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[23 Nov 2010|10:37am]
Something that really bothers me is the constant, low-level sexism and objectification that goes on daily everywhere, and how since it's not like you can police people's thoughts, you are treated as if you're over-reacting if you find it offensive and upsetting.

Yesterday I was on a train home from work and as usual was sitting on the floor in the vestibule squished in with a load of other people (Oh, London Midland how shit you are.) There were two guys who looked to be in their twenties who spent the entirety of the journey until Leighton Buzzard (where I moved carriages to get away from them, I'm sure they carried on) being about the worst example of shallow, sex-obsessed, sexist men you could imagine.

They were on their way back to Birmingham from a company meeting in London, and were talking about all the "honeys" they had seen that day. Well, one was, the other was saying he was blind because there were only one or two fitties. They started out by talking about the blokes they had met that day, who were discussed using their names (you know, like actual PEOPLE) and things they had liked about them personality or characteristic wise. When it came onto the women, they didn't appear to have learned a single one of their names and they were described by what they were wearing, what colour their hair was or how big their tits were, or in the case of one woman, she was "the one who was doing the photocopying all sexily." Uh. Huh.

I should point out here, that these men were talking very loudly, I was hardly eavesdropping, they made no effort at all to have a quiet conversation. Anyway, if we return to sexy-photocopy lady, for lack of any actual interesting information on her, this sparked a good 10 minute long debate about her attractiveness where they embarked upon a pointless pissing contest to see who could be the most mysogynistic and objectionable. And they both won.

Let's call our men Red-Faced-Burger-Muncher (RFBM) and Shit-Pink-Shirt-Bad-Hair-Wanker (SPSBHW)

SPSBHW objected to the fact that RFBM thought she was sexy and I shall paraphrase a little here, but am in no way making anything up:

SPSBHW: You need glasses mate, she wasn't fit, what's wrong with you? She'd been at the pies, she was chubby!
RFBM: No she wasn't, there's nothing wrong with my eyes, I know they work because I spent ages staring at her because I thought she was gorgeous.
SPSBHW: You are just wrong mate. You need to get some standards.
TFBM: OK, Look. I think she's about the same size as my girlfriend, and I would never say my girlfriend is chubby. Here, have a look at a picture of my missus...*gets out phone and shows picture*
SPSBHW: No way man, your girlfriend is fine. She's fit. This girl was fat, your girlfriend is slim. She's normal.

Ah yes. Girls with a bit of a tummy aren't normal are they? They're some kind of FREAK OF NATURE. Women have a moral imperative to make sure they look absolutely perfect all the time, otherwise they don't get added to your "I'd fuck her" list (or possibly they'd be on the reserves, because hey, you are a GUY and GUYS have NEEDS yeah.) I don't think it's lowering myself to their level to point out that neither of them were exactly Brad Pitt or Johnny Depp.

After the above conversation they then went on to list basically about every woman they both knew and talk about whether or not they would do her. At this point I texted Robert to express my upset that I was overhearing this conversation, and my frustration that I was too much of a wuss to call them out on it and say something. His reply was (admittedly to try and make me feel better, but failing spectacularly) that this was just tedious guy banter, and it wasn't my problem.

See, that's where I think he is wrong, and where I hope you will agree that I am not over-reacting. If I had overheard this conversation in the pub, I would have rolled my eyes, I would have thought that these men were wankers and morons, but I wouldn't have been left feeling shaken and upset by the experience. It was 5.30pm on a commuter train and these men dehumanised a long list of women, talking about them as sex objects, often in insulting "I would, but only because she's got a nice face, her tits are too big" type concessions. They had absolutely no regard for the fact I and several other women were sitting right next to them, and perhaps they offended some of the men too, I don't know. They both had girlfriends (they compared pictures) and while I know "boys will be boys" I certainly would have a problem if I knew my boyfriend routinely spoke about other women in such a dehumanising way (and believe me, it's borderline at times.) These women were professionals, who they worked with, and all they could think of to talk about was how fit they were, the blokes they met got comments on their skills in the job, but the women were not taken seriously in this way at all.

And above anything else I felt disappointed with my response as a feminist, which was to sit quietly, blood boiling, because I didn't feel that it would achieve anything if I spoke up. After all, I'm just a woman. And I'm a woman with big tits and a bit of a tummy, so my opinion is probably worthless because I'm not "normal" apparently. And even if they had the good grace to shut up if I said anything, they probably would have laughed and picked over my physical features as soon as I was gone anyway. I doubt I'd have gone on their "I would" list eh?

Every retarded, Neanderthal thing they said, a brilliant witty retort popped into my head and I was left feeling ashamed of myself for not saying anything, while they were unconcerned with their behaviour. How is it I was the one left feeling like I'd somehow done something wrong for not sticking up to it? In my perfect little fantasy world, I would have lashed them with my bons mots, they would have looked shamefaced and half the carriage would have broken into applause for me having the courage to say what they'd all been thinking. But in reality, the men would probably have laughed, and the surrounding people would have looked awkwardly at their shoes and thought I was over-reacting.

In the grand scheme of feminist concerns, and life in general, some people might feel that this is a relatively small issue. But I think it's indicative of a lack of respect, and the attitude that in so many realms of life we have to let (and let me clear here, this is a certain type of guy, I'm not tarring you all with the same brush) "men be men" and it's our responsbility to just ignore it as meaningless. If we accept the smaller things like this, then it's easy to see how we live in a culture where it's acceptable to expect women to take responsibility for rape by dressing appropriately and always thinking five steps ahead for their safety; rather than expecting men to take responsibility for rape by NOT BEING RAPISTS.

