The law of sexism

The law of sexism

The Investigatory Powers Bill has seamlessly glided through the Houses of Commons and Lords, with Royal Assent yet to be received. Cheers, Theresa May. I thought this alone was going to pose as an individual Wikipedia into each person’s search history and interests. But it seems as though Internet habits are becoming even more tighter.

Last week it was announced that UK porn legislation was changing. Well, retroactively.

The Digital Economy Bill purports to ban anything in pornography that wouldn’t be fit for a commercially available DVD, according to a ‘four-finger rule’ which sounds quite grotesquely counterintuitive.

So what is actually banned in terms of sex acts? Well, mainly the acts that we are FINALLY as a society becoming more inclusive and talkative about:

1) Female ejaculation

It’s perfectly ok for a male to ejaculate his semen here, there, and everywhere, but when a female wants to express her prowess and the intricate power of her body, it is illegal. I won’t even listen to that old age argument that traditionally, sex is to procreate and you need semen inside a woman for that result. You could take that ridiculous precedent and apply it to something equally as ludicrous as not showing people eating if they’re not hungry ffs.

2) Menstruation

Nearly more than once a day, I will see something menstruation-related on my newsfeed and I think it’s wonderful. I sometimes think that there is an overexposure of it on the Snapchat accounts, but then again, that’s not a detriment. To ban a natural process which is required in order for a woman to bear a child is abhorrent. Even if that woman has no intention on becoming pregnant, having a period is just as natural as sh*tting. I guess we will have to embrace the times when women used dirty rags as sanitary towels next, as another #throwback to outdated, sexist customs.

3) Violent penetration

Okay, there is a major difference between rough sex and sexual violence. I won’t go into the specifics, but what is meant to be suggested in place of penetration that isn’t somewhat ‘violent’? Flimsy, flaccid, fluttery penetration? No. The word penetration says it all.

There is however, a blatant part to this Bill which I wholly agree with, which is the banning of under-18s viewing pornography. I do think that young people (both males and females) are becoming over-sexualised. Under-18s should be educated in school about the benefits and dangers of porn, as well as what sex should be in a healthy relationship, and how to practise sex safely and consensually. There is always going to be a way to get around the law, including for minors to watch porn, but if they are to, they need to know how watching it can affect them and how to watch it in moderation.

Even a spokesperson from the Department for Media, Culture and Sport stated that the focus of this legislation is not to police the Internet, but to protect children with online safeguards. Hmm well I don’t know how learning that a woman can orgasm is going to be dangerous for anyone watching. Oh, wait, probably because a female orgasm will never have its place against a male one!

I do believe that the proposed Bill is entirely archaic and needs desperate attention and modifications should it come into law, especially to suit a progressive society. Though I can’t say anything particularly momentous has been achieved since May has become our undemocratic leader.

Swings and roundabouts.

Honey G: sickly sweet or plain sticky?

Honey G: sickly sweet or plain sticky?

Ahh, the rise and fall of Honey G. That is a retrospective spoiler alert, by the way, pointing out that the Marmite of X Factor was voted off the competition last night.

Personally I detested the aura about Honey G. If Honey G had been truly passionate for rap, she wouldn’t solely stick to ‘cheese rap’; that is the catchy, pop-esque side to the genre. Salt n Pepa’s ‘Push It’ may be a banger, but it isn’t difficult to rap, even for a middle aged white woman. Personally, I would have liked to see some Busta Rhymes ‘Look At Me Now’.

One day.

There is then of course, the whole discourse about whether Honey G is a genuine rapper. In my view, she’s found herself loathing her dead-end job and wants to try out something new. Maybe it’s a sign of a midlife crisis. Either way, everyone should be entitled to creep out of their comfort zone and try something which steps over socially constructed boundaries. Even if that does involve making a t*t out of yourself on national television.

There always seems to be an ‘entertaining’ contestant in X Factor though. Having a controversial contestant makes people watch the show out of agitation which boosts viewing rates, which in turn makes people vent and rant over social media – increasing their prominence on the web. It’s meticulously crafted PR.

