This is a reminder, I suppose, that I should not laugh too much about the activities of American politicians, lest I look at the BBC website and find an equally ridiculous story about my own.

Basically: there’s a filter on the House of Commons internet, so that MPs can’t waste their time (and our money) looking at sites that feature “offensive or illegal content or are sources of malicious software”. Which is a good thing.

Unless, of course, you’re Adrian Sanders, Lib Dem MP for Torbay, who, because of the filters, was prevented from reading Lembit Opik’s column in The Daily Sport. Mr. Opik (MP for Montgomeryshire, apparently) is quoted as not believing that The Daily Sport was inappropriate.

Where to begin?

Firstly, when I did a quick Google search for the paper, it told me that related searches were for “FHM” and “playboy”. Not a good start.

Eventually, I found the website (either the site’s designers are shite at getting their hits up, or my internet usage is also monitored!) and what I found was… well, pretty much what you’d expect.

The front page of the website has a grand total of:

  • 6 pictures of  women, bare-breasted, with nipples showing
  • 6 pictures of women, bare-breasted, but with either bikinis or strategic signs saying things like “wanna be a stunna?”
  • 2 areas of constantly changing pictures, which during the time I was watching included such wonders as a photograph of a woman suggestively eating a banana, women in open-necked shirts suggestively pulling at the collars, and women posing in bikinis in what are presumably meant to be their own homes.

It should be said at this point (not that it will be a surprise to anybody) that where I say “women”, you may as well read “large-breasted, white, able-bodied, thin, young women”.

An advert at the top of the page shows yet another woman, reclining in what is presumably meant to be post-coital bliss, but looks to me suspiciously like boredom, next to the tagline: “life’s short – have an affair”.

The pages are broken down into six categories, of which the first four are:

  • Free Stuff (featuring “babe galleries”, “naked celebrities”, “search for a stunna” as the first three items; “news” is down in sixth place)
  • Rude Stuff (seriously, you don’t even want to know. Suffice it to say that “XXX” appears more than once.)
  • Play Stuff (amazingly, nary a mention of S-E-X; this category is for gambling. Yay.)
  • Read Stuff (“agony”, “Michelle’s sex clinic”, “students talk sex”, “girls who kiss”, “my first time”, “milf talk”… and oh, look! Lembit Opik appears three links down from that, after what I’m assuming are two other columnists.)

The only story visible without scrolling down is, funnily enough, this very one. Of course, their take on it is “the site is considered too raunchy for those surfing the web at the House of Commons.” There are many words I could use to describe this festering shitpile of ill-considered, tasteless porn masquerading as an actual publication, and “raunchy” is not the first thing that comes to mind, I can assure you.

In all honesty, looking at this site didn’t upset me in the same way that FHM upset me. I suspect this is because FHM is wholeheartedly and – if you like – professionally hateful. The Daily Star still retains a passing notion that it is claiming to be a newspaper, and is therefore torn in two directions; porn and not-porn. On the other hand, how on earth can The Daily Star actually claim to be a newspaper? Out of painful curiosity, I clicked on the “news” link. There were a whole 10 links. Yep, ten. Out of which 6 (six) related in some way to sex, or sexual areas of the body. Including “Eastenders star caught wanking” and “My boobs fell out!”.

This, to reiterate, is the website that Lembit Opik claimed was “not inappropriate”. Of course, he also referred to his articles as “my words of wisdom”, and let’s not forget, this is writing done for a publication that seems to have a deep and abiding love of ending words inappropriately with the letter “a”. Wanna; stunna; outa… the list is endless, and, for a pedant like me, deeply, deeply annoying. Frankly, I’d ban the bloody thing on the grounds of shite spelling alone, never mind the badly photoshopped porn that they’ve thrown all over it.

… Use the number zero, of course! Breasts and zeros are both (roughly) round, you can see them pretty much anywhere you go, men didn’t understand either concept for many, many years…

More to the point, through the geeky amusement that is Bad Science, I’ve been alerted to the truly awful formula published in The Sun. See what I do in the name of research? I actually go to The Sun’s website. Be proud of me. Even Ben Goldacre didn’t do that.

I like to think that if we pitted the articles against each other, something like this might happen:

The Sun: BOOOOOOBS!!!!

Ben Goldacre: Um, your maths is totally wrong

TS: Ha ha – “Boobfin” – geddit?! “Boffin” – but for BOOBS! Geddit?!!!

BG: Oh, God, and your pet mathematician went to Cambridge..

