Sound Check for Women
You only have to flick through a few radio stations to hear the dominant voice is male. Every Sony award ceremony women are notable by their presence on stage only being to present gongs to Chris Moyles (ok not just Moyles, we all exaggerate). Only last year the imbalance in radio was highlighted by Ceri Thomas’s insistence there were not yet enough experienced female journalists with a skin thick enough to take on the mantle of a Today presenter. Fine Ceri, but if that’s the case why not go up the age and experience scale and draft P.D James in.
Photo Generation Bass
I am not a sporty person. I avoided PE all through school but I was oddly drawn to boxing. Inspired (though not enough to actually try it and risk my nose, “now I’ll never be a teen model!”) by coverage of the sport in the, now sadly defunct, J-17 magazine. J-17 spearheaded a campaign in the 90s for girls to box competitively as boys were allowed to. In 1996 the ban on women’s boxing was lifted by the ABAE (Amateur Boxing Association of England). Now it’s 2011 and we’ve moved on. To skirts. Bugger the 2012 Olympics.
AIBA, (International Boxing Association) has requested the skirts be trialled to allow spectators to distinguish female boxers from men. During last week’s European Championships in Rotterdam two countries took up the new uniform, Romania and Poland. The Poland boxing coach Leszek Piotrowski welcomed the change, “By wearing skirts, in my opinion, it gives a good impression, a womanly impression.” The Poland team redesigned the skirts to make them more elegant.
In the UK and Ireland the skirts have received a different reception. Ireland’s 3 time world champion Katie Taylor commented, "I won't be wearing a mini-skirt. I don't even wear mini-skirts on a night out, so I definitely won't be wearing mini-skirts in the ring." British lightweight champion Natasha Jonas also dismissed the skirts, “nothing practical is going to come from wearing a skirt. The only people who would want to see women in skirts are men.”
Of course to wear skirts in any sport is absurd. Everyone would see your lucky pants.
In the past decade or so Barbie seems to have come awful close to joining Noddy in the toy non grata category. Since I was a girl she’s been accused of being too blonde, too thin and too bosomy. Like most women Barbie suffers from having her qualifications overlooked. Nobody wants to talk about her surgery, her veterinary practice or her time in space
Her boyfriend Ken seems to just want to go on dates all the time, Barbie has had to have all these careers to support her bum of a boyfriend (there was that low point when they had to run a hot dog stand). And somehow, SOMEHOW she’s still found time to become an accomplished horse rider.
However, being a fashion doll Barbie is nothing if not totally with the times. She’s ditched the careers, the blonde hair and the boobs. Donning a pastel pink bob, a toy dog (obviously a toy dog, but a toy toy dog) called Bastardino and tattoos, Barbie’s got rough. Say hi to Bad Influence Barbie!
Egg Donors to get a raise
Would be egg donors could be in for a greater incentive as of today as the decision to raise the current amount given to cover travel costs and loss of earnings. It is illegal in the UK to pay for eggs or sperm; instead donors are offered £61.28 for each full day. This can rise to £250 per course or cycle of donation, alongside travel expenses.
Donor numbers are low in this country and waiting lists for donated eggs are on the rise. To counteract the shortage of donors the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) will decide today whether to pay £750 to egg donors.
Concerns have been raised that a financial incentive might cause potential donors to ignore the invasive procedures of egg donation. However the waiting list of up to 5 years is driving some abroad where all donors are paid, such as America. And we all remember what happened in Dawson's Creek when Henry donated too much blood to pay for a date with Jen. I expect.
The process for women to donate eggs can’t even begin until the woman has undergone blood pressure tests and psychological evaluations. Then the donor is given a course of hormones which suppress their menstrual cycle and stimulate the growth and maturation of eggs. Once the eggs are ready they are harvested (oh, for a word that doesn’t bring to mind a cornfield in the ovaries-it sounds itchy) under either general or local anaesthetic though a needle injected into the vagina.
As with all hormone treatments there are risks. Women are likely to suffer from mood swings, bloating and pain and in some rare cases have a severe reaction to the hormones.
The British Fertility Society chair Tony Rutherford welcomes the suggested changes opposing the fear it will turn egg donation into a commodity, "The level of compensation should be raised so that it is commensurate with what a donor has to go through." Under the current regulations women stand to make a financial loss when they undergo the invasive procedure of donating their eggs. Whether or not the donation is made purely out of the kindness of their hearts this is not to be ignored.
This is a pre-teen bra
I think almost every woman has the same story. One day, they came home from school to be greeted by their mother. “There’s something on your bed for you.” And there it is. You don’t have to look inside the BHS/M&S plastic bag to guess that what’s burning a hole through it is a 28 AAA white bra.
Growing up is a cringe-worthy business. Anything that can be done to make the transition from girl to woman any easier is welcome. After the PR disaster that was the BHS Little Miss pre-teen padded bras (BHS, I just don’t think the Daily Mail is ever going to let that go) Tesco has designed a new preteen bra, Fleur First.