I’m not implying that the X Factor is a fix, but there has to be an element to a broadcasted competition which eliminates all seriousness and integrity from time to time. Rather well-aligned, Ed Balls, the MP, was voted off Strictly Come Dancing. As a result, of course people like Wagner or Stavros Flatley will not win such shows. Their presence keeps up the viewers until it hits the near-end, like semi-final or quarter-final.

But hey, that’s my hypothesis.

I guess we should watch this space as to what Honey G will do next. I bet my next student loan that she will end up doing guest appearances at student unions across UK universities by this time next year, however.

 

 

 

12 Things of Christmas

12 Things of Christmas

‘Tis the season to pre-purchase the trusty Cadbury’s advent calendar and nag your housemates that it IS soon enough to get the Christmas decs out (or alternatively raid Wilkos for the requisites). Oh, and to turn Private Mode off when listening to the festive bangers on Spotify.

That’s right, Christmas is so damn soon. There are barely any days left of November. I haven’t even tried a pumpkin spice latte yet alone a frosted snowman mince pie cookie candle hot chocolate yet or whatever they call them this year.

But, I am always excited for Christmas. As a university student constantly being engulfed by the tsunami of assignments, particularly in the run up until term finishes, I anticipate the magic of Christmas just as much as a small child. That could just be because I am looking forward to all the homemade roasts requiring no graft by me, especially as I will never be able to nail crispy roast potatoes like my dad’s.

So, I thought I would crank down on the Christmas build up with my twelve things of the jolly season… And no, these aren’t necessarily my favourite or worst things. Just things.

1) Running to the window on Christmas morning and anticipating snow

Why this is something I’m always compelled to do is mystifying. I just long for a damn white Christmas I guess, ok?! Bing Crosby set the bar too bloody high and now the polar ice caps are melting, and even the polar bears won’t get a white Christmas unless they swim a half-marathon through the warming Arctic waters. At this rate, lads will be getting ‘Arctic 2k33’ tattooed on their ankles after booking a package holiday in the new party destination, with Sun, Sex and Suspicious Parents eagerly following them. At this rate I think I’ll only ever experience a white Christmas if I move to the moon.

2) Rating other people’s roasts

Whoever solely or mainly cooks the roast in the household, whatever trimmings are chosen, and whether you opt for turkey or equivalent, nothing will ever compare to the roast you eat. And God forbid why some think it’s a great idea to Snapchat or Instagram their roast. We get it! You have been fed by the lovely elves of Christmas! Fuck off, of course you’re eating a roast; you’re so unpredictable and a loose cannon. It’s even more revolting when the ‘flash’ setting is turned on the camera. Your sprouts look the Grinch’s testicles, whereas mine are perfect, petite green bundles of love.

3) Eating your advent calendar in one sitting

On too many occasions I have come in drunk from a night out and ripped open my advent calendar. To be fair, it was either some £1 chunks of chocolate or unleashing the food specifically reserved for Christmas, like the Guylian chocolates or cranberry Wensleydale. So damn tasty.

4) Faking happiness at the table

I shan’t elaborate on 2016’s detriment to us all. That is unless you’ve just come out of a year’s coma, then for all you know Harambe is well and Lennon finally achieved world peace. The most intense conversations with relatives always seem to happen round the dining table, it seems, whether that concerns relationships, racism, or riffraff. Because one of Santa’s elves dies every time you express your true, sour opinion during Christmas, you instead have to fake your satisfaction and zest for life. It’s hard to keep up, but do you really want to exhaust all your anger out on topical issues when really it could be over Monopoly?

5) Those particular people who just want January 1st to arrive to post their ‘New Year, New Me’ statuses

I can understand how the New Year is a time to rethink your goals and priorities in life, but if you were really set on improving something about you, you don’t need the excuse of your calendar saying ‘January 1st’. Maybe I’m being too cynical. Well in fact, yes I know I am. To put a positive spin on New Year’s Day, I will probably spend the day hungover in bed, scrolling through my newsfeed and deleting anybody who posts about changing themselves. Or I’ll make my resolution to be supportive of all the strangers I have as friends on Facebook. We’ll see how bad my hangover will be.

