Wednesday, December 21, 2005

so being the season to be jolly.....

I'm going to have a little rant about it.

I have been party to at least 2 debates in the last couple of weeks about the "PC gone mad attitude that leads to Christmas being called winterfest".

One was a heated argument with some of our best friends. The other one I remember clearly was at an "Equality and Diversity" training in my employing NHS trust. I was on one side of the argument and many others were against.

Who decided that Christmas starts in October? I firmly believe that capitalism has stretched it out, simply for sales purposes.

This though means that culturally many people think that any event that takes place during this period must be a Christmas event. Therefore calling a Local Authority organised programme of event held during November and December a "Winterfest" rather than Christmas is offensive and implies that using the term "Christmas" is banned. Some people say they think Christmas itself is banned as they understand some politically correct community leaders think it upsets non-Christians.

Our friend's point was that he knows a Hindi woman who thinks like this and he agrees. He said she is happy to see people celebrate Christmas, especially as it's the British cultural standard and she is an "incomer". He said that "everyone" celebrates Christmas and it's not just a Christian thing.

My position is this -

I am happy for those who want to celebrate Christmas - be they Christian or not - to do so. I do.

I am also happy for us to have the opportunity to take part in organised events that are specifically Christmas events - like Carol Concerts and Christmas markets.

I never questioned that our majority culture in Britain is still based on the Christian tradition and our main festivals are too. I am however sure there is clear pagan relevance to Easter and Christmas-time though. And it's no coincidence that most religions and cultures have some sort of festival that makes use of light at the darkest time of the year is it?

Many people I know who practice religions other than Christianity join in with celebrating Christmas. I also know people who would definitely not celebrate Christmas, and would be upset if they were pressured into doing so.

I find it notable that some of the Christmas symbols and practices are nothing to do with Christianity- trees, snowmen, and others. It's relatively easy to appropriate them if Christmas, as it is to me, does not carry Christian meaning to you. By the way - Homer Simpson as an inflatable Santa decoration in people's gardens. What's that all about? All the other icons are without copyright - Homer is owned by Rupert Murdoch!!!

I am not happy that every other event and important festival that takes place during the months of November and December to have to take on the Christmas label by default.

I believe it is essential that we demonstrate to our fellow community members that we recognise there are alternatives and that other celebrations are equally valid and supported. When events are organised or promoted by the Local Authority - whose role it is to represent and support ALL citizens in their area - they must support all communities equally as long as the events are not breaking the law.

Diwali, Chunakah and depending on the moon phase Eid-ul-Fitr some years, amongst many others are religious festivals that happen at this time of year and need to be recognised and included. Calling a programme of events "Winterfest" makes sure that everyone is included.

I would never agree that a specific Christmas event had to change it's name. I have no evidence that anyone has ever been asked to change an Christmas events' name. Let me know if you do.

So - where do you sit on this issue?

In the meantime - season's greeting to you all!!!! Have a good Christmas, if it's your thing. I intend to.......

Sunday, December 11, 2005

murder at your partners hands

happens to about 2 women a week.

The Guardian magazine (which I don't like very much) occassionally has decent articles. This week it lists all the people (mostly women) killed by ex or current partners with photos of the majority. It's a moving record of a desperately common crime. It poses lots of (fairly obvious) questions, and overall manages to raise the profile of a silent, largely unreported issue in the mainstream media.

Katherine Viner writes -

"men's power over women is at the heart of this depressing story. Very often women are killed when they challenge that power, by trying to separate from their partners, or seeing someone else, or doing something that their partner doesn't want them to do. Perhaps we should not be surprised by the fact that two men a week kill their partners, when courts say that women can consent to sex while almost unconscious, when rape itself has a conviction rate of 5.3%, when twice as many men now visit prostitutes than a decade ago. Britain is not getting any safer for women, however many get to be CEOs.

Violence against women is mainstream - the British Crime Survey from 2004 shows that an astonishing 50% of all adult women have experienced domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking. (It was only in 1981 that it was made illegal for a man to rape his wife.) And we use euphemisms about domestic violence against women such as "a row that got out of hand" and "a volatile relationship", which make abusive relationships sound equal, just a bit of sparring. Press reports say, "Police are treating it as a domestic incident", as if that makes it a lesser crime....

And the late George Best, lamented as a flawed hero in reams of tear-stained articles last month, said in support of fellow woman-beating footballer Paul Gascoigne, "I think we all give the wife a smack once in a while." He certainly did so himself.

So how much is our society colluding with this? When we lionise abusers, feel sorry for those who kill women who nag, and sentence men who've killed their lovers to paltry terms in jail, you have to ask: are so many women killed by their partners because society lets men get away with it?"

I was unaware of George Best's violent history - I had no interest in his life. It only came to my notice hearing Polly Toynbee amongst others talking about why people like George become sanctified in death. She commented that she is uncomfortable about the celebration of him as a genius and role model when he was a wife-beater. I welcome this article as a reminder that we are colluding with violence by treating people like Best as heroes, and generally forgetting to report crimes like these with the respect they deserve.

a conservative royal?

According to the online "What kind of princess are you? " quiz I am :

The Traditional Princess

You are generous, graceful, and practical with both
feet planted firmly on the ground. You tend to
be a little on the old-fashioned side. You
value home, hearth, and family life and love to
be of service to others.

Role Models: Snow White, Maid Marian

You are most likely to: Discover a hidden talent
for spinning straw into gold.

This suprises me a bit as I don't consider myself traditional. Having said that I hate the idea of being any sort of "Princess" - I have never pretended to be one - my childhood games were playing teacher or lover, or just acting/ singing/ dancing about. So bearing that in mind and considering the answers I gave - like my choice to dig the garden if the King and Queen left me alone for the day - I guess it's the best I could do to bring some realism to the role!!!

What Kind of Princess are You? - Beautiful Artwork (Original Music is BACK!!!)
brought to you by Quizilla

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

go on then, have a guess.....

who's house is who's.... on Clare Sudbery's Through the Keyhole challenge.

There are 13 bloggers taking part including me.

Mike from Troubled Diva. He has TWO houses, and a Princess Diana Memorial Garden.

Gordon from Gordon McLean. He lives in Scotland, and is good at computers and stuff.

Pen from A Typical Pen. She's into flowers.

Ruth from Meanwhile Here In France. She's a musician who lives in the French countryside, with her painter husband.

Zinnia from Real E Fun, who directs funerals at a mystery location.

Rob from Eine Kleine Nichtmusik, who also lives in Scotland, and is a musician in his spare time.

Vitriolica from Unkempt Women, who lives, and indeed draws/paints, in Portugal with two small children and a professor.

Zoe from My Boyfriend is a Twat. She lives in Belgium. With newts. And a twat.

Clair from Life in Reverse, who takes lots of great photos and does things backward.

Clare from Boob Pencil, who has a thing about breasts.

Lisa from Rullsenberg Rules, who gobbles up all aspects of culture and lives with a cloud.

Joe from Joe in and around Las Vegas, who lives in Las Vegas. Oh no, was that a secret? Sorry.

We have each provided some pictures and all you have to do is say which pics belong to which blogger. Please submit your answers in the comments box for the post on Clare's site.

I am trying and I haven't got much of clue!

what's on when?

To find out about important dates linked to human rights, campaigns and international political meetings see the Oxfam calendar.

Monday, November 21, 2005

rape crisis....

Fuckin 'ell, I can hardly believe it - "1 in 3 people believes that women who behave flirtatiously are at least partially responsible" according to the Amnesty International report published today.

This cannot be true as Rape is not sex - it is violence and it's about power, not attraction.

I have been reading a lot about rape and people's attitudes on various blogs over the last couple of days. I did think that I would leave other people to shout about this one, as there are so many issues I can't cover them all. But this is not something I can ignore and not post about.

David Fickling in the Guardian says -
"Police recorded nearly 13,000 rapes last year, a figure thought to amount to only 15% of the true total since most rapes are never reported. The conviction rate for rape is 5.6% - the lowest ever recorded, with 741 cases resulting in conviction last year.
A study in 2002 found that one in 20 reports of rape led to conviction, compared to one in three in 1977. "There's pretty much a rape crisis in this country," said Amnesty spokesman Neil Durkin."

