Once again, MSN has done itself proud:
“Is size 14 the perfect body shape for women?”*
I have only one thing to say to this.
“Join me again next week on this episode of ‘let’s make no fucking sense’, when I’ll be waxing an owl…”
*link here, but it’ll eat your sanity points.
Don’t read this opinion piece if you like doctors who “specialise in obesity care” to, well, care.
Especially don’t read it if you take exception to the idea that some people are more equal than others. (Spoiler: guess who Dr. David Haslam thinks is more deserving of weight loss surgery: an old woman who’s immobile, or a middle-aged man with erectile dysfunction?)
Let’s hope the dear doctor is too busy pontificating to see any patients, as clearly, they’ll fare better without his “help”.
This article I present with almost no comment, because… WTF?! Pertinent quotes below:
“The Lancet said mothers-to-be should not be able to opt for [home births] if they put their babies at risk – under UK law women can override medical advice…
The editorial was written following the publication of a study in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology….
The relevance of the US study to the UK was questioned by medical bodies as midwives in the NHS are said to have better training in resuscitating babies in home birth situations.
The Lancet said: “Women have the right to chose how and where to give birth, but they do not have the right to put their baby at risk.””
Except… we do, actually. It’s not illegal to drink, smoke or take drugs during pregnancy. Not that I’d be surprised if it became illegal in the near future. Anyway, I leave you with the last paragraph of the article, a quote from Mary Newburn from the National Childbirth Trust:
“Pregnant women have the same rights as other adults.”
You wouldn’t think so, sometimes, would you?
The problem with having a hotmail account is, simply put, MSN. Usually it makes me angry; today I just rolled my eyes so hard I fear I may have lost an eyeball.
Description: Picture shows part of a screen shot of MSN’s uk website from Tuesday 27th July 2010. A picture of a racially ambiguous woman with brown eyes and straight brown hair fills most of the screen. She is shown from the shoulders up, wearing a white strappy top (I assume) and a white headband, using a hair straightener. To the right is a headline: “Look slimmer instantly” with the tagline “2o ways to look like you’ve lost weight – without diet or exercise“. Underneath are two links, in this order:
- Why do women hate their bodies?
- How to avoid gaining weight on holiday
Oh, MSN. You’re practically a bingo card all by yourself.
(Incidentally, I clicked on the link, so that you didn’t have to go looking for it, and it turns out that the dude who wrote the opinion piece – there go my eyes again! – has begun to see where the problem might lie, which kind of makes it worse:
“Marketers tell men to be fit and strong. They tell women to be beautiful. And when the essence of beauty is an unhealthily skinny supermodel whose wrinkles have been airbrushed away, that’s an impossible ask.
So my advice – and I know it’s easy for me to say – is to ignore them.“
Why, thank you, Captain Obvious. Now, moving on: why do smokers hate their lungs? 870 words later, I have concluded that smokers should just pack in the smoking! Because it’s just that simple!)
I was making pie this evening. This is relevant to my story only because it’s a lot of effort, and then you shove it in the oven and ignore it for half an hour.
For the record – and this is not relevant, but oh well! – I make bloody good pie.
Anyway, the point is, I was tired and had a cup of tea and half an hour in the kitchen to kill.
So I thought I’d indulge in a little light masochism, and flick through this month’s Cosmopolitan.
Yeah, and then I started playing Bingo again. It’s been a common occurrence this week, and with that in mind, I just lost The Game. Damn.
So, my second thought was this:
Perhaps I should conduct a statistical analysis of the ways in which reading Cosmopolitan requires playing Anti-Feminist / Fat-Hatred / Homophobic Bingo.
Or, put more sensibly, some kind of analysis of the messages contained within Cosmopolitan.
Clearly I am being foolish. Because it then occurred to me that one edition is a fucking terrible sample to take. (My statistics lecturer would be so proud.)
But… this means that I will have to both find and read back issues of Cosmopolitan.
Now, I’m all for pointless studies that prove [nothing] / [nothing we don’t already know] (delete as appropriate!) because they mean that I have something to gnash my teeth about.
But, you know, I don’t think that even I have the strenth of character to drag myself through the Bingo-playing ordeal of back issues of Cosmopolitan to produce a sensible study on it.