6) The uncertainty of Christmas presents

There was nothing I actually wanted for Christmas this year. Albeit money to fund my trip to New York in January. There are, however, a multitude of things that I don’t want for Christmas. I still don’t particularly want Brexit to be a thing, or how xenophobic a substantial proportion of the population have become. But how do I express these wishes on my Christmas list to Lapland? Maybe I’ll ask Santa to stop sh*tty people do even sh*ttier things, but then again, Santa is a very, very old man who may have different conceptions of equality and fairness to me.

7) So. Much. Alcohol.

Freud contended that the superego and id are in battle with one another; the great war between the pleasure principle and your conscience. Much can be said too about the cosy, ‘hygge’ side to you, and the sesh-fuelled part of you. As a child, I would wake up at 7:00am to watch various movies on TV, and to see whether Santa had arrived (Santa didn’t come until about 10:00am, which I realise now was due to my parents’ hangovers). But becoming a teenager I would have a lie-in and express apathy towards anything that even slightly resembled tinsel. But now, being 21, I seem to get rather jolly on the wine, beer and Bailey’s on Christmas Eve, which of course is the gassiest concoction there is. And parents just seem to go mad for the bottles at this time of year. So, it’d be rude not to help finish them. Come around 8:00am on Christmas morning, I am pretty buzzing for the day ahead like a kid again, but this may be because I’m still tipsy. Then BAM, 10:00am and I’m feliz navidead with my head in the toilet bowl. That doesn’t stop me from having a Bucks Fizz with brunch, however.

8) The cheese board

I genuinely would struggle living the life I do if I had a lactose intolerance. Milk is my life, which would also make being vegan particularly troublesome. Yet, I choose the lifestyle that embraces dairy goods, particularly cheese. And nothing says Christmas like a variety selection of cheese as well as Jacobs Crackers.

9) When prehistoric decorations emerge

Whether it’s already happened or you wait until Christmas Eve like some sort of Grinch, the annual decoration amnesty is bound to happen. You can even pretend to be Santa himself with his sack of presents as you come up from the cellar with binbags of questionable decorations, and maybe a plastic tree. In previous year, we had an aesthetic tree in the dining room, and a ‘dog’s dinner tree’ (as my mum named it) upstairs, which showcased all the Winnie the Pooh characters in Christmas outfits and all those random baubles we seem to have accumulated as presents from random family friends and relatives. I don’t know why this is a thing.

10) The post-roast stew

Is it even Christmas if you have a turkey that could quite literally Feed the World yet ends up feeding your family for consecutive nights? Whether it’s in bubble and squeak, a pie, a soup, or a traditional festive curry, it’s the least we can do for Band Aid.

11) Attempting to make your pets get involved with the festivities

If you have a pet, it’s imperative to force your Scrooge-like cat to wear reindeer antlers, or put a miniature Santa hat on your guinea pig. Then there’s dogs who will have probably already picked out their Christmas style this season, being the flamboyant beasts they are.

12) Finally, the TV

Nothing says Christmas like gathering the family around the fire with mulled wine and Christmas pudding to watch a festive-themed gameshow. Some households probably recite extracts from the Bible on the holy day which is clearly understandable. Yet, many of us worship alcohol and the media, being the greedy, 21st century b*stards we are.

As blasphemous as we may have become during the Christmas season, it will always be my favourite time of year.

 

Black Friday is even darker for students

Black Friday is even darker for students

As it goes every year, American folk rekindle with their families on the fourth Thursday of November for a meal to say ‘thanks’ for the blessing of the harvest i.e. eat twice their body weight in turkey with all the trimmings.

Following the occasion, shops thrust their consumerist junk at us with ‘special discounts’ despite that, with price reduction, their worth is still a lot less than the price-tag. ‘Black Friday’ as it is called, marks this day of anti-gratitude, anti-blessing, anti-Thanksgiving.

Apparently, the day exists as the first day of the Christmas shopping season. Can I just emphasise the word season, that there is still plenty of time for shoppers to dwell and lurk through bundles of clothes and shoes to fulfil their Christmas lists? Modern Christmas has lost its traditional roots and is solely a time to display the grandiose of capitalism, but with the occasional Mariah Carey tune to make things seem more festive and family-friendly.

