My computer thinks that I am spyware. If I try to access blogger, I get this message:
… but your query looks similar to automated requests from a computer virus or spyware application. To protect our users, we can’t process your request right now.”
So, although – bizarrely – it will let me post, I can’t read what I’ve written, and nor can I see anybody else’s sites if they use Blogger.
Anyway, if I’m quiet for a bit, that’s why.
I want to blog about so many things right now that I can’t settle to blog about any of them. Which is annoying.
I want to talk about the way that there’s an evil child terrorising my brother, and the way that I simultaneously blame the parents and the patriarchy.
I want to talk about the utter relief that I don’t have to deal with the Evil Porter that J rather uncharitably christened Nobby Nobbs. J is of the opinion that Evil Porter, like Nobby, should be “disqualified from the human race” – more because Evil Porter annoyed me than because he “shoved”, though, it has to be said.
I want to talk about the way I am continuously getting away with calmly telling people that actually, I’m a clever person, and how happy that makes me. Especially since it happens to be true.
I want to talk about sexuality again. I know that I once said that surely there must be other things to talk about, but hey, if there’s only seven types of story to be told, I think I can be forgiven for returning to sexuality as a topic to rant about.
I want to talk about the forthcoming London Mayoral Elections, and the way I get to vote for the first time. And I want to mention the discussion over dinner, which culminated in my sister saying in frustration, “women didn’t chain themselves to railings to give me the vote. They did it to give me the choice!“.
And I want to talk about the way I’m going to university, and what that might mean for me.
Right now, though, I’m going to read.
…. The Apprentice.
Bloody awful, curiously addictive TV series in which a group of eight men and eight women compete for a 6-figure salary working for Sir Alan Sugar, entrepeneur extraordinaire.
Split, for competition’s sake, into two teams.
The ‘Girl’s Team’, and
The ‘Boy’s Team’.
It’s a small thing, I know, but really? Does it have to be this way?
These people are all of ‘management’ stock, meaning that realistically, they’re power-hungry egomaniacs without a clue of what happens in the real world. However.
This doesn’t mean that they should be infantalised, for goodness’ sake.
Can’t we call them ‘men’ and ‘women’?
….. Our “fruit of the week” report that we receive from our fruit and veg suppliers at work was yesterday extolling the virtues of a particular type of orange.
Apparently, men need it because there is a vitamin in it which, and I quote, “helps to flex muscles”.
Oh, and pregnant women need it because it’s good for your folic acid intake. Or something.
So I got the chef to edit that bit before we used it. Because, you know, women have muscles too. At least, I hope like hell we do, otherwise how do those babies get out??
….. I have shocked Evil Porter to the core. But he started it; he came to sit with me at breakfast and asked me if I was Christian…..!
So, as anybody who’s seen Avenue Q will know, everyone’s a little bit racist (no, please don’t shout at me for this one. Just go to YouTube and have a listen. It actually has a point. In a strange, muppet-show kind of a way).
But apparently, everyone’s a little bit fascist, too.
Take the Shannon Matthews case. The key facts?
A young white girl goes missing
[English journalists everywhere high-five for getting a "good" story]
from somewhere up North
[English journalists tone down their response a bit, as obviously, living up North, you're common and speak with a funny accent].
Her mother makes numerous TV appeals for the safe return of her daughter
[English TV programmers high-five for stealing the story from their old -fashioned colleagues who work with the printed word, a day behind the scoop]
but is hindered by the fact that she has a total of seven children fathered by five different men [English journalists in every media pause to decide which way to spin this story]
and that her newest husband is only 22, 10 years her junior
[English media provokes that monster, Public Opinion, which starts to decide that they're common as muck, ought to be sterilised, look a bit inbred anyway - but that's hardly surprising as they come from up North - and what on earth are they doing together considering the weirdness and the age difference?]
and then the fact that Shannon is found, safe and unharmed as far as anybody can see, hidden under a bed in the house belonging to her young stepfather’s uncle.
[English media bands together with Public Opinion to ask just what the fuck is going on in this bloody strange case anyway?]
The last I heard, Shannon’s mother was arrested for attempting to pervert the course of justice, having told a police liason officer that she knew where the girl was all along. Shannon herself is reported to have said that she’d rather stay with her foster parents.
And absolutely everybody that I’ve spoken to has been frighteningly militant about the case.
What can I say? Bleeding-heart liberal that I am, I don’t understand how people can so easily slip into the train of thought that leads to cruelty and intolerance.
There are some people who make decisions in life that I could never envisage making myself, that I would never want to make myself.
