On judgemental feminists

I’ve recently encountered two problematic instances of feminist writers policing the behaviour of other women. These examples, which I’m about to explore, baffle and annoy me in equal measure. Why are presumably well-intentioned women telling women how to behave? Do they think we don’t get enough of that?

Halloween harlots

Let’s start with my favourite of all the pagan holidays, Halloween. I love dressing up at Halloween, with its implicit freedom to wander the streets dressed as a banshee, a tiger, or Kermit the Frog, without folks passing judgement on my sartorial choices or sanity. That’s not to say I find Halloween costumes unproblematic – why does the Leather Face (Texas Chainsaw Massacre) butcher’s costume have a miniskirt apron? And why is there such a dearth of ‘non-sexy’ costumes for those of us who want to buy them? These thoughts have often gone through my head, and when I hear them articulated by other women, I sympathise.

Where I lose sympathy is the point where feminists tell their adult peers how to dress at Halloween – or equally as annoyingly, how not to. Which brings me to this recent article by Hadley Freeman, who tells us to “dress like a jelly bean, ladies! Yes, it does make your bum look big and, no, no one can see your breasts, and that’s just great”. This is cleverly couched in an article that at first glance is about the lost “innocent joy” (did it ever exist?) of Halloween, yet which goes on to say “I’m not here to slut-shame women who dress like sexy hamburgers for Halloween. But ….. Halloween should be an opportunity for people to show off their creativity, not their side boob”.

As a woman, I really do encounter other people’s expectations on how I should dress (short skirts = rape, remember?) often enough already. I do not need this writer, purportedly on the side of feminism, adding her demands to the mix. It represents yet another voice telling women that our behaviour isn’t good enough (“too much boob! Not enough creativity!”). I’m weary of it: one of the age-old problems women face is being held up to a higher standard of behaviour than men. If we fall short of this, we are punished. And dress is a common, spurious focus of blame: a recent, typical example being the #iammorethanadistraction hashtag, spawned after girls in various American schools were told to cover up or wear “shame suits” based on their clothing choices. People have far too much to say about what women should and should not wear: they need to pipe down. Coming from feminists, this hectoring is especially galling.

There is hope though!  I just came across this tweet from left-wing feminist Laurie Penny. A right-on attitude.

Beng a wife and a complicit misogynist

I found out this weekend that most of my friends are complicit misogynists. By adopting their husbands’ name upon marriage, they have been apportioned some blame for the “centuries of misogyny” that have oppressed other women. Not by me, I hasten to add: this was a comment made by a friend on Facebook, under a BBC article discussing women changing their name upon marriage. Which brings me to my second wearying example of  women judging and policing other women.

I find myself arguing from an odd viewpoint here: I find the idea of exchanging one name for another a pointless tradition, rooted in the times a daughter was literally ‘given away’ by her father; a flesh-and-blood chattel, if you like. I intend to keep my name when I get married next year because a) it’s my identity and b) it’s a link to my father and also my paternal grandmother, who I was very close to.

That said, I have no judgement to offer on the women who decide to change their name to their husband’s.  It’s their name, after all. Judgement – what on earth gives me the right to judge other people? I can understand and respect women who say ”I wouldn’t change my name” (their name, their choice), but not those who censure and belabour other women who choose to do so. It’s an incredibly arrogant standpoint: to condemn every woman who changes her name, when there is no possibility of knowing their individual circumstances and motivations. A recent Vagenda piece where the writer expressed her “ dare I say it – disappointment” when women “shuffle off into marriage” and take their husbands’ name was met by some interesting responses, including:

Blog3

I’m generally a big fan of the Vagenda, but its writers have been accused on various occasions of writing from a position of middle class, white woman privilege. This recent article, while containing a lot of fair points, includes a thread of the pitying condescension that attracts such criticism. I can imagine the self-congratulatory writer, pluming herself on her sagacity as she thinks “I’m so cerebral. If only other women would think about these issues as deeply as I do!” As these comments from various women demonstrate, it’s breathtakingly arrogant of her to assume they haven’t.

