 1: [earnestly] But you can’t put a Mercedes engine in a Ford, know what I mean?
Male Chef 2: If you’re crap, you’re crap. I last 20 seconds, know what I’m saying?
Male Chef 3: Well, you could keep going…. 20 seconds… and another 20 seconds…
Male Chef 1: Yeah, man, my girlfriend told me I was like superman, I was that quick….
Me: Given the underwear superman wears, I’m not sure that was a compliment
Male Chef 1: Yeah, well, it wasn’t till afterwards I realised what she meant by it.
Male Chef 2: … And this couple’s been together since they were like thirteen, fourteen…
Male Chef 1: Damn, I’d get bored, man!
Male Chef 2: Yeah… I mean variety is the spice of life, know what I’m saying? Banging the same pussy all the time, what’s the variety in that?
Me: [thoughtfully] You’ve got to pity the girl, too, if he’s got a really tiny cock….
[female chef almost chokes whilst laughing. Male chefs look slightly disturbed. My work here is done....!]
Because I found that somebody had come to my blog by asking,
“What makes women grumpy before their periods?”
In the words of politicians everywhere, I’m glad you asked me that!
So we should all know by now (I’ve said it enough, anyway!) that when women bleed, it’s because they’re shedding the excess lining of their womb, that would have become home to a fertilised egg and eventually turned into the placenta, assuming that there was a fertilised egg to begin with, which there presumably wasn’t.
Anyway. One of the reasons women get grumpy before their period is because, to shed this lining (and some blood), their wombs have mini (or not so mini, depending) contractions. You know, like the ones that make women scream when they’re busy giving birth. Those ones.
Although I am assured on all sides that period pains are nowhere near as bad as trying to force a child’s head through a gap that may not normally accept more than, say, three fingers, they are still bad.
They hurt. Quite a lot. The nearest I could imagine describing it for somebody who doesn’t get periods is really, really bad wind. When you feel tight, and bloated, and your insides feel like they’re twisting round and squeezing each other for no good reason.
And pain makes you grumpy. Shocking, really, isn’t it?
I mean, I know women are meant to have higher pain thresholds than men, due to the fact they’re “meant” to have sproglets (which means that the phrase “take it like a man” is a bit foolish, really, but I’ll pass that by) but seriously, that doesn’t mean we don’t feel anything.
Other reasons women get grumpy before their periods:
- They know that their period is due, and are just a bit fucked off that once again they’ll have to deal with all the lugging around of “sanitary” stuff that feels like you’re wearing a nappy, or means that you’re forced into poking fingers (and other things) into yourself in public toilets – nice!
- The hormones that usually swirl around their bodies are doing so in different amounts, which is a little confusing for us, and can make us homicidal.
- They know that their period may mean curtailing their sex lives, or additional washing (potential staining) of sheets, which is irritating.
- It makes them so hungry that nothing they eat, no matter how much they eat, will stop that feeling. And being hungry for a minimum of five days straight, knowing that I can’t do anything about it, really, really pisses me off.
- Their cycle is a bit screwed up, and now they’ve got their period, again. And they weren’t meant to.
This is by no means an exhaustive list, but hey, I’m sure people will add to it if they really feel the need!
A strange subject for a post, you might think. It gets stranger. Enjoy!
The Tudors is the name of a new UK TV series, all about, well, the Tudors. Or, at least, Henry VIII, he of the 6 wives. Now, I happen to love that period of history, partly because it’s reasonably well documented, partly because I studied it in some depth, and partly because it’s full of sex and death.
This is something that (I hope) made Philippa Gregory lots of money; she found the great scandals and controversies of the time, and made them into novel form, choosing the explanation that involved the most sex and death. And so, for instance, the premise of The Virgin’s Lover is that Elizabeth I, our famous virgin queen, married to England (and not to be confused with Elizabeth II, the elderly woman who is at present our reigning monarch and is clearly not a virgin), was in fact having a rather heated affair with her advisor, Robert Dudley. It’s an entertaining thought.
Anyway, the BBC evidently latched on to this idea even more enthusiastically than I did, because what I saw of the first episode was, quite simply, sex and death.
There was no real form of introduction, no easing in of characters, but in the half an hour I watched, there was a sudden, violent and bloody death and two gratuitous sex scenes, each involving a large amount of breast.
Needless to say, they somehow managed penatrative sex whilst simultaneously retaining their underwear. Funnily enough I find this a lot stranger now than I used to as a child.
It was a strange position to be in – I was deeply irritated by the pointlessness of that much sex being aired, but at the same time, I was well aware that had I been even two years younger, I would have been watching avidly, trying to work out how the hell it worked, and where their legs were going.
Which is almost as bad as guys using porn “to see how it’s done”, because the whole thing was ridiculously unrealistic. Apart from the breasts, which were almost certainly real!
I was disappointed, to be honest. I felt that it could have been a lot better, and it annoyed me that it wasn’t.
Especially since that was my first attempt at watching TV on my own for years.
I mean that, actually. I can’t remember the last time I sat down to watch a program purely for myself.
So I think I’m going to conclude, once again, that all in all, I’d rather read a good book.
And Philippa Gregory is high on my list of authors.
(A surprise contender for the top list is Stef Penney, who wrote The Tenderness of Wolves. It seemed to be a “book group” book and I was all set to ignore it, but Mum had a copy, I got bored, and actually, it’s a really good read.)
And I’m also going to conclude that even when TV sounds like it might be half-decent, it’s probably shite.