I would love to just be a terrible statistician and take a sample of one, but the problem is that this will actually give me nothing to analyse. I mean, I doubt it, but technically this month’s issue could be an aberration from a feminist-friendly norm. I can but hope.
There might be trends that I miss through not documenting statistics for older issues.
Or it might completely justify all of my biases and knee-jerk assumptions. Who knows?
Still, at least I don’t claim to be objective.
(As I write this, I can’t help but remember the time when I used to buy Cosmopolitan because I actually enjoyed reading it. I have to wonder what the hell was wrong with me, because I got so angry with the magazine this evening that I had to put it away and go to “check” the potatoes I was cooking [for “check” read “stab with a big knife”].)
The coffee table in my flat looks a little strange.
There is a houseplant (Evil Flatmate’s).
There is a tea-stained mug (mine).
There is an issue of Cosmopolitan (EF’s).
There is a copy of The Vagina Monologues (mine).
I’m not sure what this shows, but it must show something.
Also, I have decided that I really hate women’s magazines. I shall add them to my list of drivel-purveyors, if I haven’t already.
I used to merely get annoyed with them, but now I can’t actually touch the damned things. Which is probably because there was a Big! Scary! True! Story! about how the only man that you ever have to worry about is the rich one, you know, that you’d normally think was really Hot! because he’s rich (duh! what was I thinking?). Secretly, Rich Hot Man is a Date-Rapist in disguise.
Now, I’m not saying that’s not true, but how about you make use of the fucking statistics, Cosmo? How about you don’t scare women with the less-likely option, when all of your articles about how to please “your man” in bed – even when you’re not in the mood yourself – are just another symptom of the fucked-up rape culture we live in? How about you tell women that yes, their husbands can rape them, their boyfriends or ex-husbands or ex-boyfriends can, and that actually, they’re far, far more likely to know their attacker?
Also, how about you remember that not every woman fancies men?
Fuck you, Cosmopolitan. You do not live up to your name.
Is it bad to be really intrigued by the way your skin heals?
I ripped the skin off the palm of my hand when I was playing Stuck In The Mud on Sunday. I was giggling like a fool at the time, so I didn’t actually notice that my hand was hurt until we had to stretch and do press ups and things.
And then I fell over because if you put weight through a part of your hand that’s all raw, it hurts. Shocking, I know!
Anyway, but I’ve spent most of today watching it for signs of infection and/ or healing. I’m not entirely sure that this is a good thing to be doing.
But it beats getting into arguments with your flatmate because she can’t see how being a walking, talking Daily Mail might be offensive.
Since I’ve moved up to Sheffield, I’ve been doing the meet-and-greet thing a hell of a lot. So I’ve started to get questions that either I’ve never had to deal with before, or that I just haven’t heard in years.
And what I’ve noticed is that they all follow the same pattern – “why don’t you care….. ?”
So, there’s been:
…. that your legs are hairy, and don’t you know that’s disgusting?
…. about God?
…. about makeup?
…. that you’re not going out all the time?
….that not every parent is letting their daughter have the HPV vaccine?
Doesn’t it say a lot, though, that the one that generated the most acrimony was the first one?
Seriously, the looks of horror were almost frightening. But, you know what? I don’t care because it doesn’t matter!
– It doesn’t matter that my legs are hairy, precisely because I don’t mind. I don’t feel any less for having hair where it’s perfectly normal to have hair. Actually, I’ve got quite competitive, and was disappointed to realise that my leg hair is never going to be as long as J’s.
One of my answers to the question was “I decided that I wouldn’t shave my legs for as long as J didn’t shave his. He can’t be bothered, so I haven’t.”
Predictably enough, this generated a huge chasm of double-think, that I was simply unable to bridge. “But… but… he’s a man – it doesn’t matter for him!”. Exactly. It doesn’t matter for him. His leg hair doesn’t repulse anybody. Why should mine?
– Let’s just not get started on God. I don’t care, because the presence or absence of God doesn’t get me up in the mornings. I’ve got a life to live.
– The makeup’s a difficult one. In a way, I suppose it comes back to the leg hair double-think. It doesn’t matter for him; why should it matter for me?