As a student, you would assume receiving the tens to hundreds of emails come through from companies (who I am sure I never even subscribed to) who market their ‘black deals’ and ‘exciting reductions’ would make today actually feel like Christmas. You are so very wrong if you thought so.

A student’s financial situation is more corrupt and damaged than some of the current affairs you see on the news. While tuition fees are already at their highest, so are rent rates and basic necessities hit by inflation. My student loan doesn’t even cover my rent, I am permanently in the depths of my overdraft as a result, and I have applied for too many part-time jobs with too little responses i.e. zero. The idea of the maintenance loan is so that students also receive financial aid from parents or guardians. This is not always the case.

Personally, I believe the bankers and those in authority who control the budget presume ‘daddy’ will always bail out their child when in serious hardship.

Sorry pal, but we are not all middle class.

Not all of our parents work, if that’s to say we do have parents.

Throwing on top a series of marketing spew highlighting the perks of Black Friday doesn’t necessarily make a student feel more compelled to spend money. My priority isn’t to buy the latest brands because they’re on discount, but it is deciding whether I have enough money left to eat for the rest of term.

Of course, many students LOVE Black Friday, and perhaps they have been putting money aside so they can buy items today. And perhaps these items are Christmas presents for family, friends, or significant others. I can’t generalise my thoughts to every student.

What I can generalise though, is the ever-expanding disparity between the rich and the poor. There’s always going to be many, many people richer than I, but let’s at least make things fairer.

And let’s be grateful for what we do have. Okay, I may be a broke b*tch, but I am studying at university which not everyone has the opportunity to do, and I have a loving family who I don’t have to travel far to see. That is what we must remember not only during Thanksgiving, but during the festive season too.

Oh, and did all these companies really think I’d be abandoning the lull of the library during the busiest time of the year for assignments, just to buy something I don’t even need? Well, anything does distract me from doing work after all.

 

The persecution of women isn’t just about ‘everyday sexism’; it’s life or death

The persecution of women isn’t just about ‘everyday sexism’; it’s life or death

I am a relentless feminist, believing that both men and women should benefit from the same opportunities. In this sense, I think that both men and women should receive the same punishments too. I understand that traditionally, society is patriarchal and the belittling of women causes outrage because many generations of women have already been subject to this. But then again, because of such order, men still think they can get away with objectifying women for their own means and pleasure. I also believe that a woman should be able to feel powerful, which is akin to masculine energy, and that’s ok. But it is then somehow wrong for a man to feel effeminate and ‘frightened’ of strong-minded women.

Yet, sexism still occurs, and it is entrenched in laws across the world, even if you are merely a tourist, you still pay respect to the customs of the country you are visiting, and these laws will still affect you. Therefore, if you intend to smuggle drugs into Indonesia, I hope you appreciate that you will most likely receive the death penalty. But to have a law affect you from something out of your control isn’t just, especially when it concerns you being a woman who has been raped by two men.

A British woman reported that she had been raped while in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates. The female tourist could face a prison sentence for extramarital sex if the claim of rape isn’t proved.

Rape is not sex. Sex is a consensual activity. Rape is a form of violence. Just because your weapon is a penis doesn’t engender it any different to a gun or a bread knife.

Of course, there are people who make false allegations of rape. I sympathise with the falsely accused, as such an allegation has far-reaching consequences on all areas of their lives. But to make a false accusation in a country whose laws are notoriously indifferent towards women and sexuality seems outlandish. Only a traumatised, attacked woman would make such a claim if it were serious. Just eight years ago, Alicia Gali was jailed for eight months for having an unlawful sexual relationship, despite that she reported being drugged and raped by three co-workers. The medical proof of sexual activity doesn’t even seem to be required in order to make a judgement, after Roxanne Hillier was jailed for three months after being alone with a male employer with no sexual activity having taken place.

In the United Arab Emirates, for the man to be convicted of rape, the accused must actually confess or alternatively, four adult men testify as witnesses. The rigidity of the laws for female victims compared to that of a rapist is horrifying. I genuinely could not imagine living in such a backwards-thinking country; one where skyscrapers are abundant and brands are always modern, it doesn’t make sense for women to still be so persecuted.

