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Today UK government will be hosting the Girl Summit with UNICEF. The summit is focusing on ending female genital mutilation, as well as early and forced marriage. According to UNICEF statistics over 125 million women and girls today - not ever, now, today - have been cut. UNICEF fears that if current trends continue "as many as 30 million girls are at risk of being cut before their 15th birthday. This summit is intending to galvanise a global effort to end "child, early and forced marriage and FGM for all girls within a generation" thereby promoting education, freedom and safety for more women and girls in the future.
The Freedom to End FGM
Our Bodies, Our Crisis
I don't think anybody appreciates being tricked. I don't think anybody likes being manipulated and I don't think anybody thinks vulnerable people deserve to be emotionally abused when they seek help about a difficult and potentially life changing situation. Telegraph reporters recently investigated a crisis pregnancy centre and found that counsellors were spouting complete untruths designed to frighten people into continuing their pregnancy. You have probably heard some of these before, that abortion leaves you infertile or unable to carry a pregnancy to full term. That abortion will somehow give you breast cancer (I assume the science behind that is boobs have their own moral code and will turn on you) post termination. But had you heard that abortion can cause "an increased statistical likelihood of child abuse". Also if you have an abortion you will smell funny and are statistically more likely to touch dogs in odd ways.
The Feman behind the Curtain
Can you be a male and a feminist, or a male feminist, or a pro-feminist male? I think so. Can you be a man and start a feminist society. I suppose so. I mean... there's no law against it. It's probably not the optimum feminist environment for a group or men (group? Gang? Pod? Fistful? What's the collective term for men?) to be the founding members of a feminist society. It rather smacks of what some might call a manarchist movement.
Some feminist societies have certainly noticed men coming in trying to be supportive, but forgetting that space is required over suggestions or statements. Kelley Temple put it well saying: "Men who want to be feminists do not need to be given a space in feminism. They need to take the space they have in society and make it feminist."
Ironing Out UKIP's Sexism
Ladies, you can join but you can't park. Image: Astral Media
Former Tory Janice Atkinson is one of the former party members who have defected to UKIP due to clashing with Cameron on Europe. Recently, in light of other UKIP members making comments that some might view as...problematic Atkinson has spoken out in the Times about why, apart from European matters, she joined UKIP.
Writing in the Yorkshire Post on why she defected from the Tories in 2011, missing their Manchester conference Atikinson noted: "I won't get to attend many of the fringe events that represent the real Conservative Party and I will miss having a drink with my friends but apart from that, no. It was much more fun in Eastbourne with Nigel Farage and co."
To Catch a Predator
The Misfits. Bad girls.
I wasn't sure how to introduce this post. Because by now the coverage of the case of Neil Wilson, given a lenient sentence for sexually abusing a minor because the judge accepted the prosecution's portrayal of her as 'predatory' seems to have almost ubiquitous coverage.
I've watched it grow - from a tweet on my time line from a court reporting account; through discussions about whether it could possibly be an accurate depiction of what was said in court; and counsel about confusing 'summing up the prosecution' with 'the views of the judge' to full-blown coverage on the evening news (where, incidentally, fuller transcript releases showed both to be horrendous).
Are Women Parliament's Panacea?
So restful... Image: Shayan
One of the peculiar things women spend their life having to contend is the idea that we are the purer, calmer, more peaceful sex. When a girl isn't diligent at her school work, or at least hand her homework in on time (or, in my case, at all) she's probably under the bad influence of some no good boy. If she isn't neat and reticent she's a tomboy.
I was quietly making a batch of beer mustard on a Friday evening, listening to Any Questions and one question made my cider vinegar (it's an ingredient) befuddled ears prick up. "Is it acceptable behaviour for MPs to act like school children in a playground in the House of Commons; what sort of example is it setting to our future generations?"
Wake the Heckle Up
Let's talk about heckling again (bollocks!). Recently Michelle Obama hit the headlines (or the comment pieces) after she dealt with a heckler surprisingly unsnappily. I had credited the First Lady with a knack for a good one liner but no. When heckled by Ellen Sturtz regarding Barack Obama's delay in signing executive order barring discrimination by federal contractors based on sexual orientation Michelle Obama said: "Listen to me, or you can take the mic but I'm leaving."
She didn't leave, she resumed. Sturtz didn't heckle for the rest of the speech. Heckling hasn't simply become - like the rainbow parties* of Ariel Levy's book Female Chauvinist Pigs - something the press is talking about but nobody is doing. It is not reserved for sweaty comedy clubs, PMQs (is that heckling? Or political banter? Why can I never remember which is which?!) and rallies. Heckling seems to be gaining ground, does this mean we are waking up?
The Breast of Feminism
Image: Bastien Deceuninck
Hey, people...boobies. HAHAHA! Anything funnier? Anything more worthy of marking a significant amount of tweets than the word 'boobs'? Isn't the number sequence 5318008 what calculators were designed for? If you want to raise a smirk you can usually find success with some variation of the word 'boobs'. Why? I don't know they are just funny.
Boobs are absurd, no-one knows quite why they exist. My favourite theory is the flat face theory by anthropologist Gillian Bentley. Breasts became necessary as our faces got flatter, in order to prevent suffocation as our flatter faces breastfed. Although I am also fond of Henri de Mondeville's thoughts on breast placement. The father of French surgery wrote to King Philippe le Bel of France in the 14th century: "The reasons why the breasts of women are on the chest, whereas other animals more often have them elsewhere, are of three kinds. First, the chest is a noble, notable and chaste place and thus they can be decently shown. Secondly, warmed by the heart, they return their warmth to it so that this organ strengthens itself. The third reason applies only to big breasts which, by covering the chest, warm, cover and strengthen the stomach". (Quick book recommendation if you want to take your knowledge of breasts to dinner party connoisseur level read Breasts: a Natural and Unnatural History by Florence Williams).
Paris, Paris, Paris! Out Out Out!
Image: Robert Huffstutter
Yesterday due to scheduling (yes we have a schedule, what?) and general fatigue from Thatcher coverage, we didn't write about the death of former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. However yesterday in amongst the coverage of Thatcher's death, her funeral, her legacy was the news that teen czar, or Youth Police and Crime Commissioner, Paris Brown had stepped down from her czaring.
It was always going to be a tough job. Defending giving a teenager a 15,000 salary to generally teen about and update the police on teen stuff. Any job with czar in the title is traditionally difficult to defend or define. Unless you're heading up Russia in a past century.
J'Accuse Rape Culture
Image: Chatham House
Some weeks are more trying than others. Some weeks are more trigger-laden than others. But I can guarantee you that – due to the rule of it's all relative! – every week holds triggers for someone. This week figures regarding false rape allegations have been released by the Crown Prosecution Service and it seems reporting and interpreting numbers is hard.
Look, I find numbers hard, but I took my maths GCSE a (probably) record amount of times. You've seen Elf right? You know that scene with Will Ferrell in elf class being too big for this elfin desk? That was me. Only I was the oldest in the class – not the biggest (in fact I was the smallest and so my desk, like my school trousers, overwhelmed me. I probably would have ACED elf class. But that's enough Squeamish Kate trivia for one day). However I can usually work out which number is the larger and therefore more concerning/bigger piece of the cake.