It’s a Bank Holiday here in sunny England, which means that I have a decent excuse for being late with my Weekend News-Surfing. The other decent excuse is, of course, that this is the first real day off I’ve had since Sunday last week – that is, seven days ago. Hence the strange thinking. Remember, children, the 48-hour working time directive was put in for a reason: so that temps could opt out of it! Of course, I jest. I haven’t opted out of it, per se – I just study full-time and temp to make sure I can eat each week. The total is more than 48 hours’ work, let me tell you. Especially once you include housework in the mix. Which I reckon I can do, because if I were doing it for someone else it would be considered work. Anyway. My financial and temporal predicament (i.e, not enough hours in the day) is not the concern of this site. So, to business:

Samantha Orobator, who has been imprisoned in Laos since August 2008, is now five months pregnant and facing death by firing squad for allegedly entering the country with 1.5lb of heroin. The question that has either not been asked or answered is, of course, how did she end up pregnant whilst in prison? Given that “British Embassy officials, including the Ambassador, have visited Miss Orobator a total of six times since her arrest… limited to a period of about 20 minutes once a month“, I rather doubt that any kind of significant other would have had more luck seeing her. Time will tell.

Continuing the theme of pregnancy stories I wish hadn’t happened, a woman in Dubai has been found guilty of manslaughter after she was involved in a traffic accident, nine months pregnant, which caused the death of her foetus. I’ve seen arguments about the criminalisation of abortion, and what that might lead to, and this story is one of those things. I wish with all my heart that this had stayed a hypothetical argument.

Moving on, I have a strange feeling of deja-vu: “These kind of incidents, in such a busy area, are very rare, however I would like to reinforce personal safety advice for women in the area, not to walk alone during the hours of darkness and to contact police if they feel threatened at any time“. Such are the words of wisdom of Det Insp Andy Cunliffe, after an 18 year old woman was raped behind a pub in Bolton. I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again. That’s not fucking helpful. Women go out. True story. Some women work in pubs. Also true. What do you think they should do, sleep in the pub till morning? What if they’re raped in the pub? And does anybody else remember this story? The one where the police ignored that woman who repeated told them she was afraid that she’d be killed? Remember how she ended up dead?

The BBC have also got hold of the story about the 17 year old Australian boy, Alex, who has got permission from the courts to have a double mastectomy. Catholic groups are predictably outraged, but he’s also been taking hormone treatment to prevent menstruation, which I think probably counts as “birth control”. Why they’re outraged about the breast removal and not that, I can’t fathom. At least the BBC got the pronouns right, even if they did start the article by calling Alex a girl. Beppie over at Hoyden About Town is suitably enraged with one of the less considerate Australian publications for not managing to grasp this rather simple concept.

Finishing up for the evening, I’ve got one good piece of entertainment news, one bad. Bad would be Andrew Sachs thanking Jonathan Ross and Russell Brand for “raising his profile“. Good to know that a nasty, spiteful act of misogyny doesn’t matter when fame’s involved, even if it was regarding his granddaughter. So much for the old “but what if it was your [insert female relative here]?!” argument.

Good news, which isn’t really news, but pleases me, is Carol Ann Duffy becoming Poet Laureate. And saying that she’ll give away the money, but she wants the butt of sack (600 bottles of Sherry) upfront. That is many kinds of awesome. And I have fond memories of my notoriously grumpy English Lit teacher reading Frau Freud aloud, realising that not one of her 17-year-old students would be persuaded to read a list of synonyms for “penis”. Especially not when that list included “love-muscle”.

Well, Easter is over, and I’ve got no excuse for not going News-Surfing.Does it surprise you to learn that I wasn’t best pleased with what I found? It seems that every time I bow out of popular culture, each return to it is always more painful than the last. It’s like drinking a double shot of vodka after being teetotal for a couple of months, only without the pleasing tipsiness, and with twice the headache. On that note, I hereby refuse to watch The Apprentice ever again. Last year, their habit of calling the women “girls” annoyed me. This year, the infuriating stereotypes involving women and cleaning made me yell epithets at my laptop and stop watching after 10 minutes.

So, without further ado:


Five women have died in unrelated incidents all over the UK. Strangely, nobody seems to care.