Censuring women who change their name is another example of the higher standards of behaviour forced on women, by women. Feminism, at its most simple level, is about the right to equality. Surely that includes an equal right to self-expression? To wear what you like, call yourself what you like – as a man would?

To me, those who seek to belabour women for their choices are simply  derailing  the journey to equality:  women should be free to make decisions without  fearfully looking over their shoulder and wondering who they’re letting down: their school,  PTA, religion, or in this case, self-righteous feminists.

Some sisterly solidarity wouldn’t go amiss. And less judging.

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Why I’m done with Facebook: organ harvesting and narcissism

Someone recently asked my mum if I had voluntarily scarpered from Facebook. There was a huffy aspect to this person’s questioning as if she couldn’t fathom why I wouldn’t want to continue seeing boring updates and pictures of raw chickens wearing onions (seriously) at the price of handing over all my personal information on a plate to a monolithic company.

The steady drip-feed of creepily invasive questions is what pushed me over the edge and into the arms of deactivation in May. The tipping point came when I logged in find Facebook blandly asking “When did you meet Daniel?” (my fiancé). It helpfully encouraged me to add the month and the year. I’m bemused on two fronts here: why does Facebook fondly imagine that anyone would care when I met my fiance? And more importantly, when did it decide to become an online interrogator?

I shouldn’t have been surprised to be questioned in this way, as a few weeks previously Facebook had asked me if I’m a registered organ donor. Is it just paranoia from watching Ewan McGregor in the Island recently, or is Facebook’s next move to harvest my organs? When you’re asking yourself this, it’s really time for a re-think.

This massive corporation wants to know every country I’ve visited, the films I’ve seen, the books I’ve read, the cities I’ve lived, what I studied at school, where I used to work. Does no-one else find this really fricking intrusive? And it’s not as if  I’m giving this information to a friend, or a benign Santa-like figure.  It’s a publicly listed company, run in the interests of its shareholders, having unrivalled access to every seemingly insignificant detail about me.

Oh, and I’ve to hand over all this information for free.  And if  I’m really lucky, Facebook will pocket some advertising dollars so I can see some cliched age-and-gender based adverts in my feed.

Turns out I’m not alone here. To date, over 400,000 people have signed a petition asking Facebook to stop forcing users to install its latest messaging app. The app sounds innocuous enough – until you accept the terms and conditions. By accepting them, you let Facebook  access your phone’s  camera and images, call and send messages without your consent, and access information about all of your contacts. Oh, and they can send that info on to third parties.

Needless to say, I have no intention of signing up for any of that.

LOOK AT ME!

Turning from Facebook’s monumental snoopiness, I also think it brings out the worst in people. The looming example of this is oversharing pictures. If, when I met my friends face-to-face, they always showed me holiday pictures and baby pictures, I would be bored witless. It’s behaviour that would be deemed odd and tedious. Why then do it online? Call me crazy, but the act of constantly parading pictures of yourself is not a trait to be valued in another person. Yes, you’re superficially communicating with another human being by sharing photos and having them comment on them. But how is this exchange in any way interesting or meaningful? Why not Skype or god forbid, speak in person?

Einstein defines insanity as doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. If that’s true, I must be certifiably nuts based on the number of times I’ve refreshed my Facebook in the vain hope it will elicit something interesting. No more: I’m done.

Silencing tactics: the sexist shitcake

I wrote previously about the silencing tactics often used on women who challenge damaging sexist norms. It’s something I find galling – the frequency with which a woman draws attention to a piece of sexist/unfair behaviour, to be told it isn’t a problem and to stop complaining.

It’s a double whammy: you have the oppressive silencing tactic handed to you as a cherry on the cake of whatever was sexist in the first place.

I came across a classic example of this today. Retailer M&S is running a ‘Leading Ladies’ campaign that includes models chosen for their achievements. Enter Roma Agrawal, an Indian-born structural engineer who worked on the Shard in London. She got involved to encourage women and girls to become engineers, and to challenge the UK’s perception of girls’ and boys’ subjects in the UK. In her words:

“There’s less of a divide between girls’ and boys’ subjects in India than here. It’s normal there for girls to study science. I didn’t realise that a gender divide existed until I came to university at Oxford. I looked around the lecture theatre and there were about 10 girls in a class of 150. That’s when I thought this was kind of weird. We are designing things for society and if the people designing them only represent a small proportion of society we probably can’t deliver well.”

