Writing aloud

Last year  a man who had boasted of groping women was elected President of the United States. He dismissed his comments as locker room talk, and many women still voted for him. Older Nephew reckons he’s been in a fair few locker rooms in his time, and this is not locker room talk. Women who didn’t vote for him  registered how  blatant sexism and misogyny was again disregarded as something minor, unimportant.

On this side of the pond a senior politician has resigned and apologised for behaviours which he says were acceptable ten or fifteen years ago but not now. They were not acceptable ten or fifteen years ago. They have never been acceptable, but they have been accepted. there is a difference.  As Vicky Featherstone, the Royal Court theatre’s artistic director, sad in this interview with the Guardian newspaper, women have put up with this behaviour too long while knowing that some men have abused their positions of power.

Here’s a little of what she has to say:

“The reason I’m so angry is I’m so shocked that we’d got to this point and we’d all accepted it. We all knew about it! We. All. Knew.” What exactly did she know a month ago? “I knew that pretty much every single woman I know had suffered sexual harassment in her life. I knew that, and I’d just accepted that. I’m hardwired to accept it. I’m a feminist, and when I talk about it, it shocks me. But I had literally accepted it, like I accept that we have a class system. I’d accepted it like I accept that there are homeless people. And that’s just bizarre – but it’s what we’ve done. And then suddenly someone speaks out, and you start to think, why are we as a society accepting of this situation?”

Read the rest, here’s the link.

More of the boys’ room joking was apparent on HIGNFY on Friday night. The two teams were men, the guest arbiter, a woman. When they joshed and trivialised the women’s complaints, I, and I imagine thousands of other women, felt that old ignored and sinking feeling. I’d missed the start of the programme and the introductions, I didn’t recognise the man next to Ian Hislop. He deftly demonstrated his lack of understanding of the issue when he talked about Michael Fallon’s harassment of journalist Julia Hartley-Brewer when instead of condemning Fallon’s behaviour he described his actions as brave, on the grounds that Ms Hartley-Brewer is “a big strong girl”. Continue reading


Distractingly Sexy

I nipped round to the local micro brewery for a half. I had a private tour there over a year ago before the beer was brewed, but until last night hadn’t tried any. It was nice. I knew some friends were intending to go this evening when the brewery was staying open longer than usual. So with MasterB outside in the garden, and my dinner lining my stomach, off I trotted.

I met two friends. I knew no one else, recognised no one else other than the owner. Now this is odd. The brewery is in the next street. I know lots of people there. If I go to my local pub even if I don’t know everyone, I recognise the vast majority. There were at least three hipsters. We never see hipsters in this neighbourhood. So passé; so Hoxton. Really, I may have to move.

However, the beer I tried tonight which had elderflower was delicious. I suspect it is a *ladies’ beer*, the sort of thing Al Murray in his rôle as the pub landlord would suggest for his female customers. Sexism has been in the news this week after Tim Hunt made a speech to fellow scientists and in front of scientific journalists at Seoul. In case you missed it, here is what he is alleged to have said:

“Let me tell you about my trouble with girls. Three things happen when they are in the lab. You fall in love with them, they fall in love with you and when you criticise them, they cry.”

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Intolerance, Discrimination, Persecution and Ridiculousness

Did any of you, when you read or heard UKIP councillor David Silvester’s claim that the recent floods were due to the government’s decision to legalise gay marriage, wonder, as I did, if it was a hoax? Surely no one could be that stupid. Oh yes they can. And people voted for this man. So help us. We can laugh at how ridiculous Silvester is here, but in some countries he could be much more dangerous.
For alas, he is not alone in his nonsensical thinking. And some of these nonsense thinkers wield an unhealthy amount of power.
Joan Smith wrote a cracker of a piece in the Independent on Sunday asking why Vladimir Putin gets so hot and bothered about homosexuality.
Nigeria has just joined thirty-seven other African countries in passing a bill allowing the state to persecute gay people and witch hunts have begun.
Yet, in my in lifetime, I have seen much greater acceptance of people’s sexuality. I attended an all girls’s secondary school. When I first heard the word lesbian, I didn’t know what it was, but I knew it wasn’t something to aspire to. It was a small school, around 450 girls. Some of them must have been gay, surely. But if they were, they definitely weren’t out. Maybe Sandi Toksvig, who attended a school in the same town, was bolder and her sexual orientation was a commonly accepted fact in the sixth form common room, but somehow I doubt it. Now she celebrates her lesbianism in her numerous appearances on tv and radio and no one I know bats an eye.
We are starting to see more and more out gay men and women in public life. It’s helpful I think, and makes it clear that an interest in cushions is not necessarily an indicator of sexual orientation.

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