What is going on - why was it SO much easier to get a conviction nearly 30 years ago!!!!

The campaign to Stop Violence Against Women has to be worth signing up to. Make sure you challenge any myths.

For a full discussion on some of these issues see a great post and comments on this site - Feministe and if you follow the links one of them leads here - Alley which sadly backs up the report referred to earlier.

Friday, November 18, 2005

nearly naked women

Last weekend I was sitting in the car waiting for T to pay for petrol and I noticed the newspaper stand outside the petrol station shop.

All the papers were covered except one - I think it was the Daily Sport, which was the one nearest the shop door.

That paper had a full page photo on the front cover of a woman in very skimpy underwear taken from below so that it was mainly of her nearly naked arse.

As I had noticed it from the car it was obvious that anyone walking past it to the shop would have to see it. Three men walked into the shop and they stared at the picture on their way in so their heads were turned towards the paperstand whilst they walked.

I found myself feeling angry. I have become immune to the domination of these sorts of images of women in the mass media of late. I was shocked by how blatant, what was clearly a porn shot, was.

I am not anti-porn.
I am not happy about a society which makes women's bodies objects used to make people spend money. I am not happy that it is only pictures of women that we see like this. I am not happy that the message that women are to look at and be titilated by is peddled everywhere with no limits. What does it teach boys and girls as they a growing up to walk past pictures like that wherever they go?

I thought about the use of images of "beautiful" women to advertise to men and to women alike. The same day as I noticed the newspaper, I also noticed a huge billboard in Manchester with a glamourous young (clothed) blonde woman dominating it - to advertise the newly refurbished and renamed store House of Fraser. The ad was definitely aimed at women. But change the words and add a car in the background and it could have been aimed at men.

So - men are told - buy this and you could have a woman like this. Women are told - buy this/ shop here and you could look like this. The message is the same - women need to be young (or look young) and beautiful to be attractive to men. Both men and women need to spend lots of money to get what they aspire to - women aspire to looks, men to having a woman with looks on their arm.

T found this Kira Cochrane article which really relates well to how I feel.

What a weird frightening world we live in...........

through the bloghole

Clare Sudbery is doing a fun thing next Tuesday - she is going to publish lots of photos that bloggers have sent in of the inside of their homes and you have to guess who's house is who's.
I have sent her 2, so take a look next week. She came up with idea a couple of weeks ago and asked me to take part..... what a privilege!!!!!!

froomin'... at last

Well thanks to the wonderful Tim, I now have a password that works and allowed my to publish froom again......just need to get people interested in sending in contributions!

Saturday, November 12, 2005

women who inspire us....

this is the first topic that froom have chosen. we have started a discussion on froom talk about it.....

I want to add to the site but find that I can't publish it yet.

I want to add that Fawcett are asking us to vote for the UK's most inspiring woman until 21st November.

So - what do you think?

I would go for Germaine Greer, but although she lives and works in the UK, she is Australian.

I am inclined to choose Alison Lapper, for reasons which my earlier posts will make clear.

I am also thinking about the late Mo Mowlam.

But I am not sure about the whole idea of choosing one woman at all.... it smacks of competition and I am inspired by many women, not least my friends and family, blogger-friends included.

Monday, November 07, 2005


I am very aware of not posting for a while.

I hope I will be able to do more from now on - I am now officially a part-timer - I now work 4 days a week. I plan to use my non-work day to do some blogging and also to get froom going properly. I have done some updates to froom today but can't publish as I have lost my password!!! It's so long since I touched it......

I also hope to put some time into helping to set up subtext - a new feminist magazine due to launch in January with a full publication in Spring 06. Find out more at the website.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

20 random facts about me...

thanks to tp for tagging me....

20 random facts about me

1. This is the first time I have been tagged and I am so excited. I was hoping someone would tag me soon.

2. I started to play the piano accordion earlier this year.

3. I love Yes Minister!

4. I have an obsession/ compulsion about the order in which mugs are stacked in the cupboard.

5. My favourite flower used to be the iris. Now I’m not sure. Maybe Japanese anemone. Maybe aquilegia (columbine). Maybe neither.

6. I was a HUGE fan of Michael Crawford as a teenager as part of my all consuming love of musical theatre. (blush)

7. I have two cats.

8. My first cat was named Oliver and I used to call him “you silly old scallywag pussycat”.

9. I have a dilemma about my hair. I have it being bleached and it costs £50 a time to have it bleached again. It’s a lot of money. It seems excessive to spend that on my looks.

10. I am an atheist.

11. I failed my O level maths twice and finally passed CSE when I was doing my A levels.

12. I love singing but I don’t think anyone will want to hear me sing.

13. I trained as a primary school teacher.

14. My favourite colour is purple.

15. I have 4 step siblings.

16. Two of them are named Judith.

17. I was brought up as a Methodist.

18. My other blog is atypicalpen

19. I hate knowing that the world is unfair and there is very little I can do about it. It's one of the main things that makes me depressed.

20. I am a quarter Welsh.

I now tag Winter Woods, BirdyChirp, Twisty Faster, Anna and Simon.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

towel and tampon tax

Did you know that the tax on blood catchers was reduced from 17.5 to 5% from Jan 2001?

I missed that one, and I wonder if it was because Gordon Brown wimped out on something that is a significant shift in economic policy for over half the population of the country he holds the purse strings for. And that means it's our fucking money!!!!

Lucy Ward and Dave Hill in the Guardian had two very different persectives on this one - wonder why? Dave Hill makes some great excuses for Gordon - check them out!!!!!
Apparently Gordon's excuse was he wanted to let the female MPs claim credit - well if they did I did not hear them loud enough.........

What made me look this up, after thinking about it for a few months now - was reading My Vag latest post - Sarah says " Oh, I go through such phases with this blog. Even after publishing 500+ pages on the finer details of my vagina, I have trouble figuring out what kind of vaginal news is worth reading every day. Who needs to read about vaginas every day? I myself, devoted disciple of vaginal scholarship, have no desire to keep up with the day to day developments in tampon politics or whatever." So I thought - well I'm sure there must be some news that is worth writing about.

I know this is old news, but it's new to me.....

Thursday, October 13, 2005

UN leader speaks out for women's rights.....

Ms Obaid director of the UN annual population fund says -
"It is time to call for action to free women of the discrimination, violence and poor health that they face in their daily lives.
"And I can assure you that women all over the world are tired of promises, promises, promises. The time has come; we have the means, we have the commitment. Now we need action."

Only an end to gender inequality will end poverty according to the UN in the Guardian today.

How bloody refreshing!

One of the Millennium Development Goals is to promote gender equality and empower women. It is central to the achievement of all 8 goals.

I picked up a book of wonderful photos illustrating the MDGs at an exhibition by PANOS at Oxo wharf in London when I went to see the Frida Kahlo exhibition - they are on the web here.

My wonderful friend Claire lent me her copy of the Rough Guide to making the world a better place. I am going to use it to create a list of things I can do when I feel the urge to take action on an issue that has really got my goat.....and I will also pick up some ideas from the Millennim Campaign.
When I've created my list it will appear on this blog......

Sorry for the lull in posting - was away last week and been back to work this work and very busy.... but got lots of stuff to say and hope to catch up this weekend!

Friday, September 30, 2005

work life balance on way to being restored....

I am feeling the benefit of -
a) being off work again for a week
b) going to T'ai Chi once a week (been twice so far)
c) doing some Molly dancing (a style of Morris dancing) and accordion playing once a week (been three times now) with Black Dog Molly
d) eating dark chocolate covered ricecakes (what I am addicted to and had run out of and now have 2 wholesale boxes of )
e) having some long lie-ins
f) knowing that we are off to Cornwall soon...
g) knowing that my manager is ok about me putting in an application to go down to 4 days a week - she thinks we can make it happen and is willing to discuss how....

I think my ideal would be working a 3 day week with time to do more unpaid work getting froom up and running and helping support the development of Write-on. I could also use the time to perhaps do some sessional University teaching on regeneration/ community development/ social studies/ advice work/ counselling eventually, if I could get some hours.