So far, so good. Kudos to M&S for choosing role models on the basis of their academic/professional achievements, and to Agrawal for trying to show women that science and engineering are valid career choices. Where it turns to shit is the following crap reporting from the Evening Standard:

“This softly spoken 30-year-old in a yellow dress is the woman who made sure the biggest erection in Western Europe didn’t fall down”.

Obviously, what an article reporting on celebrating women for their achievements really needs is an allusion to the women’s sexual appeal. She might have helped construct the Shard but let’s not forget her ability to sexually excite men!

Agrawal’s spot-on response was to challenge the paper, on the basis that “this one sentence contradicts the core message of the article: that women can excel in engineering and other male dominated industries on their merit. I believe women should be judged on their skills and contribution in the workplace and shouldn’t have to fear being sexualised”. The Standard refused to edit or remove the comment, on the basis that it was, in their own words, “light humour”.

So there we have the sexist shitcake. Now for the cherry silencer, which came in the form of a comment from the charming ‘Whigwham”.

 

capture

 

Note the helpful copy-and-paste explanation of the word ‘erection’. Silly engineer lady doesn’t know the meaning of the word, and clearly needs to be told!

I was tempted to respond with a correspondingly helpful explanation of the word ‘pun’, but sadly the comments thread had closed. To illustrate that the “light humour” (the Standard’s own phrase, remember) of the comment hinges on the dual meanings of ‘erection’: she helped erect the Shard and she can erect penises too! See what the writer has done there? Clever, eh Whigwham?

“What’s the problem?”, he asks.  (I am assuming it’s a he. If he/she is reading this and wants to correct me, feel free). The problem, dear sir, is that this woman has raised a legitimate objection to a sexist remark, made doubly worse in the context of an article about valuing women on their achievements, not their sexual attraction. But of course, you, being a man, know better. There is no problem, no sexual objectification, and if anything this woman is prejudiced and needs to take a look at herself! Why is she complaining?

Astoundingly, five other fuckwits read that comment and decided that the appropriate response was to recommend it.

You do have to wonder about people who dismiss someone’s rational, well-reasoned point of view so casually. Their thought process seems to be that because they haven’t experienced sexism themselves, it doesn’t exist. It seemingly doesn’t occur to them to listen to their fellow human beings – if they’re women, at any rate.

My month volunteering in Rajasthan

This time last year, I decided to take some time off work to go to India. I think if you spend years working in Corporateland (especially finance) there’s a chance that you lose touch with reality. Your life becomes a round of meetings, expensive coffee, and commuting, and you forget that there is actually a whole world out there where none of that matters.

I did some research online and found Sankalp (Hindi for ‘helping hand’), an NGO with volunteer placements in various locations across India. And in November 2013, I set off to spend a month working in an orphanage in Jaipur.

It’s taken me a few months to gather my thoughts and write about my time in Jaipur. It’s hard to make sense of the good (helping people, making friends, experiencing a new culture) and the bad (poverty, inequality and how they blight people’s lives).

My working day started at 8.00am, when I was picked up from the volunteer house and driven to the orphanage, home to 30-odd children aged 0-6 years. The kids would be drowsy but reasonably cheerful, and our first job was to get them undressed, washed, and dressed again. Peeling clothes off wriggling kids is a challenge but also a good opportunity to interact and make them laugh. The wee ones were generally a bit reluctant to go the washroom. Not that I blamed them, I wouldn’t be up for early icy wash either.

Next up was drying time. There were two towels between the 30 kids, which meant that the kids at the end of the queue were invariably dried with a damp-to-sopping-wet towel. This is an example of a small thing that could have managed better for the sake of the kids.  The poor buggers at the end of the line  would reluctantly shuffle forward to be enveloped in a dripping wet towel. The towels were washed daily in a huge washer, there were plenty of them, so I couldn’t see any need for this stinginess.

