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Month: August 2012

Should councillors get expenses tied to the average annual salary of their ward?

Claire Bibby thinks so. Who is Claire Bibby I hear you ask and why should we care what she thinks? Well she was an independent candidate in May for the Southchurch ward here in Southend and she got just beaten out in the last result of the evening. Well she has blogged on councillors expenses and you can read her views here but for those who can’t be bothered it is basically attacking councillors for having too many expenses and with a focus on the portfolio holders. Fair enough one might think but one thing really stood out to me:

The Tax Payers Alliance will be investigating councillors expenses, as the Tax Payers Alliance believe the expenses given to councillors are far too much, and the role of the local councillors is about providing a community service and should not come with expenses more than the average salary of the area they represent.

Err…come again?

So councillors in a more prosperous area such as say Thorpe Bay where both Claire and myself live and we can be honest here – the councillors do not have anywhere near as many issues as say Kursaal or Westborough councillors but councillors here in Thorpe Bay should be paid more than the Kursaal or Westborough councillors? That is to be frank a very scary proposition in my eyes. Why should councillors expenses be tied to the average salary that they represent? It would be saying that some councillors are worth more money than others – and whilst that is probably true as some councillors do work far harder than others – it should not be linked to the area that they represent and certainly not the councillors in richer areas having a larger expenses packet.

Expenses are there to ensure that councillors are not out of pocket for work they do linked to their council work. So for example help with travel costs going to see people, phone calls and the like. Now I don’t think I’m shocking anyone here when I say that councillors in certain areas have more work than others. There are more issues in certain areas. That is just the way it is but to link the average annual salary to their expenses allowances? Madness.

Councillors expenses should be scrutinised closely but councillors should not be out of pocket for work that they do. A councillor knows that they are going to give up time for their council work – that is part of the deal but they don’t need to be spending money out of their pocket. They get an allowance to cover these costs therefore they shouldn’t be out of pocket. If you change the way these calculations are made then you’ll get councillors trying to get the ‘premier’ wards financially and possibly leaving the less well-of wards with councillors who won’t work as hard and put the hours in because they’ll be out of pocket – and that is a scary thought.

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A cream that makes a woman’s vagina ‘feel like a virgin’ again – I expected more uproar/debate…

I have flicked through Lib Dem Blogs and I can’t believe that no-one has blogged about the new vagina cream that tightens the vagina yet. It is a real story it was on the good old BBC. Of course they may have blogged about it when it first hit the news-wire in early August but I don’t recall seeing it anywhere there. I was forwarded the link yesterday asking for my views and I must say my initial reaction was that I didn’t know what to think. I certainly wanted to know what others thought of it though.

I think I’ll start with the advert…


Now I’m no expert in sex and what surrounds it but I’m pretty sure no daughter is going to dance around in front of their parents singing about how they feel like a virgin thanks to taking a new cream that tightens up their vagina. That just doesn’t seem to be what a daughter would do. I might of course be wrong but I think I’m got this one right.

As for whether the cream works well that is also a worrying aspect. I’m pretty sure anything that involves making changes to the muscles in the vagina area is probably not a healthy thing. So is this cream just a placebo or does it actually make changes to a woman’s lady parts?

Lastly this cream is clearly not aimed at women. It is aimed at men to get their partners to use it and make the whole experience more pleasurable for them. The women that I know well enough to have talked this over with have all basically said the same thing – it hurts the first time. None of them would go back to having sex in that same scenario so this cream is not for the women to enjoy the experience more. It is for the men.

Of course this isn’t just a physical thing as it is also a society thing. In India where the cream is out now the average age that women are losing their virginity has gone from 22.9 to just 19 in just the past twelve years. That is a pretty big change and shows that changes are going on but the question is whether attitudes are changing as well. That I am not sure but having a cream that will make you feel like a virgin again. I’m just not too sure about that.

A couple of people that I have talked to about this say it is no big deal and one said that it was ‘just like buying anti-wrinkle cream’.