I am a late bird, not an early one - and as a result am seen as lazy and a misfit. Why is the standard working day 9-5? Most people seem to prefer either 8-4 or maybe even 7-3, or a minority of us who prefer 10-6, 11-7 or even 12-8. I really need a job that is based around a working day that runs from 11am to 7pm - those are my natural peak hours.

But going down to 4 days will be a good start and should help me build up my energy levels and resilience.

My doctor told me that the dizziness I've been getting is probably not a balance/ inner ear problem. It could have been a virus thingy. It also could be a side effect of the St John's Wort. So, as I am no longer depressed I have stopped taking it and will wait and see how I feel.
I am not going to know if the dizziness was related to it if I am not dizzy again. But if I am dizzy again I will know it was not due to the medication. A bit of detective work will be needed to see what the cause is. I will probably assume it's fatigue/ stress.

The 4 day a week thing is an interesting one......
it feels like such a luxury. I am so lucky that I can afford it.

I also have struggled to get my head sorted about being a part-time worker - I had always imagined myself working full-time and climbing up the career ladder. I have now realised that I have a choice and life isn't all about career. I need to feel like I am influencing decisions that affect the bigger picture - the way services are delivered, the priorities that are set in public service, the tackling of the causes of inequalities and prevention/ reduction of them. I assumed this meant I had to be managing big budgets or lots of people or writing high level strategies.
I actually don't like do those things and have started to feel like my contribution to those things will not effect the sort of changes I want to see. I have come full circle back to the belief that is it grassroots social action that can make the biggest impact.

T and I were talking about this yesterday (again - it's a common topic in our home) and we are of the view that due to the lack of clear political principles all that government departments can do is "manage" - and that means create change to structures and systems and move people around a bit. The work that gets done is always the same. The effect on the people who are served by the services (local govt and nhs) is at best no change, at worst severe disruption to services during the upheaval and changes in personnel with reduction in trust.

For example - the cycle that the library service has gone through in the last 10 years is 5 changes of deparment each costing thousands in public money to re-brand, re-structure re-organise internally, with less to spend on changing the outfacing service.

The nhs has gone from a Family Health Service Authority monitoring the work of independent GPs, to a Health Authority, then with fund holding powers passed to GPs as individuals and groups. After that GPs formed Primary Care Groups, and then became Trusts if they were big enough. Those Trusts were told they were too small and some had to merge and the Health Authorities role shrank and so they also merged to cover larger regions. Now there is a another round of mergers and GPs will have to engage in practice based commissioning of care and services from next September. What goes around comes around.

The amount of time and money that is spent on this could be spent on managing stasis instead of managing change - and that would allow organisations to put efforts into building long-term meaningful relationships with their communities and "customers". But then the election campaigns would have nothing to put in their manifestos about changes to public services..... or is that just too cynical????

Also - back to the part-time working thing...... I have doubts about justifying it when again I am lucky enough to have a job that is not putting life and limb at risk every day. Nor is it illegal - unlike the work that some people are forced to do - having read this Guardian article about women trafficked into the sex trade, I almost cannot imagine a worse way to be made to earn money. Women and girls as young as 10 are encouraged to come to Western Europe to make money and once here are raped until they become submissive and then forced to work as prostitutes and pay their "debt" - the "cost" of bringing them to the country - back to their "owner".

As Bianca Jagger writes -
"On one level, the UK government recognises the problem. A few years ago, Home Office research estimated that 1,420 women were trafficked into the UK in 1998 in order to be forcibly prostituted. The expert consensus is that the scale has significantly increased since then. There are now certainly thousands of women and girls trapped in a horror-filled existence. Desperately poor women and girls are typically stripped of their passports and other documents by their new "employers", and taken to secure flats and beaten and raped by their "owners" to "break them in". After that, it's a soul-destroying treadmill of dehumanising servitude, providing sex for 20 to 30 men a day, according to the Metropolitan police.

Scared and abused... many lacking a good command of the language, and told by their traffickers that what they are doing is illegal and could lead to imprisonment, they are truly caught in a web. Even if they escape the imprisonment of their owners, the route home is often barred anyway, as traffickers will threaten to expose them to shame there or even threaten their lives or the lives of their families. Britain needs to stop treating women forced into prostitution as criminals. They are automatically criminalised.
In May, a new European treaty established fresh guidelines for this. The European Convention Against Trafficking, the world's first international law specifically for protecting trafficked people's rights, puts victims first. Organisations such as Amnesty International are backing the convention and calling on the UK to sign up to it, but the government is stalling. Why, when Home Office minister Paul Goggins has said that the government "fully supports" the aims of the convention? Could it be that the government is afraid of criticism from anti-immigration lobbyists that the convention extends rights to women and girls who could fabricate a story of sexual slavery to gain access to the country? You could be forgiven for thinking that protecting some of the world's most terrorised and vulnerable people ought to cancel out these peripheral concerns."

Thursday, September 29, 2005

suits you sir!

but it doesn't though - does it?

I went on a shopping outing with T the other day, T fancied getting a suit (which would be his second one). He looks quite good in the one he's got, which he wears about one day a month on average. He only ever wears collarless shirts - which are very hard to find - and it's a fairly casual style.

We went to M&S and the choice (and this is totally serious) was grey, dark grey, dark blue and grey, dark blue, black, grey and black. There was nothing brown, green or light coloured. And the one he tried on made him look like an unhappy accountant/ wedding photographer. The patent leather pointy shoes that the man at the changing room gave him to wear to test the length of the trousers did not help.

It well and truly put him off the idea. Me too.

I had a little internet search after and found that Next do linen and gaberdine suits and Boden to "moleskin" (which sounds cruel to me!). They are a bit more casual.

Anyway - the point is - why wear one at all - it's so macho. He feels like it is essential on the odd occasion. One thing that is clear is it is a uniform. It is notable that women do not have the same restrictions in most workplaces. Some women wear I work wear a suit (usually bright colours or at least with a bright blouse). Others wear all sorts of tops and they have a choice of skirts and trousers. There obviously are subtleties that men can "read" from the suit-wearing, but it's so limited.

I wondered if this is because men are not meant to be attractive at work, but women are. That is Naomi Klein's view - see the Beauty Myth post. It also seems to be that men are not taken seriously unless they conform utterly. (Women are never taken seriously no matter what we wear).

We talked about how some men wear suits to go out at night - T used to have a suit as a youngster that he bought so he could get into nightclubs. Again the same issue arises - men are the ones who have to follow the "shirt and tie, no trainers, no jeans" rules - for women it's literally anything goes! We think that is because women are on display and the more women nightclubs attract in, the more men will also pay to go in.

All this reminded me of what I thought when I saw the press call on the first day of the UN general assembly when all 60 members were photographed together. Obviously there were very few women, but noticeably there was a lot less "traditional/ ethnic/ national" dress than there used to be - almost all the people were wearing western tailored suits in dark greys.

President of the Phillipines Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo's red suit is noted on the Phillipines government website. She is the first President of the Phillipines, the first Asian head of state, and the first woman leader to preside over the UN Security Council Summit - the webpage says this about 10 ten times. I guess it's good. Shame about the suit though even if it is red. I'm not sure what I think about women getting into positions of power - it means we are taking part - but it does not change the fact that what we are taking part in is the patriarchy....

Anyway - back to the suits. The suits we know and love are culturally specific and seem much more dowdy than the formal wear of other countries - although I don't know enough about it to know whether for example an Ghanian lawyer or an Bangladeshi hyper-capitalist company director would be expected to wear grey rather than, say red....

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

exciting plans

The wonderful Travelling Punk is starting a new women's magazine as an alternative to all the mass media pulp glossy's out there....

I am going to see what I can do to help.... it's too good to miss. Anything has got to be better than the oppressive trash that's currently peddled! But I hope this will be more than just better.... it has the potential to be essential reading for any feminist in the UK.

Does anyone remember "Everywoman"? I used to read it and it was so refreshing. It stopped in the early/ mid 90's I think.