I get incredibly passionate and angry about sexism in my own country, the UK, until I realise that being cat-called or groped is a small price to pay for men to believe they have control over a woman’s body. I have the advantage of taking such vulgar individuals to court, knowing that as the victimised claimant, I will be protected by the safety blanket of our judicial system.

NB: I realise that women can rape men. Men can also rape men, and women can rape other women too. I don’t actually know if sharia law prevents a woman from raping a man…would the rules completely reverse in this situation? Well, I assume so, anyway.

For an interesting article and comment feed on this sensitive subject, see here.

 

Come Outside, Mabel, and play on your gender-neutral bike

Come Outside, Mabel, and play on your gender-neutral bike

Children can be the nastiest people in society. You can understand why dictators are d*cks because they become power-hungry and take advantage of their control. But kids literally have no responsibility; they should be leading an insouciant life, free from woes like student finance, and whether they’ll afford to eat that week. Yet, kids are harsh bullies. They pick on other kids for the most immaterial reasons, like nose shape or that their clothes aren’t ‘in fashion’. Nelson from The Simpsons was a bully because of parental neglect: his dad had gone AWOL and his mum, well, was a whore.

I saw earlier this week that Russell Brand is considering to raise his child as gender-neutral. Now, Brand is one of those guys that utters a load of rubbish to then surrender last minute and cast a different opinion. Anyone recall him explaining his protest not to vote in the 2015 general election, then his swift departure to support Miliband at last minute? I agree with his views that democracy is achieved not from simply a ballot in a box, but this is what Brand succumbed to. A hypocrite, or someone with a baseless opinion? – take your pick.

But hey, this is not a political rant. I am just gravely concerned about the welfare of Mabel, the child with no gender.

Gender isn’t attributed to your sexual organs. Just because Mabel is biologically a girl, does not mean she has a female gender. Gender is simply a social construction. For instance, in feudal times, women would be enslaved to the men because masculinity is seen as more important. Why else would a younger prince have more chance of becoming king over his older princess sisters? Why else would Chinese parents throw out their female newborns during the One Child Policy like a disposable wrapper, instead in hope of a Little Emperor to pamper and smother?

Throughout my lifespan, I’ve already seen an immensity of positive, social change related to gender. The viral video of a girl complaining about how simply the colours of toys lead to gender stereotypes was a prime example.

GQ.jpg

But the issue runs deeper than for imposing social stigmas upon children. GQ, a traditional ‘man’s man’ magazine, not only showcases their men looking professional and businesslike in suits, but this contrasts horrifically with the exhibition of the women on the cover, emphasising their assets and bodies as if that is on par with a man in a suit. I’m all up for body empowerment. Kim Kardashian releasing her own nudes may have been attention-worthy, as she is a reality TV star, but such acts show a woman who is in control and comfortable with their bodies. But only allowing a woman to feature on the cover of a magazine if she flaunts some flesh is for a sales-basis, knowing it targets weak men who can’t resist a 2D bosom. Now that’s not empowering.

But, toy companies are becoming more open-minded to gender-neutral toys. Basically, these are regular toys but do not state ‘for girls/boys’ or coordinate their colour to the gender. Every toy should be gender-neutral, whether that be LEGO or Barbie. Companies market toy babies to girls, yet not to boys, which of course will lead a susceptible, impressionable child to believe that the role of care-giving is strictly for women, while the men prance about in their suits, earning the only income.

I agree that some products do need to become and remain gender-neutral. But, to allow your child to choose its own gender is questionable. As a baby or toddler who can’t yet communicate, how does the parent know what its child wants? Baby Mabel might start gurgling when a TV advert for a lawnmower appears but that doesn’t necessitate Mabel associating herself as male. This is because females can also like mowing the lawn and tending for their garden. What if Mabel, who is now 7 years old, moves to a new school but can’t decide which gendered toilets to use? A lot of places including universities, have introduced gender-neutral toilets which I think is great. I doubt this is a scheme which primary schools are likely to impose, however.

