Monday, 30 April 2012


If you have the stomach for it, I've just read a really interesting article about the disappearance of female bodily hair and what it means. It brings together a lot of strong arguments, many of which I hadn't thought of before, and makes comparisons to how hair has been perceived throughout history as well. I found it really fascinating, but be warned – it is quite graphic.

Disappearance by Roger Friedland

Saturday, 28 April 2012

On Appearances

“After all, I know I’m no match for This Morning’s pulchritudinous host Holly Willoughby, nor are male politicians spared ridicule about their looks (even I have noted David Cameron’s startling resemblance to Henry from Thomas the Tank Engine.)

But there is a difference in the treatment of men and women here.

A A Gill didn’t just mock Mary Beard’s hair, he suggested she shouldn’t be on our screens at all. Similarly, my not looking like Rosie Huntington-Whiteley was seen as a weapon to invalidate my opinions — something that doesn’t happen to equally genetically challenged male commentators. Beard has given a perfect illustration of how to handle such criticism, though: women mustn’t let the b******s win.”


Yes! This is exactly the difference between the way that women’s appearance is commented on and the way that men’s is. There was an article by Bryony Gordon in The Telegraph arguing that men are judged on their looks as well, it’s just that we choose to ignore it. This argument misses the point entirely. If a comment is made on a man’s appearance, such as the example she used about David Cameron looking like ham, then it doesn’t imply that because of the way they look, they are not qualified to do their job or have an opinion. However, if a woman’s appearance is commented on, such Rosamund Urwin who wrote this article being called too ugly to be a stripper, then it is a way to bar them from having an opinion. It shuts them up, undermines them, and implies that they are not qualified to be in the position they are in. That is the difference between commenting on a man’s appearance and commenting on a woman’s.

Top Girl, The Game Where Makeovers Are Mandatory and Being Hot Is Everything

“And I was disgusted: young girls already get the idea that looks and possessions matter more than personal achievements and healthy relationships from movies, TV, popular music, tabloids online and off, teen magazines, and every sort of advertising. Do they need games to reinforce that, too?” (via Jezebel)

This is so true. Games aimed at boys (as they have been for most of the time they’ve been around) are about achievements, about challenges, about beating levels and bosses and being the strongest or the most intelligent. Are games aimed at girls just going to be, as this one is, about being the prettiest, the most popular, having the most boys try to chat you up?
For another terrible example of a typical game aimed at young girls, there is this game where all you have to do is kiss Justin Bieber. That’s the whole game.

Please please please let’s not do this – for one thing, these games are SO BORING. People like Jane McGonigal have argued that games can encourage creativity and learning, but I don’t see any redeeming qualities about games like these whatsoever. Sure, young girls like them and play them, but is it good for them? Aren’t there other games that are far better that they would equally enjoy, if only they knew they were allowed to play them?

The media focuses so much on the effect of violence in videogames on young boys; how about focussing on the corrosive effects of ‘games’ that tell young girls that they are only useful if they are pink, pretty and have as many possessions as they possibly can?

Friday, 27 April 2012

The Best Performance Poet You Will Ever Hear

Seriously, if you've never listened to Sonya Renee's poetry, you need to go and rectify that mistake right now. I'd heard 'What Women Deserve' before, but didn't realise she had a whole YouTube backlist of her poetry performances. If you think poetry is dry, or boring, or useless, that it can never teach you anything, or be inspiring, or make you think, then begin with 'Slices', a horrified ode to the strangely American phenomenon of fake cheese. Just listening to her rhythm makes me want to match it in my writing, infiltrates the voice in my head, makes me hear her as a type. Listen to her.

Friday, 30 March 2012

A Site Called Vagenda

“‘Militant feminism’ is another 21st century scare, like the bird flu ‘pandemic’ and eyebrow cancer, both of which have been extensively covered by the Daily Fail. And let’s deconstruct for a second here: ‘feminism’ does, after all - and as everyone seems to voluntarily forget ALL THE TIME - mean ‘equality between women and men.’”

“That’s all feminism boils down to, at the end of the day: choice. The choice to be the most traditional homemaking mother of the pack, or the most cutthroat human rights lawyer in the Supreme Court. The choice to go out on a million, er, ‘test-driving’ dates, or to lose your virginity on your wedding night to a guy your parents introduced you to at church camp.” (The Vagenda – Have we Gone too Far?)

Yes! So glad this blog exists.

Thursday, 29 March 2012


This blog post is a brilliant reply to the misguided Cracked article called 5 Ways Modern Men Are Trained to Hate Women, that has been shared a lot recently.

Here's my favourite line from this excellent rebuttal:

“Either way, stop blaming sex for misogyny. If all men wanted was women to fuck them more, the English language wouldn't even have the word ‘slut’ in it.”

I was talking the other day with someone about equality, and she was telling me it's got better since the days they used to have beauty pageants. I said they still had them in America and she said something about American popular culture being underdeveloped or primitive.

That got me thinking whether it was true or not. I wouldn't want to offend anyone by rashly agreeing with it, because certainly the American people I've met have been very friendly and nice. When I went to New York on a school art trip when I was about 15, we met a lady in an art gallery that we got talking to accidentally, because someone had thought she was somebody else from the back. She gave us some money to go and get a coffee. We had only just met her.

We also met a couple who gave us advice on what bus to catch back to the hotel, so that we didn't have to trudge blocks and blocks back to the hotel again. We didn't know them, either; they just helped us out.

So the American people I've met have been, on the whole, friendly, outgoing and kind. Although some people just seem mental, such as the people who present Fox News, fuelled by anger and hatred, I'm sure it's the same in Britain. The mental ones give the rest of us a bad name.

But the recent crackdown on women's reproductive rights does not fit with a country that calls itself progressive. It seems strange that people who are so terrified of Communism should readily accept personality figures like the hateful Rush Limbaugh and Glen Beck telling them what to do. But then, how can you fight for women's rights against people like that, and institutions like the Church? I happen to think that they are very very wrong on these issues, but people listen to them, and they are influential. It's difficult to campaign on issues when people's opinions are influenced by religion, because that makes it a lot harder to argue with them.

I recently finished reading I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, in which Maya Angelou worries that she is a lesbian because she has read something about it, and so sleeps with a boy in her class to reassure herself that she isn't. Three months later, she finds out that she is pregnant, and has the child at 17. She loves her son and doesn't regret having him, but the choice wasn't really given to her, because she wasn't given enough education to know the consequences of her actions beforehand. One of the reasons Angelou worries that she might be a lesbian is because she thinks her body hasn't developed properly. She was not informed about her body, reassured that she was normal, or educated about sex. As such, worried and confused, she tried to reassure herself that she was normal. Now, who do you think a Republican would blame? Not society's failure to educate her about important issues, I'm sure, and I don't think the nameless boy who was the father would even get a mention.

With the recent controversies surrounding contraception in America (and a serious lack of medical understanding), I really do think I might agree that because America is such a young country, it still has a long way to go on some issues. Especially when it polices women and women's sexualities, calling anyone on birth control a slut, but completely neglects to be judgemental about, or even mention, (heterosexual) men's sexualities. It takes two to tango.

That said, we aren't immune to that in Britain either. A terrible terrible article in the Daily Mail blames women for having one night stands, with no mention of men at all, and also complains about the "widespread availability and tolerance of pornography" next to a sidebar where pictures of boobs are apparently news.

So, in summary, I don't really know what I was trying to say with this blog post, but it's been interesting thinking things through.

Monday, 19 March 2012

Test your reading speed

I got 461 words per minute, but that only puts me at about average for university students. I'm going to choose to ignore that and instead go with being 84% faster than the national average.