I just don’t know what to think but I am sure there are some hefty opinions out there one way or the other…

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It is time to announce my retirement from the world of online dating

I’m surprised I didn’t call a press conference and/or issue a press release on this but I have actually had a few people ask me what the latest was with my online dating adventures that I have blogged about previously. Well there is news but the retirement is not because of any great success. I have watched many people that I know have success in the online dating world and that has been heart-warming. I have seen these people say they are the happiest they have ever been thanks to online dating. However things have not exactly been the same for me and a few weeks ago I threw the white towel in mentally and this evening profiles were deleted.

Now this of course isn’t me throwing in the towel of ever being in a relationship. It is more a concession that maybe online dating isn’t for me. I am one of those people who is better in the flesh than I am online or in photographic form. I’m not exactly what you’d call full of the old self-confidence but heck I have been known to look in the mirror whilst cleaning my teeth or washing my hands or having a shave or whatever and think to myself ‘not bad, not bad…’ and I don’t think I have ever thought that after seeing a photograph of myself. I am not photogenic. Which is a problem in the online dating world.

As for describing myself and making me sound interesting. Yeah… I work from home, live alone, have a fruit and herb patio which I am super proud of. I do hospital radio, commentate on football, blog my life and thoughts pretty publicly and have a rather large interest in politics. I don’t drink and I don’t exactly go out much. Heck looking at me on paper I wouldn’t want to get to know me. So maybe it is no surprise that I’m not ticking boxes.

At this point I’d like to point out that on the flip-side I’m a guy who most people who get to know me quite like. Whether they fancy me is of course a very different kettle of fish but most think I’m a decent guy. At times apparently I fall down in my ‘manliness’ as I’m a beta male and let other people make decisions. I can make decisions about myself easy enough but when it comes to others I’m very laid back. A lot of women I have ‘met’ or should I say communicated with prefer a guy who makes decisions and takes charge, which is a surprise as I thought women didn’t want that any more but in my years of attempting to date it seems the opposite is true. I think relationships should be equal with both members leaning on each other to get the most out of things. This might not be the majority view.

Most of all though the reason why I have retired from this is because I don’t enjoy it. I do not enjoy the dating game and when you can’t even get dates then the dating game is even less fun. This year I have not had what you’d call a quote/unquote ‘first date’ and it showed no sign of changing. Since I moved into my apartment just over two years ago I have had a grand total of four proper first dates. An average of one every six months. It really isn’t worth the hassle.

So online dating is now in my rear view mirror. If something happens with someone then it’ll either be through someone I already know or someone I meet via a different medium than internet dating. Everyone has a different piece of advice as for whether you should put yourself out there and look or it’ll happen when you aren’t looking at all. I am sort of been in-between the two for a long long time but now I’m moving towards the latter of the two.

Deep down I have always hoped that a relationship would be a natural progression of a friendship I had with someone. I think being friends first is a good platform for a relationship. I know others may disagree but a friendship forms a bond that goes beyond physical attraction. I have always – and I do mean always – said that the most important thing for me in a potential partner is to enjoy spending time with them. As a self-proclaimed loner knowing that I’d like to spend time with someone over watching a plethora of live sport says a lot to me. Online dating doesn’t really create those opportunities as it is basically if you/them don’t fancy each other from the get go then you/them don’t want to know each other.

To round-up my online dating statistics. I think I have had seven or eight dates although to be honest that sounds low so I may be forgetting one or two. These numbers do not include people I have met/dated from IRC as that would add a few names to the list or from other websites that aren’t strictly ‘dating’ websites. Out of these only two did I have more than one date with. Not an awful ratio but nothing stellar either. One of those two it should be pointed out I had a second date with the day after she met another guy who subsequently she dated for four years so not sure if that really counts…

We’ll see what happens but I’m happy I have closed the book on my online dating attempts. Deep down I hoped to just meet people but you forget that most other people are seemingly looking for ‘the one’ and I don’t think I was. Maybe that is why things didn’t work. So now I look to see what happens. Whilst my hopes of leaving the single world aren’t what I’d call going on the backburner but I’m not going to worry about it and just let life take its course. No more forcing it. Forcing (or attempting to force it) wasn’t working and wasn’t making me happy. It just frustrated me. Just kicking back and seeing what happens is the way forward.