This situation frequently led to fractious conversations between us volunteers and the staff – me asking for a towel, and them refusing. I get the impression the staff saw us as decadent, wasteful Westerners, and while there’s a fair bit of truth to that,  these are orphans who have no family, schooling or toys.  Would it have been so hard to give them a comfortable wash in the morning?

Once or twice, the younger kids would be handed to me to dry having not been washed properly by the staff. This was particularly true of the toddlers and disabled children. I found one of the carers holding a disabled 2-year old at arm’s length with a sneer of disgust on her face, before handing him to to dry. He had soiled his nappy and she hadn’t bothered to clean him properly. I wanted, to use some charming Scottish parlance, to skelp her. I had to remind myself that the workers themselves received very low wages, with a standard of living far below my own, so it was a bit rich of me to judge them.

This was a common occurrence for me – tied up in Western guilt over conduct I felt showed a complete lack of compassion or humanity, while trying to remind myself that I was there to help, not to judge. As an example, one of the women would threaten and  hit the children with a wooden stick as a means of chastisement. They weren’t physically bruised or damaged afterwards, but they were cowed and scared, and it broke my heart.

Orphan drop box - how some of the kids arrived.
Orphan drop box – how some of the kids arrived.

Orphanage life

Returning to he daily routine: after washing, it was playtime, my favourite part of the day. There were limited toys in the orphanage, but we would play games with the older kids, and sit with the younger ones on our knees. I should have said – as far as  Sankalp was concerned, that was the volunteers’ main role – to give affection to the kids. Around six of the kids were sponsored, and therefore went to school. The rest didn’t attend school, despite India’s universal right to education act. You need a birth certificate to gain admittance to many schools, which in practical terms excludes many orphans.

One little boy had TB, so he was kept apart from the others (somewhat inconsistently, some, but not all of the time). One of the girls I volunteered with – a tiny, big-hearted Aussie girl – was desperate to hug him, but she hadn’t been immunised against TB. She hated to see him excluded, and unable to understand why. If I was to make a criticism of Sankalp, it would be not telling the volunteers in advance that could be exposed to kids with diseases such as TB (and Hepatitis).

Having re-read the above, I feel I’ve painted a bleak picture of the orphanage, and it’s not my intention here to criticise it. It gives these kids a roof over their heads, relative stability and plenty of food. It’s trying to give them a chance in life, or at the very least, to preserve them from immediate poverty. That said, the lack of education opportunities for these kids makes me so frustrated and depressed. I played a counting game with a little boy who was innately so quick, yet he’ll grow up illiterate. For girls, the outlook is even more bleak. There was a courtyard under the orphanage where some older orphans, (young women really) lived. Without a dowry, they’re looking at marriage to someone coming to the orphanage looking for a wife. And without education, they’re wholly reliant on their looks and domestic skills. As someone a bit obsessed with gender equality, all of this was hard for me to take.

Weekend roaming - the camel fair at Pushkar
Weekend roaming – the camel fair at Pushkar

After hours: roaming

My working day in the orphanage would end at lunchtime, meaning afternoons and weekends were entirely free to explore. I do find myself equally charmed and frustrated by India. On the one hand, it’s breathtakingly beautiful. Jaipur, the  ’pink city’ is aptly named – the buildings glow pink in the sun, and there’s a constant hum and red dust as people go about their business. Even the everyday, the mundane looks beautiful to a stranger, like catching a glimpse of a bright sari through the heat and haze.

I love Indians’ laid-back attitude to time-keeping. It really appeals to me. It proves what I always suspected: the world doesn’t end if you do something a little later, or differently, to how you originally planned.

Exploring and chatting
Exploring and chatting

Before visiting Jaipur, I hadn’t seen an elephant in the flesh before. The first time I saw one in the street I was pointing and shouting like an idiot, much to the amusement of the locals.  Later in the month, we spent the afternoon at Elefantastic, an elephant sanctuary. Seeing elephants up close for the first time was genuinely amazing, and even more importantly, I came away with the impression the owner of the sanctuary really cared about the welfare of his elephants.

