I don't know anybody who has what can be described as a 'good' smear test story as such. Funny? Yeah, sure why not. Shocking? Yes. Embarrassing? Uh, yes. But I don't know one woman who can tell, or hear a smear test story without automatically crossing her legs. It isn't something that comes up much in polite conversation because eeeeesh! Charity PR don't seem to be able to make the entrance to the womb cute. Which is silly because, armed with my Biology AS Level I understand it to be pink. That's a lady marketing dream, no? And there doesn't seem to be much happening in way of making the test less invasive. Bar tips on demanding plastic speculums, or if it is metal, demanding it be warmed. A friend once got her labia nipped by a speculum. What can you recommend to solve that? Loose lips...Speculum nips.
It is the subject that divides feminists more than the subject of male presence in feminist spaces. More than what importance we place on being cis or not being transphobic. More than the luxuriousness of our bikini lines. More than whether or not we heat our communes by using putting bras in the brazier (I slay me). It is the subject of sex work. Should we support it or not? How do we define the peculiar line of 'selling your body' (if I seem biased, it's because I am)? Who is exploiting who here? Or are 2 (or more) consenting adults entering into an agreed service purchase? Argh, so many questions! What I do know as a responsible feminist is that we don't want the adult sex workers (note distinction from traffiked humans) who live this life, work this work, making any of the decisions over their lives.
Iain Banks Image: Stuart Caie
In an announcement that caused his website to crash, author Iain [M] Banks yesterday shared the devastating news that he has late stage gall bladder cancer, and may only have months to live. Squeamish Louise and Gareth pay tribute to the work of an extraordinary writer...
The announcement was beautifully written - emotive, with a strand of dark humour. Of course it was. But it was impossible to read without an almost physical reaction of sadness. Banks has written 26 novels - 14 as Iain Banks and a further 12 as Iain M Banks. But when he dies we'll be losing more than just a prolific author.
How do you like dem apples? (pixelated for decency) Image:Srqpix
Porn. It’s the big subject Western feminists have, depending on your stance, the luxury to bicker over or the calling to destroy all forms of it. Recently there has been a lot of concern that young people’s first exposure to sex is porn, which they use in lieu of proper sex education at school or from their parents. It’s possible this causes huge misunderstanding about bodies and creates…expectations. It’s been blamed for sexting (I blame phones) among teens and causing greater anxiety over body issues. Many people find it just plain offensive.
Maybe we would all like some good porn related news. Yeah? Yeah. According to a study at Indiana University watching porn (any porn) makes heterosexual men more tolerant of the idea of equal marriage. If you don’t think that is good news, perhaps you should go watch a little porn. Right now. You’re online, it’s pretty hard to avoid. I’ll wait.
Breast exam. Image: SteveR
WOMEN! Are you a woman? Then you absolutely must have a smear test at the age of 20! It's a matter of life or death! No, actually 25. But it's still a matter of life or death! Glad that's over? Oh you have to have that every couple of years. Also you're hurtling towards a very necessary/unnecessary breast exam, do you check your breasts? Right, you must check them, you can do it anywhere. At the bus stop, at the till, doing the school run, nobody will notice. Oh no wait that's kegels. Do not check your breasts anywhere. Do your kegels like you've got a ping pong tournament approaching and check your breasts in a private moment.
As women get older we all know they begin to fall apart. This can be due to excess bloating, migraines, crow's feet, cellulite, excess bikini line hair and shameful constipation that results in flat hair. Also flat hair. As if those afflictions weren't enough there is also the possibility of cervical cancer and breast cancer to contend with.
Today is the first ever United Nations International Day of the Girl Child (The term 'Girl Child' here is used to highlight the particular struggles young women and girls under 18) . Today's International Day of the Girl was lobbied for by the people behind the Because I am a Girl...campaign Plan UK in order to have a “day in recognition of girls' rights and accomplishments”.
Plan UK hope, through new awareness, to generate more signatures for their petition to put pressure on UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon to “lead action by world leaders to make girls' education a priority.”
Global statistics show that 1 in 3 girls are denied a secondary education due to poverty, discrimination and violence. If that doesn't convince you to add your signature how about the statistic that every 3 seconds a girl is coaxed, coerced or forced into a marriage?
Social isolation is to be added Image: G Kovacs
It has been announced today that the definition of domestic abuse will be changed in March 2013 to include the term 'coercive control'. The addition means a pattern of behaviour that is psychologically, emotionally, socially or financially controlling can be considered as a form of domestic abuse.
This will be added to the 2004 definition of domestic abuse: "any incident of threatening behaviour, or abuse between adults who are or have been intimate partners or family members, regardless of gender or sexuality"
As the cabinet reshuffle took place today, I was surrounded – physically and digitally – with people dissecting the moves. Hey, these people are running the country. They deserve our scrutiny, if not our respect. So what does the picture look like now?
It's easy to look at a reshuffle as a rearrangement of the deckchairs on the Titanic (a metaphor I'll be glad if I never have to read again, particularly in the BBC's comments section), but there are always reasons behind these moves.
More than a kitchen sink drama. Image: Micah Sittig
It's Monday, let's start the week with some positive news.
Conviction rates for domestic violence cases has risen from 69% in 2007-8 to 73% according to reports from the Crown Prosecution Service. Speaking on BBC Radio 4 today director of Public Prosecutions Keir Starmer, who implemented a 4 year strategy, said they were taking “steps on a long journey”. It is important to note, as Starmer has, that while this is important progress it is just that: progress. On average a woman will experience domestic violence a total of 30 times before she will report it, the statistics we have on domestic abuse are no doubt inaccurate because so many cases go unreported and unacknowledged.
As part of the 4 year strategy concerning violence against women and girls Starmer has identified, with the help of women's groups and charities such as Refuge, the problem of reporting cases. In another interview with the BBC "There is still a significant problem in terms of encouraging people to come forward." Starmer acknowledged that there are some women who have reported DV in the past only for the case to be dropped, making the idea of reporting seem futile.
Brain in a jar. Image: Kaushik Narasimhan
It has always been my suspicion that IQ might be up there with BMI in questionableness. I am saying this as someone who (according to their mother) got a very high IQ score (she can't remember the exact score “but it was just below genius, no it was GENIUS”) and has a low BMI (according to the BBC I have the body of a woman from the Philippines). At least if BMI doubters turn out to be wrong the question of losing or gaining weight is, though difficult, doable. IQ is another matter, which perhaps contributes to its debatable status.
The fact our collective Intelligenz-Quotient is apparently on the rise according to the Flynn Effect is argument enough against the validity of IQ standardised testing (or perhaps the questions and puzzles are piss easy now, not like in my day...). “In the last 100 years the IQ scores of both men and women have risen but women’s have risen faster” said IQ expert Professor James Flynn. “This is a consequence of modernity. The complexity of the modern world is making our brains adapt and raising our IQ.”