Anyway, why don't you take a read of what TP has to say and if you are interested - join us!

free association 4

  1. Crave:: dark choc rice cakes
  2. Whole package:: dark choc rice cakes
  3. Roommates:: smell
  4. 5:30:: Newsround
  5. Lesbian:: love
  6. Poignant:: robin song
  7. Hurtful:: words
  8. You and I:: together
  9. Grateful:: hug
  10. Giggle:: friends

    Monday, September 26, 2005

    a hairshirt

    It's a bit worrying.... perhaps I should take note..... even though it's meant to be lighthearted.....and it's exaggerated......

    apparently I am a -


    Excuse us, could you just put down that hammer for a minute and listen. You’re so busy getting things done you rarely take any time out just to relax. In fact, you’ve probably forgotten how to relax. That’s because you’re so anxious to prove that it’s possible to lead a good and moral life without religion that you have built a strict and forbidding creed all of your own.

    You keep a compost heap, cycle to the bottle bank, invest in ethical schemes only and the list of countries you won’t buy from is longer than the washing line for your baby’s towelling nappies. You admire uncompromising self–sacrificers like Aung San Suu Kyi and Che Guevara, and would have liked the chance to be incarcerated for your principles like Diderot or Nelson Mandela.

    You would never cheat on your partner, drink and drive, accept bribes or touch drugs. You never waste money though you give lots to charity. Living a good life? You’re a model to us all. But it wouldn’t hurt you to try a little happiness once in a while. Loosen up.

    What kind of humanist are you? Click here to find out.

    Thursday, September 22, 2005


    I like memes

    free association seems pointless

    and so does this one - Oneword

    but I like them both....

    ...find more memes here

    free association 3

    1. Less filling:: pie
    2. Glue:: sticky
    3. Surprise me:: flowers
    4. Model:: anorexia
    5. Fee:: waive
    6. Microphone:: testing
    7. Choices:: voices
    8. To the bone:: cut
    9. Run!:: home
    10. Appeal:: TV

    cultural creative

    is apparently what I am - according to the quiz asking "What is your world view?"
    I actually did not understand some of the statements I had to respond to... but here is my score anyway.

    You scored as Cultural Creative. Cultural Creatives are probably the newest group to enter this realm. You are a modern thinker who tends to shy away from organized religion but still feels as if there is something greater than ourselves. You are very spiritual, even if you are not religious. Life has a meaning outside of the rational.

    Cultural Creative
















    What is Your World View? (updated)
    created with

    I answered yes too all the questions on the US website Cultural Creatives questionnaire.

    That worried me as I don't like to think I completely conform to something I've never heard of before! I serached for a UK link and found Ethical Matters description......and when I found it - I read this -

    "right now you are quite likely sighing 'oh, no not another bloody stereotype' this may be because cultural creatives hate to be put in to boxes. While wanting to refrain from doing this there are some fascinating facts that we feel duty bound to tell you about."

    We disagree with some of what Mr. Ray is saying as we find people with the interests proported to be of cultural creatives are often politically active - this political with the small p - concerned with their community, with environmental destruction, with globalisation - what cultural creatives are not are new age hippies. Although they cannot be discerned from any particular demographic group - Cultural Creatives come from all walks of life from accountants to acupuncturists, supermarket buyers to computer consultants and lawyers and doctors to midwives and gardeners - the overriding factor is that they tend to be involved in, or care intensely, about environmentalism, globalisation, peace, social justice, holistic health, civil rights and new spirituality. Many cultural creatives have dabbled in or are committed to self-development and growth; many would like nothing else but to leave the rat race to lead a more sustainable life. While they may not be lucky enough to do this they want to make difference in what they do right now.

    Cultural Creatives are:
    Interested in Ecological Sustainability Concerned with global ecology
    Concerned with Women's Issues
    Interested in or use alternative health care
    Have a social conscience Are interested in a spiritual dimension
    Are often information junkies - prefer print and radio to television
    Ethical and careful consumers making value based purchases.

    Obviously these are sweeping generalisations, however what distinguishes us nice Cultural Creative types are the following values and tendencies. Cultural Creatives want to invest ethically, they work hard to make their lives less dependent on unsustainable and unethical systems - to simplify their lives. They are often unhappy with the party political systems seeing flaws in both the left and the right while being politically active. Surprisingly, given their informed worldview they are often optimistic about the future while distrustful of the media. They often have finances and spending under control and are not concerned about overspending, disdaining advertising and can be fanatical recyclers. They tend to eat organic foods and use alternative medicine. Ultimately Cultural Creatives want to be involved in creating a new and better way of life for themselves, their dear ones and the world and at the same time work on self knowledge and increasing wisdom. "

    So that's me labelled well and truly.....

    I like the sound of it anyway so that's a good start!

    I wonder how I got the 25% fundamentalist score - scary!!

    Wednesday, September 21, 2005

    identity and conformism

    I have read in the grauniad that a government advisor thinks that mental distress is more of a social problem than poverty or unemployment - seems odd he doesn't link them together! And of course it's a problem when the inequalities are so great. And when the prejudice against mental illness is so dramatic. We are taught to fear it and that means we behave in ways that inhibit our self-expression. We conform. And that makes us ill. We are all mad, it's when we keep our personality constrained and our distress withheld that we get ill. Seems so obvious to me.

    My identity is something I have been thinking about a lot in recent days - especially since seeing Frida Kahlo's work and the sculpture of Alison Lapper. It seems necessary to keep myself safe, that I have at least 2 main identities. One at work and one at home/ with friends. There are many things I would like to say and do at work that I believe would alienate me from the organisation and most (not all) of my colleagues. Not least I feel compelled to pretend I am well when I am not.

    I realised yesterday that I need to find a job that matches my values more closely. I feel very constrained in the workplace currently. Mostly that is due to organisational culture. So - I'm looking for work in the voluntary sector again I think - to do with rights, inclusion, anti-poverty, anti-discrimination....... let me know if you see anything......

    little compulsions

    Following on from the wonderful telling us all about her cute weird behaviour and worrying about people thinking she is scary - here are my little compulsions....

    toilet rolls must be hung so the loose end is at the front - I sometimes change other people's round...

    MUGS - interested that so many other people worry about mugs and glasses and plates and bowls and cutlery too - as soon as I open the cupboard door and discover someone else has put the clean crocks away WRONG I have to sort them out so they are RIGHT (i.e. put away my way).

    Dishwasher or sink - wherever the dirty things are they have to be stacked properly - in the dishwasher this is about fitting the maximum number of items in. And yes they have to be washed in the right order if washed by hand - cleanest things (i.e. glasses) first, dirtiest things (i.e. pans) last.

    I always leave my desk at work very neat and tidy at the end of the day/ if I go out. This means things in neat piles according to what day is needs to be done on - filed in trays, nothing on the main desk apart from PC, keyboard, mouse mat, drinks mat, phone message book, phone, pen tidy, notepaper and stapler.

    I had my own room at home - a condition of moving in together - but it is now a shared room - but still when I go in there things have to be just so.....

    CDs/DVDs must be in the case they came with!!! Preferably in genre order all those by the same artist together. CDs were filed in genre and then alpabetically within genre but most are now just A-Z as the genres are blurry. Folk is still all in it's own little corner - British A-Z and US A-Z.

    Books - A-Z of course if fiction. Or by genre....

    Chairs must be tucked under the dining table when not in use.

    Table mats must be stacked - in the right order - when not in use.

    Coathangers must all face the same way when the clothes are hung up. Spare coathangers should sorted into separate bags according to category (and metal hangers- the horrible bendy wiry smelly ones should be in hell where they belong!).

    Window key has to be in the front right hand corner of the windowsill so I know where it is when I want it.

    I have to have a dessert spoon to eat my yoghurt/ pudding with. T has to have a teaspoon...weird.

    Keys are kept in the drawer not on the side - how many times do I have to tell you!

    and finally for now - I am always very disturbed by having unpaired socks - I have been known to search the house over and over to find the missing sock and some socks are still missing and I miss them a lot and will celebrate should they ever return........