I think the only thing I’ll miss is good blogging material. Now that bit I did enjoy…

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Prince Harry did nothing wrong whereas The Sun did everything wrong.

Unsurprisingly I was truly disgusted at The Sun for their decision to publish the Prince Harry photos. Not a few hours earlier had I been praising the UK media for their handling of the situation and not showing photos of him naked. It was a clear invasion of privacy and even though it was out there the UK media had no need to go down the same path. Then of course a certain newspaper broke ranks and decided that they had to do so because it was in the public interest. Public interest trumps privacy but was this really in the public interest?

The newspaper say that they published the photos so that everyone could be informed about them and then we can have a proper debate about them. Well they are the words that came out of their mouth but all I heard was, ‘we knew people would buy our newspaper if we had a naked photo of Prince Harry on the front so we decided we didn’t give a shit and just wanted to enhance our circulation figures.’

Some believe that even in private Prince Harry has to do things in a certain way. Look at Paul Walter from his post on the subject:

Of course we have a right to see publicly available evidence of his behaviour. Of course he has to uphold certain standards even in private. And, of course we should be able judge for ourselves as to whether that behaviour is compatible with his position as 3rd in line to be head of state and as a commissioned officer in the British Army.

Someone who is the third in line to the throne, holding an officer’s rank in the army, should not strip naked with random girls.

As far as I’m aware no-one was stopping anyone viewing these photos online. Everyone has to uphold certain standards even in private but these are mostly ‘don’t break the law’ as who cares what people do in private as long as it isn’t against the law. You know what? Playing strip billiards is as far as I’m aware not against the law either in the UK or in Nevada. So a guy gets naked in his own hotel room. Who gives a crap. Just because he is third in line to the throne does that mean he can’t play strip billiards? Is it ok if I played strip billiards? Does anyone want to play strip billiards with me? I don’t have a billiards table though so does anyone want to play strip putting the dishes in the dishwasher with me? Sounds like a fun game, no?

I couldn’t disagree with Paul more about that final sentence. Who cares if a guy strips naked with some random girls. I mean seriously. If David Cameron wants to get down and give Tory HQ a pole dance behind closed doors I wouldn’t give a stuff (although I would be bizarrely interested to see how it went down) but I’d have no rights to view any evidence.

That is where the difference is. The public interest is very different to ‘would interest the public.’ Most things that go on in private would interest the public. However privacy is something we all deserve as long as we aren’t breaking the law of the land. A Tory MP Damian Collins tweeted, ‘Harry is a senior royal so there’s clear public interest in the Vegas pics. If this had been another public figure there would be no debate.‘. He gets the public interest and would interest the public thing muddled up. If Mr Collins MP partied at a private party at his home then would he think the photos would be in the public interest if any of them turned out to show him in a less than stellar fashion?

Talk of MPs we move on to another Tory MP – well is she an MP? She quit but she won’t leave and we are talking Louise Mensch. She told the Today programme that she chilled that the Palace had asked the media not to publish the photo and that she hoped the press would stand up for their rights. Basically she’s down with invasion of privacy. It is all good as long as she gets a good look at Harry’s todger.

Teachers and parents used to always say things like ‘just because Tom is doing such and such doesn’t mean that you should’ and this is the point here. Just because the American media and other worldwide publications think that they can make a bit of money by invading someone’s privacy it doesn’t mean that you should. The Sun broke ranks and showed that they were happy to get in the gutter as long as they had plenty of company they could use to justify their decision to jump right in.

They have showed their true colours but deep down we all knew what they were like. Prince Harry has done nothing either illegal or immoral and yet he is being dragged through the mud. The Sun have tried to legitimise their decision but deep down it was all about money and exposure (excuse the pun) and heck it sold them a few more newspapers than usual and got them high on all the news bulletins for 24 hours. I hope that it was worth it as selling your soul and decency to me is a rather heavy price to pay…

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Why I am a feminist and support feminism – but struggle with radical feminism

Feminism is described on as thus, ‘the doctrine advocating social, political, and all other rights of women equal to those of men.’ On the bastion that is modern day sourcing it is described as, ‘Feminism is a collection of movements and ideologies aimed at defining, establishing, and defending equal political, economic, and social rights for women. In addition, feminism seeks to establish equal opportunities for women in education and employment. A feminist is “an advocate or supporter of the rights and equality of women.”‘

So I think it is fair to say that feminism is mainly about equality and getting on an equal footing with men in social, economic and political way. Have I got that right?