But surely, there are worse crimes in life than to have seven children and be a bit odd? Even to have seven children and be more than a bit odd.
It was only a generation or two ago that having seven children wouldn’t have been uncommon (all hail the Catholic Church!). The “five different men” thing – well, that’s not so common, for any age. On the other hand, at least two of the children must have shared a father, so it’s not all so scary, really. And to be honest, who’s to say now, when there are so many families that aren’t the nuclear version, what is right?
I could, in my smug, Southern, middle-class superiority say that she’s not a good mother, that she’s mad, or strange, or stupid, or promiscuous or grasping for money, or that she had so many children because of the benefits.
But that wouldn’t make me right. And it certainly doesn’t mean that I – or anyone else – can suggest that she be sterilised because of it.
Besides, what with our declining birth rate, and these same lovely, little-bit-fascist people slating any immigrant that comes their way, we need somebody to be popping out the kids.
Because otherwise, when they’re old, and draining the economy, I might turn out to be a little bit fascist too, and have them all put down.
In the time that I’ve been out of blogland, my birthday happened. And it was a very nice birthday; I am now 20, and will not get funny looks for procreating.
Not that I intend to procreate just yet.
The nice thing was that my birthday entailed lots and lots of books. Lots.
So instead of writing, I’ve been reading:
1 – The Vagina Monologues – Eve Ensler.
Read this. Everybody should read this. I’m lending it to J because it contains some of those things that we need to know. Such as the fact that the clitoris has around twice as many nerve fibres as a penis – more than anywhere else in the body, male or female. Not only is that a useful thing to know, it’s also very nice!
2 – Bachelor Girl – Betty Israel.
I picked this up on my birthday holiday in a little sleepy town with a remarkably big bookshop. Wall to wall bookshelves on four levels, and half a shelf somewhere in the middle labeled Feminism. I was happy. And the book is one of those books that needs to be read quietly. It’s focussed on American women, but that doesn’t make it any less interesting or relevant. Just different.
3 – Never Hit a Jellyfish with a Spade – Guy Browning.
Because you’ve got to have some fun in life and laughing out loud on a train, scaring the man sitting opposite you always counts.
I have a few others still to go, which is nice. But I keep lending them to people – just as well really as my bookcase is small and I suspect that to accommodate my growing collection, if they were all there, I’d need to buy another one.
Also, I don’t like Reading.
It is Guildford, only squashed a bit flatter. And it’s Guildford – and therefore London – prices.
I’m not becoming a student for that.
So I rather suspect that I will be heading North in October.
Hopefully more regular posts now that life has settled down a bit, but with my sister stealing my laptop to ‘revise’ for her A-levels, using that ever popular medium of Facebook, who knows?
Once again, that pinnacle of education and information, Sky News, has its priorities just right.
To accompany my two thickly buttered bagels for breakfast, the news that even though a recent study of twins has shown that being overweight is over 3/4 to do with your genes (if anyone else wants to shout, as I did, “No! You think?!” – go to Shapely Prose, where they do it brilliantly well!) – that is no excuse for getting fat.
Yes, you might be very genetically predisposed towards being fat – as you might be at higher risk of cancer, or diabetes, or indeed having twin babies – but that doesn’t mean you can just relax! You must stay thin, and cancer free, and diabetes free, and have no babies, just in case they turn out to be twins.
Actually, no – have the twin babies, and then we can race them, and see if a “winning streak” is down to your genes.
And, as a second thought, something I have been pondering.
Kirsten has lent me The Beauty Myth (by Naomi Wolf).
I can’t bring myself to read it in more than short bursts, because it feels very close to home and suppressing the rage makes my head hurt.
Anyway, leaving that aside, she talks a lot about clothes, and work clothes, in relation mainly to women. As you might expect.
One of the points she made runs something along the lines that women are at a disadvantage because, whereas men have a clearly defined work uniform (suits, or at least suit trousers, together with a collared shirt, and a tie as optional), women do not, and where the default setting for professional is male, and therefore uniform, to not have a uniform singles you out as less professional.
At least, I think that’s what she meant. I am paraphrasing, and don’t have the book in front of me.
So, I had a thought. A second thought, even.
Should company dress codes give trousers as the only option?
Technically, I suppose, one could argue that it is sexist to allow women to wear more casual clothes to work than men. Not that men would say that too loudly, in case it looked like they were advocating men wearing skirts, which is something only for women. Which would be bad and wrong, because remember, if you are a woman, you are less than a man.