Gender is certainly on a sliding scale. Our society has become increasingly more accepting of gender fluid individuals, but as to whether this is merely a ‘fashionable’ statement due to the likes of Ruby Rose and Miley Cyrus may not be the best influence on a child who is confused about their identity.

Your identity is one thing you should always retain control over, and for it to be ascertained by another should not be acceptable. Brand’s bold move could be described as forward-thinking, whereas I simply think he is limiting Mabel in the sense that perhaps she is 99% female and in fact loves pink frilly dresses not because of influence from advertising, but because that’s the way she is. Mabel’s parental influence may not help when making friends. If gender boundaries still haven’t changed much in the next 10 years or so, Mabel may not receive the best response when claiming she’s ‘gender neutral’ as an excuse to play football with the boys as ‘girls aren’t allowed’.

Then again, your own child is your own experiment to some degree. Deciding how to punish your kid for eating all the sweets to deciding who they can’t hang out with. After all, once a parent claims they don’t like one of your friends, you better listen to that parent.

I am intrigued, however, out of all the names that Brand and his girlfriend could have given to their daughter, they chose Mabel. The same beloved Aunty Mabel who other 90’s kids may remember in her spotty aeroplane with her dog Pippin. To be fair, Mabel was a badass, strong, independent woman who didn’t need a man. I guess that’s some good inspiration to name your daughter who you don’t want to be sheathed by the limits of gender roles.

 

 

Buster: boxer by nature, bouncer by desire

Buster: boxer by nature, bouncer by desire

This morning, around the same time each year, John Lewis brought out their annual Christmas TV advert. It’s hard to top Monty the Penguin or the Man on the Moon, yet the marketing guys at JL tried to keep up with the cuteness overload with Buster the Dog. You can take a watch on their YouTube channel here.

Now, I can’t lie, the first clip where Buster is watching something creaking and bouncing I had to halt my filthy mind. Turns out Buster is just really into the standard activity of jumping on the bed. I don’t think this was a hobby I got into as a child. While my ceilings were substantially high, my bed just didn’t have that optimum bounce. As my mother says, a hard mattress is good for the back.

My grandad bought himself a telescope last year, becoming the real life Man on the Moon but he looks for stars instead of human life. What with all the popularity this year around those trampoline parks, maybe inserting the trampoline into an advert is a good ploy. Well, it means parents don’t have to take their kids down to the trampoline emporium every other week when there’s a perfectly good stand-alone one in the garden.

Well that is until all the animals of Farthing Wood have their turn on it. Times are tough, the economy is a drag, so we can’t expect pesky foxes and badgers to be paying up their share to use Bridget’s trampoline. They have to use it at night when Bridget is fast asleep.

Buster, being the loyal guard dog he is…well he doesn’t do much about these intruding animals on his land. He whimpers from the comfort of inside, watching longingly at these bouncing animals.

When it gets to Christmas Day morning, we see Bridget gasp with astonishment, knowing she never has to settle for her bed again when she feels like a good old jump. But Buster takes the opportunity to leap outside, gallivanting towards the trampoline like he’s just eaten a whole stocking’s worth of dog treats. And he indulges in a stolen bounce.

Now, I was a little disappointed when the advertisement didn’t end with Bridget and Buster jumping together, but with how sensitive the Internet is, there’d be all sorts of animal abuse accusations such as ‘what if she stepped on the dog’. More like what if the dog landed on Bridget, right? Anyway, I guess the slogan ‘gifts that everyone will love’ seems fair. I really hope Bridget is okay about sharing her Christmas present with her dog, as when I was that age, having to share even a crayon would cause me to implode into a tantrum.

I even saw what I hope to be a satirical article about how the advert is a connotation for the 2016 election, and Trump is Buster bouncing away on something we didn’t expect him to win while Clinton is watching on, knowing the prize should be hers. The more I think about it, the more entwined the election result and the advert seem. But it’s Christmas (yes it’s a third through November, it is) and we can’t keep aggravating every possible goodness and purity that enters our lives.

Meanwhile, the only tangible thing I’ve asked for this Christmas is some shoes. I swear down, if I see my cat wearing them on Christmas morning, I will be taking a lot of photos to make memes out of, rather than shun her for being such a Trump.