Well I know I have but a lot of people think I don’t understand feminism so I thought I’d ask the question.

So in essence if you believe in equality then you are a feminist. Now I don’t think I’m stretching the envelope too much here to say that the vast majority of people actually believe in equality. Of course there are many who do not but if you asked 100 men whether they thought men and women should be treated differently around their friends then many would say that they should. If you asked 100 men that on twitter then some no doubt would say that they should. However if you asked 100 men that same question in front of their mothers then that number would significantly drop. Sadly playing up when no-one is around to call you on it is an issue some men have.

The difference in answering and acting does often depend who you are around. Your actual beliefs won’t change but what you say might. We all know men and women who act differently around their parents than they do around their friends. That is I think fair to say only natural. However acting different and being a different person with different core beliefs and values are two very different things. Personally I strongly believe that people don’t change – they just change the way they act to fit in with who they are around.

Hopefully I have now established my personal point of view that people are who they are but often they don’t give a true representation of themselves. This is of course a personal belief and not one that everyone may agree with but I certainly think it is a valid viewpoint and not one borne out from my naive male ideas.

So now we get back to the title of the blog. If feminism is solely about generating equality in all those circles then of course I am a feminist but of course it isn’t just that. Is feminism about equality or is it about generating equal opportunities? That is the big one for me. That is the sticking point and that is the place where I fall down.

As a firm believing that I couldn’t care less who my doctor was whether it was a he or a she or something in between. Whether they were white or black or Asian or African. I don’t care. If I get hit by a car I want the most qualified person to be operating on me on the operating table. The same goes for my stockbroker (if I had one) or my councillor or my MP or the PM I don’t care about their backgrounds I just want the best person for the job. This would also be true if my girlfriend/wife (should they ever exist) and if they got pregnant (that would I’m told involve ‘the sex’) and went into labour then I wouldn’t care if a man or a woman was the midwife. I wouldn’t care. Best person for the job. Same with female football referees. If they are good enough then I don’t care. Male refs make a tonne of mistakes as no doubt would female ones. As long as they got the majority right then I wouldn’t care.

At this point I’d like to link to a piece by Louise Shaw. Seemingly and crudely dolloped in the middle of a sentence here in the link.

Here is the opening paragraph:

Last Friday I wrote a post about how I thought feminism was becoming mainstream. Julian Assange, George Galloway, Todd Akin and others all combined to convince me it really wasn’t, or else it’s job was far from over.

Now I’ll respond to that. You have a guy that is deluded and living in his own wikileaks bubble and can’t see the wood for the trees. You have a person who actually won a landslide election victory despite being an idiot and a moron all making stupid comments. Do they alone speak for the mainstream? Those three people could all not like doughnuts or football but would that alone mean that doughnuts and football were not mainstream? To be fair to Louise she also says others but you will never find 100% uniformity behind anything. Heck there are millions of people around the world who still believe an omnipotent being created the universe. Millions also believe the moon landings were faked. You even have thousands who believe that the souls of billions of aliens live inside of all of us. You’ll even find some who think that George Osbourne is a competent Chancellor of the Exchequer. Not everyone will agree on everything and because three ‘high profile’ people are various reasons said/believe stupid things does that really change anything?

Speaking of changing anything I just want to briefly reference the #menagainstrape hashtag again on twitter. Just want to put the question of there of what did it actually do? I know I have blogged about it earlier in the week but really what did it do? With every man who tweeted that they were against rape did that mean that there is one fewer rapist out there? If someone has tweeted that they are against rape does this preclude them from ever being a rapist? It is a platinum plated take it to the bank guarantee? With every person that came out and on twitter proclaimed that they were against rape did it warm the cockles of women’s heart and make them have more faith in men one person at a time? If so that means that these people have the default belief that men are not against rape. I struggle to believe that anyone deep down actually thinks this. Anyone. So again what exactly did this hashtag do again?

