I can’t find a clip right now, but I just saw an advert for Vagisil Cream, to ease ‘feminine’ itching caused by pads, thrush, life, etc…

Well, firstly, ‘feminine’ itching? In my ‘feminine area’? Methinks someone is making the ole ‘feminine = female’ mistake again! (Cue polemic about how the very notion of scratching oneself would be contrary to feminine ideals, yadda yadda, I’ve been there already).

But secondly… it was followed by an advert for cream cheese.

There was MUCH lol’ing, to the utter bewilderment of my little brother.

Happy days.

Recently, Kirsten drew my attention to a story reported under the headline “Laos mum-to-be ‘denied uk lawyer'”.

Long story short, Rebecca reminded me in comments that you can in fact do more than just whinge on blogs; you can whinge on the BBC website, too! So, I did.

On Tuesday, I got a response, which I’ve only just noticed. In all honesty, I’m not entirely sure what to make of it, but it’s a positive outcome, and I suppose that’s the main thing. Have a look for yourselves:


We have only a short space in headlines to sum up the substance of the
story. While "mum-to-be" could be construed as having positive
connotations, it is in fact a phrase we should not be using anyway, as
we prefer not to use informal terms such as mum, dad and kid. I have
amended the existing headline and will ensure we are more thoughtful
about future stories concering Ms Orobator.

Kind regards,

News website"

Indeed. Of course, the word they’ve replaced it with – “prisoner” – is a good couple of characters shorter than the original, and no less accurate. And effectively saying “well, you might be right, but I’ve removed it for an entirely different reason” is a bit strange. But they have changed it, and they have replied to me, and it’s not a bad reply, all things considered.

What do other people think?

Whose clever idea was it to describe Samantha Orobator (previously mentioned here) as “Laos Mum-To-Be”?

Oh, that’s right.

It was the BBC.

Despite the fact that within the article, we see that “doctors and the UK Foreign Office had said Miss Orobator had become pregnant while in jail. The Laotian government has claimed she had been pregnant when arrested.

So the pregnancy was being reported as something that was worrying. Something that should be fairly uncontentious, being argued about. Not an uncomplicated, anticipated, exciting pregnancy. Not a happy announcement. Not a tidbit of celebrity gossip. And certainly not something that you’d want to give a flippant title to.

This article is not the most recent news of Ms. Orobator – that’s here, as far as I can see – and if Kirsten hadn’t mentioned it to me, I wouldn’t have seen it. Now that I have, I’m sickened. Seeing “sex” in headlines when they mean “rape” is bad enough, but to refer to a woman who has most likely been raped in prison as a “mum-to-be“, when her pregnancy means that she’s living with the physical evidence of her rape growing inside her...
How can you even put words to how inappropriate that is?

ETA: I did get a reply when I wrote to the BBC about it, which I’ve posted up here.

In a strange coincidence, this news is brought to you by Dr. Allan Pacey from the University of Sheffield.

It is hardly surprising that men can and do have fertility problems. It’s something that ought to be a corollary of Sod’s Law: if one thing has any form of input into another thing, there is potential for the first thing to be broken, causing problems with the second.

Only in a society which has a long history of believing that only women could be infertile, which pathologises the female body, which venerates the male, the masculine and the phallic, and links those things with virility, strength and power, could we even be seeing such a nonsensical item of non-news.

If a woman is automatically worth less in our society because of the genitalia she posesses, so too is a man worth more by virtue of the genitalia he posesses. And when we have a set-up that means that men are over-represented in the sciences, where such research should be carried out, and when the tacit support of the patriarchal status quo is the default for reporting, why on earth would research into male inadequacy ever be carried out?

Dr. Pacey, that research would be valuable, if only to try to even the score a little with all of those studies that show women as lacking.

What about Teh Menz, indeed?

It’s a tag that I use fairly often. In fact, it’s a phrase I use fairly often as well, and when I’m not using it to refer to the practice of moving two single beds together to form a “double” bed – which will thus have a divide down the middle, rendering it ultimately pointless – I’m using it to refer to the practice of separating “the sexes”, often using the medium of Unbiased Objective Science (TM).

Of course, claiming to use Unbiased Objective Science is a nonsense when it comes to The Great Divide, for one simple reason, which I have found best summed up in Deborah Cameron’s book, The Myth of Mars and Venus*:

“Most research studies investigating the behaviour of men and women are designed around the question: ‘is there a difference?’ – and the presumption is usually that there will be… A study which finds no significant difference is less likely to be published.”

