Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Sometimes It's Hard To Be A Woman.

Take a look at the Guardian's page of columnists, which features all the regular writers along with their latest columns.

If you break down the demographics there are 12 males and 8 females.

Of the dozen males the topics covered varies from sport to conspiracy theories to the economy. There is quite a substantial range of topics. In contrast the eight female writers cover a slightly different range of subjects:

  • Hadley Freeman complains about the unfair burdens women in show business have to put up with.
  • Barbara Ellen says about the sexist treatment of Andy Murray's mum and the unfair burdens that women in sport endure.
  •  Zoe Williams writes about the royal family- while noting that "that squeamishness around discussing the female pudenda is rooted in a deeper hatred of women"
So three of the eight writing about how hard it is to be a woman.

On the front page of the Guardian's Comment Is Free section there are ten articles by women, including the one by Hadley Freeman. Others include:
  •  Rhiannon Cosslett on the unfair burdens of a female royal.
  • Ellie Cosgrave on sexual assault (an admittedly more serious issue than the other).
  •  Nancy Cohen on women voters and the "Tsunami of anti-woman legislation".
Two of the other pieces are by ethnic minority women talking about the unfair burdens of being black.

So out of 17 different female writers, 6 are writing about sexism and 2 about racism. It seems that almost half the output of female columnists is self obsessed identity politics.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Go Away, 'Batin.

A few years ago I parodied the last government's determination to ban things with a proposal to ban masturbation. David Cameron is trying to make this a reality- with moves to make people apply with their full name and contact details as they ask their ISP if the can watch pornography. Not child porn, but consensual adult porn.

Forcing people to make details of their private sexual behaviour known to their broadband providers is intrusive to an extent that is hard to overstate.

Cameron says it's about protecting the children, but his obsession with stopping teenage boys having a wank looks positively Victorian and is downright creepy. At least the Victorians turned their anti-masturbation zealotry to invent good stuff like Cornflakes.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Justice In A Tribal Society.

The Trayvon Martin-George Zimmerman case fascinates me because it shows how fragile the rule of law is even in an advanced democracy.

 There was quite clearly no evidence that George Zimmerman was guilty of a crime and he was found not guilty, but even so the fact that he was tried at all and the US government is still investigating him is an affront to justice.

The fact that so many people are willing to publicly denounce the verdict despite not actually being able to explain what evidence the prosecutors presented that showed that Zimmerman was a murderer is also shocking. It seems that the US Department of Justice is still trying to lynch Zimmerman by making it a civil rights case, despite a complete lack of evidence for any racial bias on the shooter's part.

What makes so many people lose their minds, lie shamelessly and dispose of the rule of law?


By turning a tragic event into a racial issue- despite the fact that there is a lot of evidence that Zimmerman is no racist- the media have ensured that the question wasn't "did Zimmerman kill Martin" but " are you on the side of Martin Luther King, Abraham Lincoln and Rosa Parks or are you a KKK sympathiser".

It's not an approach that is likely to uncover truth but is sells papers and enables idiots to preen self righteously and pretend to care about a dead kid (although not enough to actually look at what actually happened).

Tuesday, July 02, 2013

Liberalism Versus Democracy

The protests in Egypt as well as Turkey are a symptom of a wider struggle between the modernism and reactionary Islamism. Both Morsi and Erdogan are pushing an authoritarian Islamic agenda despite the objections of more liberal factions in society.

However both of them won free and contested elections in order to obtain power. They have democratic mandates. There is a similar clash between authoritarian populists and a liberal middle class in other countries in Thailand and Russia.

In other words liberalism and democracy are in direct opposition rather than being bedfellows as is widely assumed. In the west we have developed a system of more or less pluralistic, liberal democracy but we only got here hundreds of years of a slowly widening franchise-. If we had enjoyed full democracy from the 17th Century onwards when the country was populated by superstitious peasants then we probably would not have that.

Monday, July 01, 2013

"A 19th Century Barbara Cartland."

A couple of articles by feminist writers have criticised the likely appearance of Jane Austen on Bank of England notes in the near future and the general lack of women on the notes.

Austen is apparently not radical enough, a 19th century Barbara Cartland, whose place should be taken by someone more radical like George Elliot or Mary Wollstoncraft.

They've got a point, we need a more radical female on the £10 note than Austen. Someone who upset the apple cart, tore down gender barriers and accomplished more than most men in her position. We do of course need Margaret Thatcher on the tenner.