    Just to note - as a child my mother used to say I had St Vita's dance as I used to have to take an even number of steps if I walked anywhere which led to me doing a little extra step on the spot a lot. Don't do that anymore.

    I am certain that we all have things we do. We just pretend we don't.

    Sunday, September 18, 2005

    stunning art

    Frida Kahlo was mind-boggling - there were so many pictures and so much information about them - almost too much to take in and I am knackered. I had no trouble relating to the pictures - they were so vibrant. Some were very small and it was very busy so getting close enough was difficult sometimes.

    She painted a lot of still lives and portraits of other people - one in particular that interested me was of a horticulturalist like a tree growing out of a decaying corpse. The many themes expressing duality were expressed in most of her paintings - life and death, dark and light, sun and moon. Fertility was significant for her too and paintings explicity depicting her miscarriage are moving in their honesty.

    There were many books and postcards on offer in the Tate Modern shop - some were of incredibly beautiful photographic portraits of Frida brilliantly executed. Self-portraits in paint and photos by others were very important to Frida. I talked a lot with the friend I went with about identity and how we present ourselves to the world compared to how we wish to be seen and how others see us.
    After visting the Kahlo exhibition we went to see the wonderful sculpture of Alison Lapper pregnant, on the fourth plinth in Trafalgar Square. It was stunning and contrasted wonderfully well with the phallic Nelson's Column. The three "great men" would be nothing without their mothers after all.

    Alison has written an autobiography part of which was in the Observer a few weeks ago - it is very disturbing. I also find it distrubing that Alison struggles to sell her own work as an artist - she was interviewed on TV in relation to the fourth plinth statue. Marc Quinn who designed the sculpture is famous and earning large amounts from his art - which includes Alison as one of his subjects. Alison's work was described as disgusting /ugly, as was her sculpture of her by Brian Sewell amongst others.

    Yesterday I read an Independent article by Deborah Orr on the train on my way back from London. She challenges us to celebrate giving birth to children with impairments as we celebrate the sculpture's beauty.

    So how do we judge beauty then? Does it have to be classical (as the statue clearly is - it's like the Venus de Milo)? How do we get ourselves to see difference as beautiful? Self-portraits were used by Frida and are also used by Alison to explore their own ideas of beauty and identity - and these can be shared by us - they certainly made me thing about my own views of myself and how I see others.

    Friday, September 16, 2005

    so many things to post about.....

    and so little time...

    the first thing I will tell you about is a tree.

    I was driving to work and heard a radio interview with a forensic archaeologist. She worked in, amongst other places, Iraq and Rwanda - studying sites of atrocities, mass burials etc.

    In Rwanda, she went into a Church. She was shown a huge long coffin set into the ground.

    She asked why it was so long.

    There was a woman, raped using a tree. The perpetrators forced the tree so far into her, went right through her. She was buried with the tree inside her.

    I could not get the image this telling created from my mind.

    How big was the tree? How long did she live for? How could other human beings do this to her? And why do we not have more information about this horrendous war in the mainstream media?

    I am determined to make time to find out more about the Rwanda genocide and the civil war. If anyone can suggest a good source please advise me..........

    This made me think also about the power of the spoken word over the visual image. I realise I have become somewhat insensitive to colour TV news/ programmes - not entirely - I often get choked up at some of the things I see. But this personal direct telling of this story was much more powerful. Rather than an immediate shock, the image built up slowly and engaged me, before I could avoid it. Talking about this with a good friend, we though maybe this was because as human animals, the human voice is one of the first things we hear/ sense. So perhaps it is a more effective communication tool than 2D moving images.

    I am going to see the Frida Kahlo exhibition at the Tate Modern tomorrow and am very aware of these ideas now. I wonder how it will affect my response to the paintings?

    Friday, September 09, 2005

    unequal pay...

    in a big way...

    if there was only one way to demonstrate that the oppression of women is still alive and well this is it...

    According to the Guardian - thirty years after equal pay legislation was introduced, women still earn almost a fifth (18%) less than their male counterparts. This gap widens to 40% for part-time workers. Even recent women graduates, after five years in employment, earn 15% less than men who have the same qualifications.

    Lady Prosser, the chair of the Work and Women Commission, set up last summer, will outline the progress made to date next week.

    Unions are hoping for a "gender equality duty" imposed on employers, mandatory pay audits to identify disparities and time off for union equality officers in the workplace.

    Prosser blames three factors sustaining the gender pay gap: "part-time working, occupational segregation and women's labour market issues, such as childcare, which act as barriers to women's chances of entering and progressing in the workplace."

    This makes great sense in the wider context of the inequalities (outlined this week's in the government's follow up to the Black Report of 1980). As Alex Scott-Samuel says - "There has been a lot of rhetoric [on health inequalities], especially since Labour first came in, but we now see that these are not working. Material factors still underlie inequality ... income inequalities are still at the same level as in the 1980s."

    Prosser believes "the solutions lay in longer-term changes, such as ending the job segregation that sees women tied to traditionally low paid jobs".

    I agree with Lady Prossers view of the three main causes, and that the solution needs to be wider than legal changes. The social divide is as great as ever. There has to be a total culture shift and that includes our own attitudes as women to our value. Many of us have internalised the oppression so that we believe that men should earn more as the "breadwinners" and we don't speak up enough.

    I know that voluntary agreements to equalise pay don't work. I will be disappointed if none of the unions expectations are met.

    Friday, September 02, 2005

    a day of peace

    The 21st September is United Nations International Day of Peace - a day of global ceasefire and non-violence, now fixed in the calendar as 21 September annually.

    "All sectors of society are being asked to honour and celebrate the Day on the 21 September. The vision of the Day extends far beyond the cessation of violent conflict and represents an opportunity for individuals to join in a moment of global unity."

    There is a huge list of suggestions as to what you can do yourself as action for peace on the day - you can make a badge and wear it, make up with someone you've fallen out with, hold a vigil.........

    seems like a great idea to me - not sure what I'll do, but I'll do something.

    Tuesday, August 30, 2005

    standing? gadgets? revolution?

    I'm back!
    I'm busy tonight.
    Just read Urban Chick's post on women's toilets.
    Reminded me that it's a favourite rant of mine.
    But what's to be done about the endless queuing?

    1 - We could lobby for more toilets for women in public places e.g. theatres, towns, festivals etc. -especially the places where we pay - e.g taxes pay for public toilets, ticket sales pay for theatre toilets.

    BUT - more toilets = more space needed for building, more water etc. - bad for the environment unless the toilets use grey water.

    2 - We could learn to pee standing - lots of advice here on Restrooms and MyVag. There are some people advocating provision of female urinals .... not a bad idea - except could be a problem if you're wearing trousers...the She-inal looks possible though not sure about the hose - doesn't sound clean.

    3 - Problems with technique can be reduced by using gadgets. All of this assumes that it's reasonable to expect us females to learn a new way of peeing. Many men in the world sit to pee so why shouldn't we?

    What a dilemma.. in the meantime I'll just stamp and shout when I'm out and about and have to QUEUE!!!


    You are having an experience that involves being ignored or hearing the same excuses over again - and it's related to issues of equality, rights, oppression etc.

    What do you do?

    Carry on as usual?
    "Hijack" the situation by dominating the conversation with some statements about oppression, making your point and stating that it is unacceptable?
    Withdraw your labour, saying that you will not engage until you see evidence of committment to positive action?

    Working to make changes on a large scale in the world - what works? Gradual slow change? High impact revolutionary change?

    If we gently challenge, over time people suffer anyway - e.g. poverty/ mental illness/ discrimination can entail a long slow painful death/ low quality of life.

    If we revolt - this can involve high numbers of victims in the short term.

    Which is best?

    I tend to vote for revolution.

    But then - I also think that staying internally personally committed to values and beliefs and acting accordingly day-in, day-out - whilst it's absolutely draining - if we act together in solidarity, despite not seeing evidence of the impact we have, we know that we are winning. If we stop, we have lost and those in power have won.