The frustration came out when I went out with other Western girls. I get that people will try to overcharge us – by their standards we’re rich, so I don’t really blame them for trying to get money out of us, in rickshaws, at stalls, whatever. I’d probably do the same. What made me uncomfortable was the staring, and following, generally by younger guys. We were all wearing clothes we bought for our placements, a kurta and trousers, so we were always respectably dressed. Despite this, we were approached by men quite frequently, and all groped on at least one occasion.

To compound things on a personal level,  I had spent the three months prior to Jaipur living in London, where I had unlimited freedom of movement. In the volunteer house, we adhered to a curfew of 9pm, and the female volunteers were discouraged from going out at all after dark. Having my freedom limited by my gender was a new and sobering experience for me.
Another aspect to volunteering is that you meet loads of different people. I was really lucky to volunteer alongside some great socially-minded people who really wanted to make a difference. That said, I did find myself getting frustrated with one of my roomates who didn’t have a negative thing to say about India. We had nearly enough common ground – concern for the orphans – but not quite enough to be friends. I would balk at the wasted opportunities for the young, and feel my heckles rising on a personal level at the attitudes towards women. She would talk about how she felt ‘so at home’ in India, that it was such a spiritual and relaxing place,  but her eyes seemed shut to the glaring social inequalities in India. India offers hospitality, beauty, the opportunity to explore on a huge scale. I can see that, and love it. But the poverty and the gender inequality are still there. My conclusion – embrace it warts and all, but don’t pretend the warts aren’t here.

Jaipur - an incense-smoking pig
Jaipur – an incense-smoking pig

The Sun’s Page 3: the last refuge of idealism

It’s come to my attention that the editors and in-house supporters of the Sun’s Page 3 are living a lie. They are pretending to be an arrogant  parcel of bogroll-floggers, careless of the soft porn they expel into the nation’s homes  and workplaces on a daily basis. But I’ve caught them out. In reality, they are idealists hiding in plain sight, using the Sun to promote the Bohemian ideals of beauty, freedom and truth.

This first became evident to me when the Sun’s then editor, Dominic Mohan, defended Page 3 to the Leveson enquiry on the grounds it celebrates “natural beauty”. In a world where old-fashioned paper sales are in terminal decline, and it’s every man (or paper) for himself, it’s so edifying to find a good man like Dom, ready to put his head above the parapet and admit he makes editorial decisions to “celebrate” beauty. It’s not about the bottom line people! As the chap in American Beauty says, “there’s so much beauty in the world”, and the Sun just wants to share it with us all.

I assume from the absolute dearth of men appearing on Page 3 that its editorial team thinks men are incapable of ‘natural beauty’. And judging by the rest of the Sun, where men are shown undertaking serious pursuits (oh, and wearing clothes), a sceptical person might conclude that it cynically uses undressed women to sell papers. But that can’t be true. The Sun is just steadfast in its celebration of women’s beauty. Take Reeva Steenkamp, the woman who was found shot dead by her partner. How to position that one on the front page? “Victim of a cold-blooded killer?” “Tragedy of a woman shot in the dark?” Based on the front page the day after she was killed, I assume it went like this: “I know! She’s a blonde stunna and we have a picture of her in a bikini shot with a cracking rack. That’ll do for the front page!” That’s how much the Sun celebrates beauty – even dignity and respect for the newly dead come second.

Freeeeeeedom!

The new editor, David Dinsmore and his fellow freedom fighters at the Sun believe that Page 3 is a great British tradition. I disagree – I think freedom of the press is the real great British tradition. The ability to speak the truth and not be silenced should be protected and preserved to our last breath. This is why I personally believe the government/lawmakers shouldn’t interfere with how newspapers are run.

That is why, when I see something in a newspaper that I find damaging and offensive, I don’t petition the government for regulation and control of the press. I don’t try to have this feature forcibly removed. Instead, I say to the paper in question ‘Here is why this is damaging’  in an attempt to persuade them to stop. Voluntarily.

