As the title suggests, I am a little late with last week’s news round up. Blame my lecturers, who seem determined to give me more work than there are hours in the day. Perhaps, as a maths student, they think I can simply manipulate the time, considering timekeeping to be simply another form of number-crunching. Perhaps they are right. Who knows. Bear with me for the next couple of weeks – I haven’t deserted the blog, honest.


Remember the cabbie who possessed “date-rape” drugs to go with his licensed taxi? Well, he’s come out with a couple of astounding pieces of crap in the course of his trial. Including “she told me she was a lesbian… and then we had oral sex”[paraphrased]. Does he think he was in his own porn film? He also claims that one of the women agreed to sex in exchange for money, but that they didn’t actually do anything. He seems to be going for the ‘path of least denial’ – keeping as close to the truth as possible, without actually admitting to rape. Let’s hope the jury see through it.

A couple of weeks ago, I also wrote about the woman who was arrested and jailed overnight after being unable to complete her evidence that she was giving as part of the trial of George Cummings. He’s now been given a 3.5 year jail sentence for the abuse of his two nieces. He was originally charged with attempted rape of one of the girls (now women), but this was reduced to a charge of sexual assault. The rape charge that led to the woman’s arrest was dropped, and another two allegations that he molested other girls in the same period were found “not proven” by the jury. This trial, of course, was using Scotland’s woefully outdated rape laws, which makes me root even more strongly for the new laws to come into force. I don’t know whether it would or could have changed the outcome, but for sure it couldn’t have hurt.

Other sexual offense laws that could probably do with changing are those that Northern Ireland work with. A man who filmed a teenaged girl undressing in a cubicle next to his at a leisure centre was initially not charged because:

“his victim was wearing a bikini. Because of this it was decided she was not engaged in a private act according to the Sexual Offences Act.”

I would try emphasising this, but I’d have to highlight the whole fucking thing. Seriously? Some douchebag can film me without my consent over a private cubicle and as long as he doesn’t get a flash of nipple, it’s not counted as a “private act”?! Well, I’ll just start changing in the middle of clothes shops, then, shall I? After all, I’ll keep my underwear on – I’ll be just as covered as this young woman was.

He was eventually convicted of “attempted voyeurism”. Four month’s jail sentence, suspended for two years, plus seven years on the Sex Offenders’ Register.

That story unfortunately segues quite neatly into the next, which is about the uniforms that female staff on National Express trains are refusing to wear.

“The outfits were “simply too thin and too cheap”, making them virtually “see-through”, the Transport Salaried Staffs Association (TSSA) has claimed. The blouses, given to more than 500 women who work on the East Coast Main Line, have been sent back to the firm.”

National Express are on the one hand dismissing the claims, and on the other saying that they are “investing in their staff”. Little tip from me, National Express: try listening to your staff. And also, I know what “standard shirt designs” from catalogues can look like. Thin and cheap are the least of your worries when the shirts are designed to show off the belly button of any woman who actually has breasts. Seriously. Listen to your staff. They’ll only appropriate the male uniform if you don’t, and then you’ll lose money.

A mostly-nice story to finish today, because my period is fast approaching, and I like to remind myself what it means that I have them: specifically, a lack of pregnancy, which is good. Although it does mean that I can’t draw pictures on my stomach like this woman. The article starts with the headless torso, as per usual, but in this case I think I’ll forgive it as the story was specifically about the body art. I would like to draw attention to the final paragraphs, though.

“Some women probably don’t see the appeal of taking a photo of their huge, distorted bellies, especially with Michelin-style stretch-marks, veiny skin and wonky belly buttons.

On the other hand, most of us are secretly proud that our body, which we constantly condemn for being too big, too small, too fat, etc etc, is suddenly building, feeding and protecting a new human being. So why not add a lick of paint and some colour?

And when post-natal normality kicks in and we squeeze our dieted, buffed and vain selves back into our size 10 (okay, maybe size 12) jeans, how nice it is to have a memento of that maternal, all-powerful, precious time.”

What a mish-mash. We’ve got some full-on pregnant-body shaming going on here – “distorted”, “veiny”, “wonky” – as though all women are naturally perfectly symmetrical anyway! – tempered partially with a little conditional pride. It’s very much a backhanded compliment, since it seems we ladies should only be proud of our bodies for their capacity to reproduce. Except you’ve got to make sure that you’re suitably embarressed by the physical effects of said reproductive capacity. *sigh*. And what’s with being “secretly” proud? How about you just be proud? Of your body generally, if possible. This all rounded up with some fun fat-shaming for good measure. Plus the assumption that every woman diets. I object. And just after having a baby is no time to be dieting. (Also, please bear in mind, any US readers, that although 12 might be a “large” (ha!) size in the States, over here, the average size is 16. As a skinny teenager with no arse, I wore size 10 jeans.)

This is a shame, as it could have been a perfectly nice story. Still, I can choose to take away the only the idea of painting bright colours on by big belly, and will stubbornly ignore the less kindly messages.

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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