More practically, I don’t care about makeup because I’d rather spend the money on food, or soap, or books. I don’t care about makeup because I’d rather have an extra cup of tea in the morning than try to cover my face in chemicals. And I don’t care about makeup because I was lucky enough to never really start using it. If I had started, maybe I’d’ve carried on. But it seems a bit silly to start now, after the spotty-teenager phase.
-The HPV vaccine thing?
(Be warned, I’m going to get cross. And I’m going to talk. A lot.)
Ok, first off, it doesn’t prevent all cervical cancer. I’ll say it again.
The HPV vaccine does not prevent all cervical cancer.
Moreover, not all people who have HPV have it develop into cancer.
There is a risk that HPV will lead to cervical cancer. A risk is not a certainty.
Any vaccine carries some health risks with it. Therefore, the decision to have a vaccine requires a weighing-up of those risks. It may be that there are very few risks, or that they will only be minor risks. But jamming a needle into your flesh and injecting yourself with a vaccination will always carry some risk, even if it’s just that you might get a localised infection. Or a numb arm.
My Statistics lecturer would love me for this – I’ve just been to the Office of National Statistics website to see what I could drum up.
Let me say now that I’m not any kind of decent statistician, yet. I couldn’t conduct a proper research survey alone, and I didn’t understand all of the terms used in the statistics I found. But I have had some training, which is better than none.
And what I’ve found actually isn’t very hard to understand.
The most recent statistics for mortality rates of cancer in the UK are from the period 2002 – 2004, with averages taken over these three years.
For women, cervical cancer is 13th on the list of common cancers. This actually isn’t very common.
A quick look at lung cancer (the most common cancer for both men and women) shows that:
In the time period 2002 – 2004, an average of 15,355 women were diagnosed with lung cancer each year, and 13,505 died.
Compare this with cervical cancer:
In the time period 2002 – 2004, an average of 2,784 women were diagnosed with cervical cancer, and 1,106 died.
Which means that I, as a woman, am over ten times more likely to die from lung cancer than I am to die from cervical cancer.
Or, put another way, in a population of 1,000,000, 28 women will die from cervical cancer each year.
Frankly, I like those odds. They are not large. They’re not zero, and clearly some women do die from cervical cancer, but, you know, if I don’t want to die from cancer, I’d be better off (according to the statistics at least) by making sure that I don’t smoke and check my breasts regularly. Oh, and by not being genetically predisposed to developing cancer. That would help.
So if some parents don’t want their daughters to have this vaccine, I’m actually not too worried.
At least, I’m not worried about this as a stand-alone statement.
I am worried if the reasoning behind it is “… because then my daughter will be a promiscuous slut and God will hate her”. This is quite clearly nonsense, and I’m not one for having choices taken away from women in general. Especially not because of the great Bearded One in the sky.
But if the reasoning behind it is, “I’ve explained to my daughter what the risks are, and asked her whether she wants the vaccine, and she’s said no” then no, I don’t mind.
I especially don’t mind if they also point out that if she wants to change her mind about it, it would be best to do so before she becomes sexually active.
I wish people actually looked at statistics once in a while. They might be shocked at what cheap tricks the media pulls when they use statistics as soundbites.
Oh – and have links:
Statistics all taken from here.
If you really want to get specific, try this.
Useful information on the HPV vaccine is here.
A discussion of when parents are God-bothering to the extent of not giving their daughters any kind of choice, here.
Ok, so I wasn’t going to blog, because I notice I’m posting a fair bit these days, trying to hide from my Statistics coursework.
But then I realised that somebody (I’m going to assume a man, and I’m going to call him… Ted. Hi Ted!) had got to my blog by typing “what are girls really thinking” into Google.
So, Ted, first things first.
When you say “girls”, do you actually mean “pre-pubescent”? Because if so, you’re in the wrong place. I am not a “girl”. Although I was, once. And I’m not going to talk about what girls are really thinking, because if you’re a man, you’ll either be very bored by that, or very creepy. If you’re creepy, please go away now. I don’t like creepy men.
And, if you didn’t mean “pre-pubescent”, can you tell me why the fuck you just referred to all women as “girls”? Honestly, it’s one of those things that just keeps on annoying me.
I am a woman. Have been for a while, whichever definition you choose to use. So this is about what women are thinking.
