This Should Be Obvious

To the charming German speaker who somehow turned up at my blog after searching for “sexxx girl”:

You are very much in the wrong place. You silly, silly person.

Although, it is not really your fault that the search engine you used to find wank fodder was crap and picked out my blog because I used the word “girl” recently.

I swear, I cannot make this shit up. And I’m imaginative.

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This Second Thought Was Dim

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”].)


Coffee Table

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.


Quote Of The Day

From Ben Goldacre, author of the Guardian column “Bad Science”:

“”nutritional therapist” is a term we can all legally use to describe ourselves, alongside “dilettante”,”handsome” and “clown””

H/T to my mother for suggesting that I might like his writing, since he thinks that homeopathy is bollocks.


Why Don’t You Care…?

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.


On A Different Note

Although Fannie has got this story covered (she also promises a follow-up post), I couldn’t help noticing this quote:

The plaintiffs contended that this state’s statutes contravene
the state constitutional prohibition against sex discrimination
because those statutes preclude a woman from
doing what a man may do, namely, marry a woman,
and preclude a man from doing what a woman may do,
namely, marry a man.

Now, that is quite a cool and groovy argument, I feel.


Bloody Freshers

I have the lurgy. Possibly even Freshers’ Flu. But probably just a bad cold.

I’m making sure I eat, drink, and dose up on lemsip, and feel a little better after eating a stir-fry laced liberally with chilli sauce.

In the meantime, this is what I posted after the Creepy Guy thing kicked off.

I have kept a diary, sporadically, since the age of eleven.
While I am on the subject of harrassment – which I am, I seem to be thinking about it a lot these days – I think just seeing some of these comments of mine, accumulated over that period of time, is a little on the disturbing side…

at age 13 -…. “it was pouring with rain and I had to walk home and I was coming up M__ RD with someone behind me. Normally there’s no one there, you see, so I looked round quickly and it was a boy just a bit taller than me… He crossed the road… but then I noticed that he was watching me… and at the top of the road he crossed over again to ask what year I was in…”

at age 16 -… “And after Tom, a host of annoying guys. Bibi (20 … ‘happened to mention’ he gets free cinema tickets. How interesting – but I’m not going to go out with you for them, idiot!). John – no, Jhon, the guy that sat down next to me on the train and told me I was beautiful. He also mumbled. And was 22. The guy at the bus stop by the cemetry who wanted to talk to me, but I didn’t stop walking. The one that whistled at me in Lewisham and wanted to buy me a drink…. he told me he was ‘in his twenties’… come on, why would you think I’d waste my time on you? And Henry, the nigerian guy – 19 – who wanted me to ring him. Maybe not….. Plus assorted idiots who leer from vans – builders conforming to type but also a lot of other people who won’t ever get anyone if they carry on like that.”

at age 17 -… ” TWO people today! The first one conformed to type by being a well-built black guy with a round face that I couldn’t understand, and whose name – being unpronouncable – I promptly forgot. The first time I saw him, he was waiting at the bus stop just after the Post office and the dodgy roundabout with a dangerous turning, when he tried – and failed! – to get my number or anything else out of me, except my name, and the second time was on bus going the other way, when he tried – and failed yet again! – to even talk to me properly.
Anyway, while this was going on, I couldn’t help being aware that a guy opposite was watching the whole thing, and when I got off the bus, one stop after sending Mr. Unpronounceable on his way, he followed me.”

” there’s this really, really annoying, ugly little git of a boy. I’m not sure how old he is, but he’s definitely younger than me, so maybe 14 or 15. When he’s with his friends, he always has to make some insult or something, which isn’t the least scary, but very annoying. But when he’s on his own, he never says anything – typical! Today he waited till he was nearly out of earshot before saying something, and I got that it wasn’t particularly nice, even though I couldn’t really hear. So I stopped, and turned around, really deliberately, and looked back at him, at which point he made a face at me. So I made a face back, as you do (!), and stuck a finger up at him. Very, very obviously. I was really pissed off. So having made my point – literally! – I carried on walking. I think he said something else, but I didn’t turn round again, just walked away, in a real temper.”

” Oh, and the man kissed my hand, for some reason, and complemented L on having such a gorgeous girlfriend!” [I have never, for the record, been L’s girlfriend]

” So I talked to Mickey and his random mates for a while, and sat with them on his invitation, punched one of them for attempting to grope me,…”

” I was vaguely aware of a guy who’d watched me walk past, and when the bus pulled up minutes later and I said “shit” under my breath because my travelcard had run out, I wasn’t surprised that he took that as an invitation to talk to me.”

” [the pub] was disturbingly full of very tall, very drunk Irishmen, who by virtue of being very drunk Irishmen decided that complimenting me – or at the very least, eyeing me up – was the sensible thing to do”

” Anyway, it’s just something I’m deeply uncomfortable with – and that’s without all of the scary, bordering-on-the-lecherous men who call me ‘sir’ and talk about how much I’ve grown since we last met (well, of course I’ve bloody grown!)”

And do you know something?
Please, restrain yourself from answering, as I generally do, yes, many things – but not what you’re going to tell me…
Those are only the times that I have considered”worth” mentioning. I’d even forgotten about a few of these ones. Just think how many I’ll have forgotten in general, by now. My memory’s crap at the best of times, and I just don’t bother thinking about this kind of thing as a general rule. Maybe I should.

I think that the next time I post it will be on a different subject. But I’m not sure.