Perhaps you think by having written a long post about this, that I am over-reacting about it and no one else would have been bothered. But there was one person on that train who found their conversation insulting and demeaning. I reckon their girlfriends might have thought so too.
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[21 Jul 2010|11:35am]
In the next few days I am hoping to set up an PROPER BLOG, in which I intend to record my responses to reportage on rape and the utterly skewed interpretations I often find inherent. Cheerful reading huh? I will probably not have such a narrow focus as this, but to start with this will be what I use it for, as I am planning on a small campaign against the Lib Dem/coalition proposal for anonymity for men accused of rape until charged (but more on that another time.)

Today's food for thought is on the news that there were several alleged rapes at Latitude festival this year. I'll refer to the article in The Guardian on this.

Rapes at Latitude prompt launch of safety awareness campaigns.

I suppose I should begin with something of a disclaimer, that *of course* it would be naive and foolhardy to react in the extreme and not educate and encourage women to think about their personal safety and take reasonable measures to keep themselves safe. We can't ignore the world that we live in and say "Oh but it's the fault of the perpetrators, not the victims, so the women shouldn't have to change anything." Would that it were, but it's just not practical.

But, you know what? In spite of knowing this, it does really grate my cheese (where did that come from?!) that I seldom read a news story like this without it focussing on the response required from the women to protect themselves. A necessary measure, yes, but why why why do we so seldom hear about measures to tackle the problem rather than cauterize the symptoms of this behaviour, ie the attacks upon the women? The problem is the behaviour and the actions of men who have such a ludicrous sense of entitlement and power over women that they choose to rape. Note the use of the word "choose" there. I reject in the majority of cases that men are helpless slaves to their sexual impulses and can't control themselves; we're not talking about men in general here, the majority of whom would never dream of raping someone, we're talking about a specific sort of man who does and would. Why should it be down to women to accept that this behaviour is an inevitability of the world, and if they wish to be brazen enough to LEAVE THE HOUSE then they must take measures to protect themeselves from it?

To borrow from 'The Equality Illusion' by Kat Banyard it is not the same as going out in a storm and standing in the middle of a field with an umbrella. Of course men are also vulnerable to things such as muggings and attacks late at night, but I resent the inference that by being out at night women have to think about who they are with, how they get home, what they are wearing, and any spontaneity that may alter the course of a night out means that they dangerously choose to expose their body to the vagaries of sexual predators.

Melvyn Benn, the chief executive of Festival Republic which runs Latitude, said the organisation was planning to raise awareness of the potential dangers faced by female festival-goers at all its events, which include Reading, Leeds and the Big Chill.

Let me repeat that obviously I am not condeming, nor even criticising those who want to make women more aware of these dangers. Great, every little helps, and we should all be trying to be safe. What I am trying to get across is that we should be far more angry that this is even necessary. There should be an equally strong move to talk to the men at these events about how unacceptable this is. There are few crimes where the victim is so often given the blame for it ever occuring, but with rape this happens time and again. If a woman wanders off from her friends in the dark what does she expect?

What she should expect is not to be subjected to a sexual attack, yet time and again we are forced to accept this as an inevitability.

Finally. I did want to talk about this UTTERLY VILE piece from The Metro last week, but I know that Het wanted to write something about this and I don't want to tread on her toes, so to speak. In summary then, here is what I imagine was going through the reporter/editorial mind: "OMG LOLZ it's really funny and totally awesome when women masturbate and this lady DIED doing it. Haha let's all point and laugh at her fucking PICTURE which we've published in the most prurient article imaginable. We won't outright say it, but it's obvious that the inference is that she was doing something DIRTY and WRONG because let's face it, women aren't allowed to enjoy sex if there's no man being gratified too. Ed: Let's all go and shoot ourselves in the fucking head for this utterly despicable, pointless and hurtful article." If this makes you as angry as it did me maybe email the editor? Ultimately probably pointless, but it's better than doing nothing.
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[06 Jun 2008|01:06pm]
Hello Everyone.

As you are probably aware I am running in the Jane Tomlinson 10k in a couple of weeks time. I don't know if you know anything about her, but she was a pretty awesome lady from Leeds who was diagnosed with terminal cancer in 2000 and told she had 6 months to live. She held on for 7 more years raising huge amounts of money for cancer charities by running in a lot of races and cycling across America. Pretty inspiring. Given recent events I will be running this race with my Aunt in mind, and I would really really appreciate it if any of you could sponsor me.

I am running with work as a team, so I don't have an individual sponsorship page and all money goes into the team pot. But you can leave comments on the website, or if you prefer to do it the old fashioned way and sponsor me in cash or by cheque that's fine too.

You can sponsor me here. Or if you want to post me a donation let me know and I'll furnish you with my address.

The race is on 22 June and apparently there are a couple of players from Leeds Rhinos and Leeds United running with us. What?!

I digress. Jane Tomlinson was an incredibly inspiring woman, and I am really proud that I'm taking part in something like this for the first time ever. Anything you can give at all will be gladly received. All the money goes to her appeal, which then distributes it to various cancer charities, including Macmillan. If you are a UK taxpayer please tick the gift aid box, as this adds 28p for every pound that you donate, at no extra cost to you.

I'll link to this a few times in the coming weeks and leave it unlocked for any benevolent strangers who may stray upon it.

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last post on the bugle [12 Aug 2004|11:27am]
[ mood | accomplished ]

Hello folks. You've stumbled upon the ramblings of stolenokisses. I can't think why you'd be thinking of adding me, but if you are comment here so that I know, I'm a bit dozy y'see...I probably won't notice otherwise.

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