  • Claire Atkinson, 33, was found stabbed to death in a car in Lancashire that crashed whilst trying to overtake. The as yet unnamed, 52-year-old male occupant of the car is being treated for head injuries but has been arrested on suspicion of murder.
  • Stephanie Parker, 22, was found hanged in Wales. The article doesn’t explicitly say so, but the tone of the piece makes me suspect that the death is being treated as suicide.
  • An unnamed woman, 62, was found dead in Maidstone. A 61-year-old man has been arrested, with police appealing for information.
  • An “elderly” woman may have been dead in her home for over a year. Police are trying to trace her relatives.
  • Another unnamed woman, 34, was found dead in a property in North Wales. It’s currently an “unexplained” death, until the pathologist’s report comes back.

Two women have been raped, one in Essex after the man tried to steal her bicycle, and one in Glasgow. No surprises here that both rapes were “stranger rapes”, and no surprise either that we’ve got a story of a woman being attacked by a black man who had already marked himself as criminal. Further, since “whiteness” is the default in the BBC – which you can work out for yourself when you ask yourself whose races are emphasised, and whose are not – we can assume that the woman was white. Need I point out that we’re looking at stereotypes here?

On a similar note, the second woman was described as “uninjured but badly shaken” by police, which to me says nothing about the woman and everything about the male police officer making the report. Or perhaps it’s a failing of official language, which minimises the effect of rape. Perhaps both. I have never been raped. I don’t want to speak for anybody. Besides, they speak for themselves in the Shakesville Survivor Thread.


Moving away from the subjects of violence, because too much reading of that kind of thing makes me want to crawl into a corner, I’ve found some stories that push buttons ranging from “minor annoyance” and “frustration with the patriarchy” to “incandescent fury”.


Minor annoyance says “many unaware of alcohol calories“. This is a problem, not because drinking in any quantity is likely to make you not want to eat (thereby depriving you of actual nutrients if you do it too often), but, predictably, because of the Obesity Crisis (TM). Heather Caswell, from the British Nutrition Foundation, is quoted as saying:

“Most people would baulk at consuming a full glass of single cream, but wouldn’t think twice about a couple of pints. But the calorie content is similar and, over time, excess alcohol intake is likely to lead to weight gain.”

Hey, Heather – you know what else leads to weight gain over time? Time! Amazing, isn’t it!

Also, of course you’d baulk at the idea of drinking a glass of single cream. That would be because it’s not meant to be drunk. On the other hand, if I poured that glass of single cream over some smoked salmon trimmings, heated it through and served it with pasta, black pepper and brown bread, I bet you’d eat it (barring vegetarianism, allergies or difference in taste). Ironically, this article about the Obesity Crisis (TM) has made me want to eat cream. I’m sure that’s not the effect they were going for.


Frustration with the patriarchy would be this story: “female hairiness health warning“. In a similar vein to the alcohol = obesity panic above, female hairiness is a problem because, well, who likes women to be hairy? The report’s author, Dr. Swingler, is reported to have said that the condition “is distressing and can be particularly upsetting for young women”. Presumably, that would be because young women have a duty to remain hairless and “sexy” at all times, as opposed to older women, who are only useful in the role of asexual mothers or mother-substitutes. Shockingly enough, this attitude is not expanded upon.

As it happens, hirstutism can be a sign of PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome) which may also affect a woman’s fertility. The cynic in me says that it’s not at all surprised that this story has been picked up on, given the number of ways in which it relates to women’s ability to attain their feminine stereotypes.


Lastly, in the “incandescent rage” pile, would be the news that Carol Thatcher is still as offensive as she was last time

I wrote about her, if not more so. I suppose this is where we see the intersectionalities of privilege – she may be a woman, but she’s white, and moneyed, and clearly used to people listening to her. This combines into a truly revolting “interview”, which becomes little more than a platform for Thatcher to say that her collection of golliwog fridge magnets (I can’t believe they’re even made!) has gone up, due to racist well-wishers sending them to her. Oh, and political correctness – apparently it needs “some common sense injected to it”. This from a woman who is breathtakingly rude, and clearly has no common sense. Because, you know, common sense would suggest that it’s not a good idea, after having the bleedin’ obvious pointed out (you know, that “golliwog” is a fucking rude thing to call anybody), to claim that you used it “in a context”.