Image: Kevin Dooley
Twitter users might have recently noticed the hash-tag #whatsexedtaughtme popping up accompanied by a brief description of the tweeter’s sex education at school. This is part of a study held by Brook, a sexual health service for under 25s, researching the state of sex education in schools. The results are unsurprising.
Teenagers want more say in their sex education. A poll taken by Brook revealed that of over 2,000 14 to18 year olds 78% did not feel they had the chance to influence the content of their lessons and 72% thought they should have more influence over their sex and relationships education (SRE).
It was revealed in a Research Bods survey that teenagers get about 13% of their sex ed from an SRE teacher, 10% from a parent and 14% from magazine agony aunts, books, music lyrics and videos. These are the reliable sources teenagers are using. Although I shudder to think what music lyrics they are referring to. Unless SRE classes are now ending with a sing-along.
If Portas ran the world
Theresa May. Yes, leopard wellington boots.
Apparently it’s not enough that there are currently only 4 female cabinet members. No, now we have to have a discussion about how badly dressed they are as well.
Comments made by Mary Portas in an interview with Heat magazine (another publication we're not putting in live links to) calling the quartet an “ugly bunch” in need of a “restyle” have attracted a predictable amount of coverage. Unlike any of the actual work of the cabinet members, that’s not important.
Because looking like a glamorous model is of course a prerequisite for being the Home secretary, Conservative Party Chair, Environment Secretary or Welsh Secretary. Not having knowledge of law or policy. That is, of course, highly arguable given the previous incumbents of these positions…
Portas’ PR insists her comments were "firmly tongue in cheek and again made in very much a light-hearted way, as is the nature of (Heat) magazine."
The interview follows the release of a recent Proctor & Gamble sponsored Harvard study which found women who wear little to no make-up are seen as less trustworthy than those who really slap it on. Scrubbed clean you’re probably a lying lesbian but wear kitten heels ONE TIME and every report about you will mention your ‘passion for shoes’ in the first paragraph.
So ladies, what have we learned? Less time on policies, more time in Debenhams buying sensible shoes and matching eye shadow. Or we’ll never get out of this recession.
Louise & Kate
Yeti mystery afoot
I once earned 15 house points at my Studley primary school for describing (I am guessing it was an exercise in adjectives) a yeti. I had been reading about them in the Usbourne book of Mysteries & Marvels of Nature (page 92, it's very well thumbed) and was rapt. My hopes of crossing paths with a yeti in the wilds of the west midlands were distant but it now seems should I fly to Russia I definitely maybe might be in with a chance. And just in time for Kate Bush's new Yeti themed single!
Mysterious Ms. title petition
photo: Jeff Sandquist
I've used the title Ms for as long as I can remember. Why wouldn't I?
Well, when I was 18 my boss at my terrible telesales job told me I couldn't use the title 'Ms' because it was only for divorced women.
At my right-on university I was informed that the title was only used by lesbians.
And when I got married everyone, even those who didn't have a problem with the fact that I'd kept my own surname, assumed I would now become a 'Mrs'.
I didn't actually beat these people over the head while shouting 'THE WHOLE POINT OF USING THE TITLE 'MS' IS NOT TO DISCLOSE A WOMAN'S MARITAL STATUS! WHY WOULD I CHANGE IT NOW?!', but I wanted to. And it seems I'm not alone.
A new petition on the government's e-petition website calls for Ms to be "the ONLY title for women." Granted, there are only 43 signatures at the time of writing - a far cry from the 100, 000 needed to force a debate in the House of Commons, but it's always nice to know you're not the only one. A similar campaign in France to make Madame the single title for women has more backing. This was started by the brilliantly named Chiennes de garde and Osez le Feminisme and it looks like their idea has crossed the channel.
It might seem like a trivial issue in some respects, but it's a source of annoyance that it's taken as a given that people should be able to tell my marital status from my name - my husband is incredibly important to me, but he has not changed my identity.
Amendments to the Protections of Freedoms Bill tabled by the government will erase old convictions for consensual homosexual sex and loitering with intent.
Once the bill is passed, men with previous convictions will be able to apply to have them erased from their criminal record. At the moment these convictions have to be declared when applying for a job or voluntary role that requires a CRB check.
Gay sex was only legalised in England and Wales in 1967, with the age of consent set at 21. This was reduced to 18 in 1994 and only changed to 16, the same as the age of consent between different-sex partners, in 2000. The changes didn’t affect existing convictions, meaning thousands of men were left with convictions for crimes that don’t exist, and should never have been illegal anyway.
Stonewall have long campaigned for the change to the law, and gave evidence to the Public Bill Committee considering the Protection of Freedoms Bill on 24 March 2011.
Chief Executive Ben Summerskill commented
“For some gay men, these convictions have continued to overshadow their lives long after the offences were removed from the statute book. Britain has moved on. It’s only right that these men should be free to apply for jobs and voluntary roles without fearing that these historic and unjust convictions will be revealed through criminal record checks.”
The bill is still to be passed – you can encourage your MP to support it by visiting this site.