But I have heard men complaining about it, quietly.
As it happens, I have always worn black trousers to work. In two of my three jobs, I have been required to wear trousers. In the other, at the shop, a skirt would have restricted my movement, impeded me in my work, and also, completely separately, annoyed the hell out of me.
So. Women being required to wear trousers. Is this right? Is it even legal? And what about the women who like having their legs shackled together, and who feel capable of getting through the day without laddering a pair of tights? I think we should be told!
It’s not something that features heavily on this site, or rather, my real world, my personal world, doesn’t.
For a start, not many people want to know about it.
And also, I don’t really want to tell about it.
But hey, things are happening, and although they’re not really A Second Thought related, giving a quick overview does at least explain why I’m not having so many second thoughts right now. As it were. So, on my agenda at the moment:
- My appraisal at work. I have to fill in a form, then we talk about it. Apparently it is the manager’s responsibility to ensure that a nice, pretty, typed-up account of the meeting makes its way to me. But as I am the administrator, I’ll most likely be typing it myself.
- My UCAS application. This – hopefully – takes me to university. I want to be one of those elusive beasts, a woman who can both communicate and count. A person who can communicate and count is like finding a dog that can speak – very rare. A woman who will admit to being able to count is like finding a dog that can speak Norwegian – even rarer. (To bastardise yet another wonderful Blackadder quote!)
- My forthcoming interview in a Good Northern Uni. In a little over a month’s time, I have to be in the position I was when I was actually studying for my A-levels. In other words, I have maths revision to do.
- My ever-increasing dress size. (And why, why is it still a ‘dress’ size? I don’t wear dresses. Grrr.) I wholeheartedly advocate Health At Every Size. But when a) your trousers split, b) you begin to wonder if you could be pregnant and c) you work out you’re not actually moving very much, I’d say that’s a good time to join a gym and start swimming. (I’m not pregnant, by the way. I checked.)
- Three new books, because I found a book voucher. One about Anne Boleyn, because I love my historical novels, and especially about that period, another about a woman’s experience of life in post-invasion Afghanistan, because it was all about Teh Wimmynz and we’ve gotta love that, and one called The Abstinence Teacher, about the Christian Right in America. Strangely enough, that little collection just about sums me up. But I should think more about that another time.
If I do happen to have any second thoughts, rest assured I will blog, because I really don’t want to become one of the many sad blogs now on “hiatus” – for the last two years! In the meantime, though, mundane things like my washing machine are beckoning to me, in a rather disturbing join us… kind of a way!
Because men talk about sex like normal people. Yay!
However, isn’t there something a little odd about this quote:
“you can be a masculine man and still respect women. You can still take the lead, love sex and be able to kick the shit out of a mugger and treat your woman as an equal.“[emphasis mine]
Whilst admiring the sentiment behind it, which is good, I find myself a little irritated by the last bit.
Because, surely, saying “your woman” implies ownership. Which does not sound much like equality to me.
Also, it reminds me of Cosmopolitan, in which every peice of advice was aimed at a you, as a straight woman, for the benefit of “your man”.
But generally, we love Todger Talk. Go and read them, for they are funny.
… Which I’d totally forgotten about, then remembered but wasn’t going to do because I’ve already posted twice this evening, but then I found this:
I’m a FEMALE male chavinist – and, if I’m not mistaken, a complete fucking psycho.
Care of the Daily Mail, of course – who else would print this bollocks?
I actually shouted, “you’re having a fucking laugh”. At my laptop.
On Blog For Choice Day, I read the following: “I wanted the key decisions about my unborn children to be in male hands.”
WHAT?!!! Seriously – WHAT?!!!!
Fucking hell – I just – I have no words for this woman.
No, actually, I do have words. Not for her, though. Fucking moron.
I want key decisions about MY unborn children to be in MY hands.
I will be blogging for choice and fighting for choice and talking for choice all the way, because what we’re talking about are the rights of women to control what happens to the parasitic bundle of cells that happens to have taken root in her uterus.
Not, “the rights of the unborn child”.
“Unborn child” my arse.
You can’t BE “unborn”. You can be “born”. You can be “alive”. You can be “dead”. That’s about it.
And the thing inside you ISN’T a child. For fucks’ sake. So, what, it lurks inside you as a child, but once it comes out, it has to revert to being a baby for a couple of years? ‘Cause THAT makes sense.
(Like you can’t be a “born-again virgin”. You’ve already HAD sex, you fool. You can’t un-have-sex, either.)
I want to drown things.
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!!!!!