Yeah, that context would be that you, as a white woman, used a racist epithet to refer to a tennis player in conversation with a white man. That doesn’t make it better. And your explanation at the time, that you “made a light aside about this tennis player and his similarity to the golliwog on the jam pot”, that doesn’t make it better either. You know, because there’s that undercurrent of “ha! Black men, they all look the same, amirite?!”. That would be a racist comment, right there, regardless of what your spokesman said. Oh, and also – for a comment supposedly “made in jest” – it wasn’t fucking funny.

I don’t think I actually expected her to understand that what she did was wrong. Not really. But I never expected her to try to defend them a second time around. That’s not just cluelessness, that’s smacking-you-in-the-face-privilege. I should probably say at this point that Boris Johnson was vocal in his support of her. Not that that will come as any great shock to anybody. But of course, America has a black president now, so presumably we’re living in a post-racist world. I have to wonder whether Carol Thatcher would have refered to him as a “golliwog”.


Well! On that cheery note, I’m ending this weeks’ thrilling instalment. Join me next week, when no doubt there will be more for us all to get annoyed about.

What. The. Fuck?

In the search terms table today: “racism is funny”.


For whoever came here by searching for that, I have a short answer and a long answer.

Short answer: Fuck you, you nasty, malicious, pointless pile of excrement.


Long answer: No, it isn’t, douchebag. It isn’t, it never has been and it never will be. Why? Because people have died, and continue to die because of it. Needlessly and horrifically. Racism is never funny, like sexism and ablism and ageism are never funny, like homophobia and transphobia and xenophobia are never funny, like any other form of discrimination that I’ve missed are never funny, becauseĀ  people have died.


  • An Indian man, Gregory Fernandes, was killed in a racist attack in 2007. His attackers pleaded guilty to manslaughter in February this year.
  • A 62 year-old disabled woman, Jennifer Macaree, was left to die in her car after she was stabbed repeatedly. This was just two weeks ago.
  • A transwoman, Robyn Browne, was murdered in 1997 , while she was working as a prostitute. Her alleged murderer, James Hopkins, is pleading not guilty.
  • Michael Causer, a gay teenager, was battered to death in July last year. James O’Connor has pleaded guilty to his murder.


And that is such a tiny sample of the people that discrimination has targeted. Those people were all in the UK, and I have only used stories that appeared this year. I haven’t even begun to touch on the stories of people who have been attacked for not being white-able-heterosexual-males that survived. I haven’t even begun to talk about rape. I haven’t begun to talk about all of the people in other countries who have been targeted for being seen as “deviant”. I haven’t – because I can’t – talked about those people who have been killed, or attacked, or harrassed, whose stories haven’t made it into the news.

So many people have been hurt over the years, so many lives have been destroyed. So many of these victims will go unnoticed, unnamed, because this is so common. Because they’re not interesting enough to the mainstream (white-able-heterosexual-male) media. It happens to them because they are who they are. And then their experiences are not recognised, because they are who they are.

How is that in any way funny?

I wouldn’t normally jump on a bandwagon, but I tend to trust Melissa McEwan’s viewpoint, and what I’ve readĀ  and watched today about the murder of Oscar Grant is sick.

Californian police shot Oscar Grant, a black man, who was sitting peacefully and doing as he was asked.

Remember the Jean Charles de Menezes shooting? Remember how that was another man racially stereotyped into death? Remember how any oppression of any minority group affects every other minority group? Remember how racial stereotyping means that police can “mistake” a 12 year-old black girl for a prostitute – because that’s what they think a prostitute should look like, a black child.

This is so wrong. So very, very wrong.

And because it is wrong, please, everybody who reads this, make a fuss. If you’re American, do these things. If you’re not, post it up on your own blog so that people hear about it.

I’m not black, and I’m not Brazillian, and I’m not American, and I’m certainly not a man. But this kind of thing affects everybody. It even affects the white, middle-class, moneyed, able-bodied, heterosexual, cissexual men I know, the ones so full of privillege they ooze it from every pore. Why? Because just as I don’t exist in a vacuum, nor do they. And, logically, every single one of those men knows me. And I’m not “one of them”. Which makes me a combination of “others”. Which makes me directly affected by anything like these stories, and makes them indirectly affected, through me. Very few men like this will exist in a world that purely consists of other men just like them. I would suggest that no man does. And so, at the risk of labouring the point, this kind of thing affects everybody. And it’s horrific.

Cross-posted.