    Take the anti-Iraq-war protests in the UK. Tony Blair appeared to ignore them, despite the huge numbers of people who took part. So what do we do - stop using our vote in the belief that it's pointless giving our views? Then oppression really has won. Whoever then gets into power is there through apathy. Democracy may be flawed - what isn't. If we don't sign up to the democratic process - we have to identify an alternative that is better.

    I can see major faults in what I am saying even as I type - it's such a circular debate..... I know that if we vote against the current power, then the opposition that we don't want to have in power may get in by default.

    Any suggestions?

    water and song

    "If I were to construct a religion, I should make use of water".
    That's what Philip Larkin said.
    Me and a close friend were talking last week and we also thought that water would be important in devising a new religion - we don't want a deity, an icon, a guru - we would worship water with, amongst other things our voices.

    Maybe I'll write a song.....

    Sunday, August 28, 2005

    free association 3

    I find this more difficult each time. The TV is on and that is a distraction, but here it is anyway...
    1. Girlfriends:: love
    2. Here to stay:: earth
    3. Call me:: shortly
    4. Frustrated:: sex
    5. Public school:: yuppie
    6. Glitch:: computer
    7. Cheese:: chives
    8. Director:: theatre
    9. Pivotal:: image
    10. Exclusive:: design

    Thursday, August 25, 2005

    parents with learning disabilities

    Last week there was a lot in the news about the high numbers of parents with learning disabilities that have their children taken away from them. The guardian covered a particular story where a couple had their 2 children taken away by Essex social services.

    There is a good article on Woman's Hour that you can listen to. It is an attempt to balance the views. There are those who think that we are too liberal if we say that it is everyone's right to be able to choose to parent and to have the support we need in that parenting. They are compared to those who think we do not treat people with learning disabilities fairly and that children and removed from their parents too readily.

    It seems obvious to me that we are an intolerant society and even if we only consider the economics of the issue - it is far better to keep a child with it's parents and support the family as much as needed, than to split families up just because of the parents intellectual capacity. There is a big difference between parents who intentionally abuse or neglect their children and those who lack informationk, guidance and support to care safely. It is easy to provide people with support and appropriate guidance.....

    best of the best...

    I put some comments on the BBC woman's hour site about the Best of the Best Orange Prize winning novels over the last ten years that I have read. You can listen to the debate about having a prize for women only on the woman's hour site.

    I have read 5 of the 10 -
    Larry's Party - Carol Shields
    A Crime in the Neighbourhood - Suzanne Berne
    The Idea of Perfection - Kate Grenville
    Property - Valerie Martin
    Small Island - Andrea Levy
    and found it hard to decide which one was my favourite.

    I got an email asking me if I would be willing to be recorded talking about the novel I like best.
    I chose one and have just been recorded by a really friendly helpful woman named Corinna who put me at ease. My ramblings will be used on woman's hour next week to trail the vote that is coming up in late September - so go onto the website to read about the 10 novels and vote for your favourite! The winner will be announced on the 3rd October.

    And listen out for the trails - you might hear me......

    Sunday, August 21, 2005

    free association 2

    This week's offering from Luna Nina with my responses.....
    1. Fan:: belt
    2. Scum:: of the earth
    3. Lily:: of the valley
    4. Humid:: greenhouse
    5. Ghetto:: blaster (that shows my age!)
    6. Remember me?:: who?
    7. Polished:: surface
    8. Compose:: music
    9. Squish:: berry
    10. Future:: perfect

    If you want a go - you can copy the code from Luna Nina

    I am quite dozy with sleepiness as I do this - so I am confident that these are my immediate responses.

    Not sure what they say about me.......

    Friday, August 19, 2005

    free association 1

    Thanks to Luna Nina for this one.

    Each week she posts ten words to which you can respond to with the first thing that comes to mind. "Rules are, there are no rules." There are no right or wrong answers. Don't limit yourself to one word responses; just say everything that pops into your head.

    This is my first go -
    1. Idiot:: guide
    2. Rocket:: power
    3. Liability:: judgement
    4. Harmless:: creatures
    5. Stringy:: beans
    6. Theater:: tickets
    7. Gwyneth:: Paltrow
    8. Use it or lose it:: brain
    9. Sonic:: boom
    10. Pucker:: lips

    what is it?

    Wikipedia says
    "Feminism is a diverse collection of social theories, political movements, and moral philosophies, largely motivated by or concerning the experiences of women, especially in terms of their social, political, and economic situation. As a social movement, feminism largely focuses on limiting or eradicating gender inequality and promoting women's rights, interests, and issues in society.
    Within academia, some feminists focus on documenting gender inequality and changes in the social position and representation of women. Others argue that gender, and even sex, are social constructs, and research the construction of gender and sexuality, and develop alternate models for studying social relations."

    Germaine Greer believes that women fighting for equality is a poor aim - why want to be equal to men - their position in society is not so desirable in a world full of war, poverty and abuse. Greer's aim is for a new world order - freedom for all regardless of gender. She says "Women's liberation, if it abolishes the patriarchal family, will abolish a necessary substructure of the authoritarian state, and once that withers away Marx will have come true willy-nilly, so let's get on with it."

    So - feminism could be the big challenge to capitalism - thinking back to the post I did on the Beauty Myth on the 8th August - it seems obvious that if we spend less time investing energy in making our appearance conform to the stereotypes, add to that time saved by not conforming in other ways - we have more time to get together with other women - solidarity is essential.

    froom is a way for us to get together online if not in person. I intend to blog on froomblog about this same topic.

    Revolution can only be achieved by working together.

    Monday, August 15, 2005


    I have decided that from now on I will have BUDs - Bleeding Uterus Days - whenever I have a period. I got the idea from this amazing website MUM - the Museum of Menstruation. There is a brilliant and funny long list of words and expressions used to describe periods...and that's where I got BUD from - well I found BUS (bleeding uterus syndrome).

    I found MUM through visiting Mooncups website. Both Urban Chick and Your Emotional Neuroses Only Serve To Amuse use cups/ keepers to catch their uterus blood. I am going to look into mooncups for myself - I have recently managed to buy Natracare pads - hard to get hold of in the town I live in. Anyway, reading their posts reminded me of conversations I have had with friends about the term "sanitary protection" to mean products for catching blood - as if women's uterus blood is unsanitary and people have to be protected from it? So what do you call pads/ tampons?

    Wednesday, August 10, 2005


    I have been invited to contribute to froom - feminist women on the web. It is a new on-line women's network.

    I am also a member of the shared blog - froomblog - which I have put my first post on already. I am not sure what to write about next.

    The current topic on froom is women who inspire us.... there are so many - writers such as Germaine Greer, Naomi Wolf, Virginia Woolf, Marge Piercy, Marilyn French, Margaret Atwood.....and friends who are strong and supportive as well as open, vulnerable and whom I can support in my turn....there names are many.

    I have got some ideas about other issues to write about - I think I will post something about female gender specific titles - e.g. Ms v Mr, Lady v Lord....

    This is a great page to read about good practice in use of personal pro-nouns and other forms of language that are gender specific. Found it from a google search.

    Monday, August 08, 2005

    The Beauty Myth

    I am reading the Beauty Myth.

    naomi wolf Posted by Picasa
    It is hard going. This is the second time I have tried to read it. I keep getting stuck in the 2nd chapter - it's so dense and full of facts that are very depressing. I find it fairly overwhelming, but really need to read it.

    The first chapter has some significant figures and Naomi Wolf's turn of phrase is so clear in explaining how the goalposts keep moving for women.

    "The closer women come to power, the more physical self-consciousness and sacrifice are asked of them. "Beauty" becomes the condition for a woman to take the next step."

    "Beauty" is a characteristic that despite being very subjective, women are measured against. In the workplace, the law says that some jobs require a person employed to be attractive- this used only to apply to jobs like glamour model, but now Wolf demonstrates by quoting actual employment law cases, is applied to all jobs.

    "Since 1971, the law has recognized that a standard of perfection against which a woman's body is to be judged may exist in the workplace, and if she falls short of it she can be fired. A "standard of perfection" for the male body has never been legally determined. While defined as materially existing, the female standard itself has never been defined. A woman can be fired for not looking right, but looking right remains open to interpretatation." Moreover - "working women do not have access to legal advice when they get dressed in the morning...confronting constantly the dualistic experience of being "feminine" and "businesslike" at the same time, while they do not perceive men experiencing the same contradiction."

