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!!!

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