What I’ve just described is the No More Page 3 campaign. I absolutely fail to see how supporting a campaign based on activism and persuasion amounts to smothering free speech. Perhaps David Dinsmore recognises that too, and is trying to harness the liberal desire a lot of us UK citizens have to protect our freedoms, to discredit the No More page 3 Campaign. But that can’t be right – David is just a passionately Liberal-minded man, committed to maintaining our collective freedoms. His publishing these naked women keeps our freedoms alive.

Ducking the truth

Thousands of people have spoken out in support of the No More Page 3 campaign. Some are teachers citing their professional opinion on the damage Page 3 causes in their classroom. Some are women like me who, as small girls in the 1980s, were bemused by the naked lady in the newspaper. Some are girls in schools today who find themselves crudely compared to the Page 3 girl, when a class exercise requires a newspaper. Yet more supporters are parents who don’t want their sons and daughters growing up with the warped idea that women exist to be pretty for men. In the face of all these professional and heartfelt private testimonies, you have to admire Dom for his steadfast commitment to the truth – his truth at least.

 

Page 3 is about celebrating beauty, it’s harmless, and any attempts to remove it stifle free speech.

My wish for 2014: a women’s magazine that isn’t utter rubbish

Have you ever gone into a newsagent or supermarket, looked at the women’s magazines on offer, and thought, “well, these all look like total tripe”, before decamping to the wine aisle in disappointment?

This has happened to me so often that I don’t even flick through them anymore. I simply don’t hold out much hope of decent content from the publication that poses the question “is tongue the new sideboob?” on its front page (that would be you, Grazia).

The problem with voicing these criticisms – especially to other women – is that it’s very difficult not to sound snooty and pretentious: “ Grazia, you say? I wouldn’t dream of reading such muck. I subscribe to Intelligent Life, and have you read the Madwoman in the Attic? It’s simply an excellent exploration of feminism in the 19th century”.

I really don’t want to be that idiot.

Nonetheless, I have to ask: where are the decent magazines? I don’t have a narrow or limited range of interests: I like music, fiction, theatre, current affairs, anything to do with life in Asia (I have a vicarious interest, until I can afford to travel more), and buying handbags/clothes. What I find odd about the majority of women’s ‘lifestyle’ magazines is that the last item on that list dominates.  I like shopping online for new clothes (in the same passive way I ‘like’ having a cup of coffee) –  but that doesn’t mean I want to read an entire 130-page magazine about it.

I’m not even starting on the parade of celebrities I don’t recognise, articles on celebrity’s children (privacy anyone?), or the unsolicited advice on bikini diets – the latter often confusingly juxtaposed beside exhortations to ‘embrace your curves’.

Clothing (as a topic in a women’s magazine) seems to be an expansive subject. What clothes are fashionable, what clothes are not, red carpet faux pas, who looks fat, whose booty looks good in what skirt, and then the inevitable ‘wardrobe malfunction’. Woe betide the hapless celebrity who has furtively left the house for a pint of milk and not dressed for the occasion. I find two things odd about these articles/features: a) that the person writing/commissioning them gives a crap and b) that they expect me to as well.  (For the record: the only time I’ll be interested in reading about a ‘wardrobe malfunction‘ will be if someone ever owns a rogue Winchester that springs to life,  does a dance, and spews forth dancing clothes, like the one in Disney’s Beauty and the Beast. I’ll read that article.)

The thing is, I don’t think I’m some weird aberration of the female human race. Presumably the majority of women have a wide range of interests, which are blithely ignored by magazine editors. A recent article in the Economist talked about India and how family roles are changing – with an insight into the figure of the formidable mother-in-law. The BBC did a great feature on a famous neo-Nazi in the UK who led a double life in the Soho gay scene.  Can’t we have something interesting this like sandwiched in among the discussions of sideboobs and Kate Middleton’s baby weight? I know the likes of Marie Claire purports to fill this void, but for me, it’s still too heavy on the clothes/accessories front. Not to mention style advice involving dresses that cost the same as my rent.