    So - do we dress to look smart and plain, or attractive and feminine?
    "dressing for business success and dressing to be sexually appealing are practically mutually exclusive because a woman's perceived sexuality can "blot out" all other characteristics...Since women's working clothes - high heels, stocking, make-up, jewellery, not to mention hair, breasts, leg and hips - have already been appropriated as pornographic accessories, a judge can look at any younger woman and believe he is seeing a harrassable trollop, just as he can look at any older woman and believe he is seeing a dismissable hag." It doesn't matter which we do - it will be wrong.

    Would wearing a uniform sort the problem out? Wolf thinks not - "Women dare not yet relinquish the "advantage" this inequality in dress bestows. People put on uniforms voluntarily only when they have faith in the fair ewards of the system. They will understandably be unwilling to give up the protection of their "beauty" until they can be sure the reward system is in good working order."

    I heard today on Radio 4 "Woman's Hour" that the average make-up wearing woman consumes four and half kilos of lipstick in her lifetime, and exposes herself to 200 synthetic chemicals before breakfast. It asked the question - why do women continue to do this and other things (like wearing high heels) which may harm their health? Do women control, or are we controlled by, our beauty practices?

    We carry on making ourselves conform to the beauty norms, the demands of which cost us a larger and larger percentage of our income, and hope that we are rewarded accordingly.

    Can you imagine what we would achieve if we did not spend hours each week buying clothes and cosmetics, applying cosmetics, removing body hair, styling our head hair, and more to the point thinking about all of this? We would be high-flyers indeed! Society has to put all these hurdles in our way, as despite them, we still achieve great things.... If we were paid according to our actual worth rather than according to what we are led to believe we are worth, the economic system would collapse. The status quo has to be upheld for this reason alone.

    Thursday, July 28, 2005


    Anyone into poetry - the Poetry Free For All is a great place to read and publish your own writings - either in a Forum for criticism, or in the Pink Palace of Poetitude if you just want to publish and not get comments.

    You have to comment to at least three other people's poetry before you can publish and you can only publish one poem per day - fair enough.

    Thanks to mattdalby for the link to pffa. Matt's blog is well worth a look.

    lad's mags

    I am not strictly anti-porn - we humans have always pictorally represented sex and made pictures that titillate and arouse.

    I am not into censorship either.

    But I do think that we need to be responsible and recognise what is suitable for adults and not children. We should also represent things that are overtly sexual, as such - honestly. Especially when they are strongly reinforcing gender stereotypes in a way that degrades women.

    Object have a campaign to encourage retailers to either remove lad's mags from sale or place them on the top shelf only. Having read their research the average lad's mag has more images of naked women in sexual poses with comments about "large tits!" and sex ads than Playboy which is still considered to be soft porn.

    The Sport has more breasts and sex ads than any of the mags is on sale as a newspaper! 92
    % of the content is sexual - including adverts about pictures of teenagers.

    They are asking people to write to their local shop - the Co-op despite it's ethical policy is still not putting the mags on the top shelf. Their website has a standard letter you can use.

    Alison Lapper

    I watched a programme on TV a couple of weeks ago about an amazing woman - Alison Lapper. She is an artist and campaigner for civil rights for disabled people. She is a single parent. And she is the model for the fourth plinth - the empty plinth in Trafalgar Square - the statue has been designed by Marc Quinn.

    This statue is so beautiful - I am so impressed that it was the chosen design for such a prominent site in London - maybe things are changing ........

    Alison Lapper - fourth plinth Posted by Picasa

    Wednesday, July 27, 2005


    I found this wonderful little blog type thing yesterday - it was a link off Shivering Naked which is a brilliant blog by a group of people who share a body (a multiple)...

    I particuarly like stuff about tolerance and prejudice.

    Tuesday, July 26, 2005

    proper blogging?

    I think this is what I understand as proper blogging - what I read of other people's is more stream of consciousness-like blurblings than what I've blogged so far.

    Yesterday was my first real day off sick. I went to the doc's on Weds last week at 3pm and got 2 weeks off. I then went shopping in a bit of a daze. On Thursday I had a long sleep-in and then went out shopping again. We went out to a friends for tea that evening. Friday I did more or less the same but with T as it was his day off and then we went to Z's BD get-together in a pub - that was good - I talked to D a lot. We have thought a lot about getting a campervan since going to Scotland and D has one.

    We were going to be having our best friend- C's daughter over to stay on Saturday but her Mum was really ill in hospital so we looked after her and her brothers, while S went to visit C. We had another friend over for the evening. On Sunday we went to visit C in hospital and I was distracted - partly by the 70's film of "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" with Gene Wilder on the TV in the ward, and partly by nothing at all- just unable to concentrate on C which has never happened before.

    I went for a long lunch with P on Monday which I really enjoyed - she is great company. Afterwards I had a counselling session that I was late for due to traffic jams. It was good though. I was reminded that I don't need to try and think things through whilst I'm off - that's what I usually do - that I can "feel" instead if I like. I realised I have been trying to fill my diary with plans for doing things - especially catching up with friends, housework etc. - and that leaves little time for real rest and recuperation. When I got back I cancelled Tuesdays lunch date - with a friend who I used to work with - knowing that seeing her would mean talking and thinking a lot about losing that job that we both did, and would put off the "recuperation". I felt guilty for a second or two, but not as bad as I often do about cancelling people.

    So, instead yesterday I slept in again then lay in bed reading for ages - a book about depression. I did the exercises in it - all of them - so you see I just have to "do" and "think"! I worked out that I have mild depression that is short term and the main symptom is fatigue causing lack of concentration - I think of it as stress not depression as it is not long term clinical depression - that's my self-diagnosis anyway!

    I gave myself a really painful back though - sitting up in bed. So I took some photos in the garden for a short while and then starting surfing the net again. My Mum called round with a new quilt for us - it's an early Christmas present!

    Yesterday evening T took R out somewhere that was obviously very difficult for them both - the old anxieties, sadness, anger and worry came flooding back and I felt unable to help. Two years is not long after someone dies is it? It was 2 years yesterday.....

    So - where does this rambling lead us - well today (Wednesday) I have slept in again, spoken to Mum on the phone, and am now writing this.

    One of the things that struck me yesterday is that I am splitting myself in two by having two blogs - I decided to have 2 so that this one could be anonymous and I could write stuff I don't want everyone to know is me writing it. The other one is the "public" one. I often don't know which one to write on and it's confusing me. I want to be whole - wow I guess I don't feel whole at the moment - there are things about me that I know people can't deal with and I have been trying to be confident that it's their problem and not mine, but not succeeding.

    That's interesting isn't it - that there are things I don't feel confident writing as my real name in case I am judged- I am realistic that people do judge me. In fact - the second post I ever did on this blog got me an offensive comment - something like " I hate you and people like you make me sick, so die!" As you can see I deleted the comment..... That was not a good start but it helped me justify the split! But now I am starting to blog more it's harder to manage.

    I had decided this morning to give up having two blogs and just have one, but writing about it now just scares me into keeping them separate. I wanted to be able to blog about stuff that I wouldn't want people I don't know very well to know about me - like this post in fact. How do other people do it? Most people's blogs seem very personal....

    Well, at the moment I am going to carry on - I was going to say what my other blog is called but I won't - although anyone who knows me well will work it out - but they are the people that know all this about me anyway. Of course all this assumes anyone is actually reading this at all - if they are not then what is the point? Some feedback would be good I suppose.

    Sunday, July 24, 2005

    time to think and write

    I am off work.

    It took me 3 weeks to work up to talking to the doctor about it... I just kept pushing myself through the feelings hoping they would go away and worrying about not being at work. I eventually accepted that it would feel uncomfortable and asked the doctor anyway. I was tearful as soon as she asked if I had been feeling tearful!

    I am reflecting on life's up and downs, work, myself and how it all fits together. I am also sleeping a lot. I guess I will write some more soon....