Now, because I’m inquisitive, it occured to me to wonder what kind of studies do get published. In this, I was aided and abetted by the BBC website’s habit of putting three or four other links with their story, usually under a “see also” style heading. I took one study, the first on the list, and followed the links. I’ve put them in chronological order, with the most recent first, but otherwise have changed nothing:

  1. Shopping Sprees Linked to Periods – 30th March 2009
  2. Wearing Red ‘Boosts Attraction’ – 28th October 2008
  3. Women Pick Men Who Look Like Dad – 3rd September 2008
  4. Short Men ‘Are the Most Jealous’ – 12th March 2008
  5. Sexy Walk ‘Keeps Men Off Scent’ – 8th November 2007
  6. Gaze ‘Key to Facial Attraction’ – 7th November 2007
  7. Partner Choice ‘Shaped By Father’ – 13th June 2007
  8. Why Women Fall For ‘Mr. Average’ – 9th February 2007
  9. Asymetrical Men ‘Are a Turn-Off’ – 16th August 2005
  10. Dominant Men ‘Smell Attractive‘ – 6th July 2005
  11. Sniffing Out Potential Partners – 10th May 2005
  12. Scent ‘Restores Youthful Allure‘ – 27th January 2005
  13. Hourglass Figure Fertility Link – 4th May 2004
  14. Women Slate Rivals To Win a Mate – 18th February 2004
  15. Study Reveals World’s Most Jealous Men – 7th July 2003
  16. Women Look at Men’s Cheeky Bits – 2nd July 2003
  17. Pill Changes Women’s Taste In Men – 20th January 2003
  18. Infidelity ‘is in the Genes’ – 30th October 2002
  19. Jealous Types ‘Have Different Sized Feet’ – 21st August 2002
  20. Women’s Choice of Men Goes in Cycles – 24th June 1999
  21. Sex Keeps You Young – 10th March 2009
  22. The Magic of Sexual Attraction – 16th December 1998
  23. Infidelity ‘is Natural’ – 25th September 1998
  24. Passionate Sex Aids Pregnancy – 9th September 1998

I should mention at this point that these links are crazy-making. I myself have spent 3 days trying to complete this post, because effectively playing multiple games of EvoPsych Bingo makes your brain melt. I do not recommend looking at them all at once if you have had a bad day. In fact, I don’t recommend it if you’ve had a really good day either, because afterwards you will feel as though you’d had a bad day. They are that bad. If you don’t feel up to dealing with the crazy, I will put up another post soon which is merely angry-making, and hope that that makes you feel better.

Also, I’ve tried sarcastic, I’ve tried studious, I’ve tried plain old enraged, but to be honest, there’s only one way I feel I can finish this post:

I very nearly got the whole bingo card

Thanks go to punkass blog, where the bingo card originated.

*I wholeheartedly reccomend reading the The Myth of Mars and Venus, which is both thoughtful and thought-provoking, and thank Kirsten for effectively inspiring this post – she bought me the book for my birthday!

Can everybody just stop please?

For anyone who doesn’t possess a TV, the internet or happen to glance at the covers of tabloids, Susan Boyle is a 48 year old Scottish woman who appeared on Britain’s Got Talent and became an overnight internet sensation, with her performance being viewed over 2 million times in one  night.

Why, exactly, has this video been so popular? Apparently, it is the ‘discrepancy’ between her voice, and her FACE. Oh yes. What? Were you not aware that (subjective) attractiveness is VITAL to the pleasing functioning of one’s vocal chords?

Here is some news: some people can sing. Susan Boyle is a person. She can sing. Thrilling news.

‘With her ghastly frock, wedge of frizzy hair and cowboy-like gait, Susan Boyle surprised us all’. DID she now? Is it really newsworthy that an ‘unconventional looking’ woman can sing? Do you have to be stunningly attractive (by superficial standards, I might add) in order for your vocal chords to work?

I cannot stand it.

The only ‘news’ part of this story is that it is still ‘news’. It is frankly upsetting that not only does the media and society judge people as unattractive solely on their looks, but judges these people as incompetent and untalented if these looks are not what are desired, BEFORE THEY HAVE EVEN OPENED THEIR MOUTHS. People sniggered as she walked on stage – just because of how she looked. When she declared a desire to be a famous singer, the laughing got louder. And when she began to sing – a fair performance – people gasped, Simon Cowell’s eyes bugged out of his head, Amanda Holden opened her mouth with joy, Ant and/or Dec exclaimed “weren’t expected that were ya?”

It’s pathetic.

Edit: Might I add, there was not nearly so much fuss when a fat middle aged BLOKE won the goddamn competition. Women’s worth is more than the sum of their looks.

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.