TS: Look! Numbers!! 0 x 70 x (20 x 5 + 32) /75 = 123.2.**

BG: No, you fools! No! 0 x [anything] = 0. Seriously. Stick to thinking about breasts. Or hire better mathematicians.


BG: Yeah, that’s better.

*Of course, an easier way of combining maths with breasts is to remember that women can count. But this is The Sun we’re talking about!

** The actual “formula” is as follows:

“The equation is O=NP(20C+B)/75.

To figure out the naughtiness rating (O), you times the number of nipples exposed, from zero to two or expressed as fractions of nipple shown (N) with the percentage of exposed frontal surface area (P).

The sum in brackets is 20 multiplied by the cup size (C), where A cup is one, B is two, C is three and D or above is five.

Add that figure to B, the bust measurement in inches. Then divide your answer by 75. Any score higher than 100 is counted as obscene.”

And I wholeheartedly apologise for letting the words “naughtiness” and “rating” into the blog. It will only happen again if The Mail decides that they, too, want a stupid, pointless, non-news item involving numbers and breasts.

Apologies for a noticeable lack of life on the blog front – I’ve been living as a softy Southerner for the last week or so (by which I mean that I went back to London to spend some time with my family, and thus wasn’t around on the internet).

You see, once again, driven by a need to have money to buy food, I’m back in the sordid world of catering.

Actually, I quite like catering. There’s free food, lifts home if your shifts go on too long, and as long as you can remember the ingredients in the canapes, you’re fine.

However, there is a drawback. I’m doing this again because I have little money. Therefore, I have little money to spend on clothing. Unfortunately, with the possibility of work comes the necessity of uniform. So off I went on a uniform hunt. I have had to shop in the men’s section of Primark for every single item, bar the trousers. I was not happy.

White, long-sleeved shirts with a button-able collar. They should have been simple to find. They weren’t. The theory seems to run something along these lines:

“Most women have breasts. I shall design women’s shirts only for women who have breasts of a certain, average or fashionable size. Women who have breasts may wish to emphasise their breasts. I shall design women’s shirts to always emphasise their breasts. To emphasise breasts, it is good to leave some shirt buttons undone. Since I have decided that all women wish to emphasise their breasts, I shall design all women’s shirts in such a way that they cannot be buttoned to the collar, because no woman would wish to button the shirt to the top.”

So, button-able collared shirts didn’t exist for women. So I went to the menswear department. On the plus side, I now know what size collar I take – and who knows when that might come in useful?! And I’ve got cheap shirts.

Not so good is the fact that although the shirts button over my breasts, they do not button over my hips. Luckily, the (men’s) waistcoat and high-waisted trousers cover this up. This might seem like a little thing to be annoyed about, but it’s bloody infuriating. It’s infuriating that I can’t find generic workwear to fit properly. I’m not asking for the moon, it’s just a plain white shirt. What’s so difficult? And it’s irritating that the buttons on “male” shirts are on the other side of the shirt compared to “female” shirts. There’s no good reason for it. Trust me, you know if you wear a shirt not designed for your body shape. It’s not rocket science. Yet another tiny little thing to make it clear that socially, there’s meant to be some kind of Great Divide between the genders.

And on the subject of the Great Divide, one of the fems recently lent me the book Gender Outlaw by Kate Bornstein. It’s definitely worth reading. It’s a very personal book about the less popular end of the LGBTQI umbrella, but without being a “woe is me” memoir. Which means that it sits very neatly alongside Whipping Girl (Julia Serano), a book that isn’t really personal at all. Both are worth a read, although I think I’d recommend Whipping Girl first.

While Gender Outlaws is mostly very interesting, it did remind me of Cunt in places – the difference being that whilst Inga Muscio has a chapter or two that involve a lot of moon and goddess worship, Bornstein had shamanic rituals and a copy of her play.

It was a very good play, but that’s not really the point.

Perhaps being a little peculiar is necessary for radical feminism? Maybe that’s just how these things work – the radical people do a lot of hard work and a lot of activism, the liberals do some work, some activism, talk lots and try to get the media to write nice things about the cause, and then people like Germaine Greer decide they’re bored and want to stir shit.

And, in doing so, emphasise the Great Divide. A whole article dedicated to, of all things, Michelle Obama’s dress – and the dresses of their daughters – only serves to highlight the different ways that men in politics and women in politics are treated. Because of course, Barack Obama was wearing a suit. Like every man in politics. Not much you can say about that, unless for some reason his tie was the wrong colour.

Well, perhaps one day it won’t be like this. Perhaps I’ll live to see the day when women can buy whatever style of shirt they need, and aren’t vilified for what they wear. Maybe. When my optimism doesn’t look like this:

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