    Friday, July 22, 2005

    4x4's in the suburbs and towns...

    don't you just hate 'em?

    Wear and tear on roads, high fuel consumption - two good reasons for increasing tax on 4x4's.

    Higher chance of damage to pedestrians on impact in an accident due to the design- higher off the road. Bull-bars on the front? - don't get me started on those! - Ever seen a bull in the middle of town or suburbia? All they do is increase the risk of death or injury if you are hit by the vehicle surely?

    There is a campaign against urban 4x4's - some interesting facts - sign the petition if you share my views...

    Saturday, July 02, 2005

    bras and breast cancer

    I stopped wearing a bra about 12 years ago - I was too hot in a shop uniform one summer and going braless helped cool me down. I wore one on and off for a while after but stopped altogether a couple of years later. I felt self-conscious sometimes, but got used to it.

    Significant people in my life have told me they have problems with it recently. I have been thinking hard about what it means to me. I read some websites and what follows so clearly expresses my thoughts I wanted to share it.

    According to -
    The average white American woman wears her bra for more than 12 hours a day. From the survey results the authors have determined that, "The average white American woman is 19 times more likely to develop breast cancer than is a woman who wears a bra for less than twelve hours daily." Remember that some of these women claimed not to wear bras at all. In the sub-group of women who do wear bras, "women who wear bras for over twelve hours daily, but not to sleep, have a 21-fold greater chance of developing breast cancer than do women who remove their bras before twelve hours."

    Bra wearing is a psychological addiction, or hopefully, just a habit for you. You can reduce your cancer risk by dispensing with this one garment. say -
    Society's concept of the "ideal" breasts are breasts that would remain in their firm, uplifted attitude, on their own, for our entire lives. Advertising and messages in today's media have done a good job of convincing us of that myth, and the myth that breasts will sag unless we "properly support" them. The point to remember is that they will assume a more relaxed, adult position whether they are supported OR NOT! Some breasts never seem to reach that lower, relaxed position, even into a woman's sixth decade of life. This phenomenon is not a result of constant bra usage. Bras will not prevent that from happening. Constant, unnatural, external support from the bra will allow the ligaments to atrophy. If the ligaments are allowed to weaken from the lack of use, they will become sore when they are later required to fulfill their designed purpose of supporting the breast.

    When a nipple shows through the outer clothing, it often causes embarrassment to the young woman. The tendency is for her to hide them, as if she were ashamed that they are there or that she should not have them. Even bras on adult women have trouble keeping an erect nipple covered. Maybe we all need to consider working a little harder on our body image?!
    A woman's intentions are often misunderstood by how she dresses. Women that elect to not wear a bra might be considered by some immature individuals to be signaling many things, including sexual desire, a lack of good taste, a lack of moral fiber, or just plain being "out of style".

    We truly send mixed messages to everyone. Does society want us to wear a bra or not? How can the average woman ever know?

    Movement of the breasts is a concern of many women, and they may wear bras only to control that movement. We have to ask ourselves whether this is a concern that is based on the myths of fashion, or on the common sense of science. Unsupported breasts (of any size) will most likely move when the woman is walking or moving about. This is a natural movement, and there seems to be a reason for it.

    The results of much of the research have been interpreted as there being a positive correlation between restrictive clothing and breast diseases. Until more research is done, we are left to decide for ourselves what we want to do with our bodies. Hopefully, the day will soon come, when the fact that a woman does not wear a bra will be the "norm", and will not attract unwanted attention.

    Much great discussion to be had here - I can't find a good UK website that picks up these issues - does anyone know of one?

    democracy 2

    democracy Posted by Picasa

    Yes - just imagine!!

    I saw this poster displayed at the Council for Voluntary Services in Birmingham when I was there a few weeks ago. "It's the only life I know" is a project that has developed through discussion between [insertspace] and artists Hewitt & Jordan. Dave Beech, Hewitt & Jordan, Mark Hutchinson and Oliver Ressler will each produce a text-based poster that examines public space and its relationship to democracy. Download the posters here or get them free at certain outlets in Birmingham (listed on the site).

    Don't you just wish that was the way it worked??


    This is rather a long post - I make no excuses.

    Emily Duffy, the artist that produced the braball makes so much sense.

    She says -
    “Breasts are often a source of conflicting emotions for women. Our personal body experiences are rarely reflected in media images we see. A woman may feel ashamed, proud, annoyed, and sexual about her breasts during just one menstrual cycle, or even a single day. Almost every woman has a bra story to tell. Some are traumatic, others joyful. A first bra is one of our culture’s rites of passage for women, yet it’s often a secret, mumbled between teenaged girls and their mothers in store dressing rooms.

    Using bras as an art medium (something I’ve been doing for several years now) is a way of disrupting some of the longstanding taboos surrounding them. It reconciles the narrow stereotypes of virgin and whore and fills in the true definitions of women that are missing in between. We’re old and young, tall and short, thin and plump, rich and poor, straight and gay, famous and anonymous, and every racial background imaginable.

    The BraBall sculpture is solid bras, except for a "time capsule" in the very center that contains several pertinent items: documentation about my dispute with the other artist, one of my own bras, a scalpel, a replica of the Venus of Willendorf (one of the oldest known art artifacts - a plump, busty, female figure), documentation of my best friend’s battle with breast cancer (thank goodness she’s winning so far), a breast cancer ribbon pin, and a broken, red glass heart in a box. The last item is from a difficult therapy session I had several years ago, about being an incest survivor.”

    braball Posted by Picasa

    Thursday, June 30, 2005


    I saw this article in the guardian and it prompted me to think about my own situation. My partner has two children - boys aged 18 and 16. I have been a significant adult in their lives for about 10 years now.

    I do not call my Mum's husband and my Dad's wife Step-parents. I have always called them by their names and described them as I have just done. I was 15 though, so I guess that made it clearer to me. My own experience has meant that I have been extra-sensitive to making sure that I am not trying to replace my partners children's mum. I have never been and would not want to be "step-Mum".

    One phrase in the article really struck home - "The clarity of family life was absent," she wrote. "We did not know what we were aiming at." Me and my partner have often talked about having to make it up as we went along - not having a clear model to base things on - this has it's advantages. We have not been too constrained by stereotypes.

    I dealt with my parents separation at the age of 15 (1986) and my partner's mother re-married when he was young (in the early 60's). We both have our own experience to base our situation on. I lived between houses until I left home to go to university and even then, still shared time between the two when I visited and stayed during holiday periods. That was often helpful - if I was finding it difficult in one place, I went to the other....

    Interestingly, research shows - "a stepfamily in which there is limited yo-yoing between households has a better chance of success". I can see how that might be the case, but that means if both parents are alive, one misses out/ the child misses out on one parental relationship.

    I have been really careful to not change the home environment too much when they were at their mum's so it was different when they came here. I know that I have not always managed to do this in practice. I hardly ever go into their bedroom - I always put their clean clothes on the landing for them to collect if I do the washing, for example.

    In last few years when my partner's ex-wife was ill and his children lived here more of the time, the yo-yoing reduced, and that was harder to deal with in many ways - they missed their mum and we were all used to the routine. For the last few years they have lived with us full-time and our relationship has changed subtly - but this is also due to them now being young adults and quite independent. When they were younger I did more for them - mainly if their Dad was not available.

    Their Mum died two years ago and we have all had adjustments to make as a result. My partner is their emotional and practical support and I am a back-up. The "housework" I do is my contribution to the shared household. I hope I'm a reasonable one - but I am not perfect.

    Friday, June 10, 2005


    Did you know that every Council has a Forward Plan published every month?
    A forward plan details every key decisions due to be taken over the next four months. This is the place to see what is going to cost or save the taxpayer more than £200,000 and/ or have a significant impact on your community.

    This is a really important part of the process of government that is made transparent. If you want to ask questions about any of the planned decisions contact your local councillor.

    Tuesday, June 07, 2005


    Isn't Frida Kahlo amazing?
    Her work is being exhibited from 9th June to 9th October this year at the Tate Modern in London - find out more here.
    See some more pictures here.

    Self portrait Posted by Hello