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.