So that’s my wish for Christmas: to find a magazine to read in 2014 that reflects even a little more of my own interests. Any suggestions, let me know.

Grazia's December edition: tackling the big issues of 2013.
Grazia’s December edition: tackling the big issues of 2013.

On sports, sex and night-time makeup

I’ve written previously about how people I consider to be well-judging, normal humans dismiss feminism because they believe women have already achieved equality. I’ve been reflecting on this, looking at the news and my own life over the last week, and you know what? I’m open to changing my mind, so let’s re-visit that viewpoint.

Starting with sport. With Wimbledon just behind us, we can reflect with satisfaction on the fact that female tennis players now receive the same prize money as men. And how lovely to see the congratulations pouring in to this year’s female Singles Winner, Marion Bartoli. My personal favourite from the plethora of good wishes comes from the delightful @Willshow95: “Bartoli you fat shit. I don’t want a ugly bitch to win”.

Hmmm. OK, moving on. Golf! Yesterday I received an invitation to Muirfield, a club hosting the 2013 Open Championship. This is arguably the biggest professional golf tournament in the world, certainly the oldest. On opening the emailed invite, I felt pleasure mixed with alarm. I turned to my colleague (also invited) and asked “am I allowed to go to that, though? Is it not for men only?” This was a serious question – I’d read only a few days before that the Scottish First Minister, Alex Salmond, was boycotting Muirfield because it doesn’t let women in. It turns out, though, that although Muirfield does not allow women to join, it does deign to let them spectate. Go equality. A wee question for any men out there – have you ever received an invite to an official sports event, where your first thought is alarm that you’re excluded because of your gender? Not a trick question – I would actually like to know. (As a sidenote, who fancies storming the ramparts with me, á la Rosa Parks? Go to Muirfield, sit there, and refuse to leave until they let us join?)

Thou shall not pass, wench.
Thou shall not pass, wench.

So that was yesterday morning. At lunchtime, I gave Twitter a cursory glance as I ate in the sun. (There is actual SUN in Scotland at the moment. This is a rare event for us). Little did I know, a lunchtime revelation was in store for me! Makeup you can sleep in, so that your boyfriend doesn’t have to barf with shock at your ugly, unadorned face in the morning. Apparently, ‘mornings just got a lot prettier’. In the interests of equality, I’m wondering what this company is proposing to make my boyfriend more visually palatable to me in the morning? Here’s an idea – why don’t we just both wash our faces before we go to bed, wake up a little sleepy and have some sex. That’s my idea of a pretty morning.
Looking good at 7 am?
Looking good at 7 am?

Eyes on the prize: shagging for shelter
Night-time make-up wasn’t the only treat Twitter had in store for me, however. Cue lots and lots of coverage of the Tory-led Coalition’s new benefit cap: cutting housing benefit for teenage mothers. Apparently, UK society is being bled dry by these house-hungry teenage girls, who are having cold and calculating sex to win the ultimate prize: a council house. Now I remember being a teenager, and I remember having sex. The only thing on my mind was the fact I had a boyfriend I loved and fancied the pants off. Teenagers, as most people will accept, think about sex a lot. Not so the Coalition government. Not only is it making the mistake of thinking that teenagers have sex to obtain a house, but it is also putting the burden of any subsequent children on the teenage mother. Not the father. Now I don’t have any kids, but last time I checked it takes two people to make a baby. One reader commented in the Independent this morning that “instead of coming down so heavily on unmarried mothers, isn’t it about time the Government started to focus on young dads?” Or, instead of ‘coming down’ on anyone, how about acknowledging that the UK’s teen pregnancy rates are the lowest since records began?

So in a nutshell, here’s what I learned yesterday:
1. At a club hosting an international sporting tournament, women can watch golf but not play it
2. Looking pretty for your boyfriend at 7 am is not only desirable, but something you should spend money and time achieving
3. And lastly, teenage girls bear sole responsibility for having children, and should be punished accordingly.

Yay equality! Its work is clearly done.

Feminism, music, India, gin

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