Now, I really would like to insist that you ignore this article. Yeah, yeah, I know what it says. I know how it panders to all those stereotypes that you just can’t help loving…. but, poor, naive Ted – it’s a lie. It’s all a lie. Cake is a lie too, probably.
I could give you links to various blogs by various women, because that shows you what women are thinking. Of course, I am biased and selective, so I would only link you to women that I, personally, find interesting or amusing.
Actually, you know what you could do? You could go and watch the Target Women series. It’s awesome. I love it. And it shows you, fairly easily, what women are asked to think, and what (some) women do think.
But I wasn’t meant to be linking you to things, really. Because you could go to my blogroll and check out what women are thinking from that, and it would be really easy and simple.
Anyway. It’s not difficult, Ted. And if I asked you what men were thinking…
Well, actually, since you had to google the phrase “what girls are really thinking”, you’d probably tell me that men were thinking of Teh Sexxx, you know, like they have no other function.
But I’ve actually thought about this (OMG! Thoughts!! From A Woman!!!) and so I can tell you that what women think about, is pretty much what men think about.
And that would be… Everything.
Yes, Ted, that’s right. Between us, we “girls” think about everything.
Some of us even think about God sometimes.
Seriously, if you ever need to type this kind of thing into a search engine again, I suggest that you start to wonder why men and women are held to be so different. And when you start to wonder, I suggest that you then go to this blog, where you may start to understand.
And don’t assume I’m thinking about how to make you like me.
My sister is 18 – only 19 months younger than me. And, whilst I grew up tomboyish and vain, she grew up feminine and vain. So we make quite a good combination, all things considered, and never have to compete for being ‘the best’, because we’re so very different there’s nothing to compete for – I’ll be best at wearing skanky jeans, she’ll be best at wearing frilly skirts. It’s fine.
It also means that whilst I get quite animated about feminism, and LGBTQ rights, and fat acceptance, and so on and so forth, she…. doesn’t.
So when, a few days ago, she told me about this, it made me hurt inside. Because although I’ve read a fair amount about it, she hasn’t – and for her it’s personal.
My sister’s friend, V, is anorexic. Severely, can’t-leave-the-house-she’s-so-weak anorexic.
She had all her lessons at school rearranged for the morning so that she could get through her A-levels and not collapse and die. So far, she lives.
But she wasn’t the “fat” girl in their friendship group. Not by a long shot. That was my sister. Not that my sister was fat, of course, but when everybody around you is 4’6″ and wearing child clothes and you’re 5’3″ and wearing adult clothes, then you feel fat. And she did. But she didn’t diet, other than the odd half-hearted cutting-out-chocolate-for-a-month type diets, and eventually the tiny thin girls that she was friends with got taller and filled out a bit.
It’s just that when V filled out a bit, she took it badly.
And my sister got very upset.
It could so easily have been her, she told me. She read the same magazines, she saw the same adverts, she watched the same programmes – and everything told her that she needed to diet. It’s just that she never did. It wasn’t, she said, that she was any stronger willed, or any more clever – she just got lucky. It just didn’t affect her in the same way.
But it could have done.
The girl lying listlessly in her bed, refusing to eat, terrified of being “fat” whilst wasting away before her friends’ eyes – that could have been my sister. It could have been me.
And, she said, it made a real difference to the way she felt about food.
She and V have a male friend who is very close to them both. They’ve both known him for years. And he, seeing V wasting away, is now terrified that every female friend he has will do the same. Which means that my sister is faced with a dilemma whenever she goes out with him – because he wants to see her eating “normally”.
“I can’t eat salads in front of him now,” she told me, sadly, “he thinks it means I’m dieting, just like how V started out. He always wants me to eat burgers and stuff, and I don’t always want to. And I know he’s only scared but I’m scared for her too, and it’s hard enough as it is to not get funny about food without him watching what I’m eating all the time.”
My sister knows. She didn’t have to read Shapely Prose to learn about fat acceptance – she worked it out on her own, growing up. She didn’t have to read a few hundred articles about the pervasive messages of self-hatred that the patriarchy throws at us – she can see them in every magazine she picks up.
My sister is 18. And she’s a brilliant feminine feminist.