It is time to step on to extremely dodgy ground. I recall one Lib Dem PPC telling me that if I ever wanted to get into politics to never talk about rape. Rape is not a subject where any debate is allowed. However I’m an eejit so I’m opening up that can of worms. A lot – and when I say a lot I really mean everyone pretty much – agrees that rape is rape. I do not. Let me explain.

All rape – whether it be in a marriage or whilst someone is asleep is despicable and disgusting. All rape pretty much will leave exactly the same physical scaring but not all rape with leave the same mental scaring. If a rapist breaks into your house and rapes you then it is an awful act and one that you will struggle to get over. If a rapist breaks into your house and rapes you whilst holding a knife to your throat telling you that he is going to kill you if you don’t do everything that they say then the mental scaring will not be the same. If someone breaks into your home, rounds up your children and ties them up in the basement and pours petrol over them and drags you down to the basement and keeps flicking their lighter telling you that they’ll burn them alive if you don’t let him do as they say then again surely that is going to produce a different set of mental scaring?

The physical act may be the same but rape is not just about the physical act – it is about everything else. I am not going to argue that one is less evil than the other (although I think that argument could be made) what I am saying is different rapes result in different mental scaring for the victims. Again I reiterate my point that all rape is despicable and disgusting but not all attacks are equal.

Ok that might be the most dodgy ground I walk over in this blog post. I’m glad it is out of the way. Next up one of my biggest issues with sexism/feminism is that many things that are not sexist are loudly declared as such by people always looking to find something to moan about. Take the Olympics closing ceremony. Twitter exploded when the Men’s Marathon Medal Ceremony was during the closing ceremony. It was ‘blatantly sexist’ because it happened. This wasn’t just one or two people saying this. This was a distinct calling of many people that I follow. I said I despaired that people thought it was sexist and got a lot of pretty vicious comments back saying I knew nothing.

Now my knowledge of sexism is that it is prejudicial or discrimination based on a person’s gender. So was having a medal ceremony in the closing ceremony prejudiced against women or does it discriminate against them? I just don’t see how it does. The Men’s Marathon was on the final day of the Games – as it traditionally has always been and that is why it is the one event that has its medal ceremony during the closing ceremony. In the winter games traditionally it is the Men’s 50KM cross-country ski that has its medal ceremony in the closing ceremony. Yet again a male event. Is it sexist or is it because it is the longest event in the games?

So what would make it better? Having two medal ceremonies – one for men and one for women in the closing ceremony? That would be equal but also would they want to hold the women’s marathon at the same time as the men’s instead of on another day? Maybe the discrimination is that women are not allowed to race in the men’s race and therefore are not given the opportunity to be on the medal podium at the closing ceremony. If that is the case then obviously the only way forward is to scrap the women’s marathon as well as the men’s and have just one marathon. The problem with that obvious is…

No woman would ever get near the medal podium. Never. End.

Oh noes that is sexist recoils the minds of those still bothering to read but something needs to be said. Men and women are physically different. They have different chromosomes that make up their DNA. Men and women use different sides to their brain predominately. Women on average have a slower heartbeat to men. The pelvises of both genders are at different angles. The muscle groupings are different. At some point people have to realise this. If you look down the list of athletics World Records of events both men and women compete in then you’ll find zero of the female World Records are actually better than the male inequivalent

Lets just look at the 100m at the World Record is held by Florence Griffith-Joyner at 10.49s. Now to put this into perspective 82 men have broken the 10s barrier. 82. So 82 people have gone at least half a second faster than the fastest woman in history over just 100m. At marathon distance then the difference between the fastest man and the fastest woman in history is twelve minutes. At the 2012 Olympic Games the fastest woman would have finished 64th in a ‘mixed marathon’ race if you look at the times.

So if having the Men’s Marathon Medal Ceremony during the closing ceremony is sexist then the most logical way to ensure there is no discrimination is to scrap female sports and scrap the men’s too and just have one mixed event for all the sports. I think that kills off all the discrimination. It will also mean the amount of women that make the medal podium will dramatically fall but it is the only fair way to ensure no-one is discriminated against. It will stop all these women getting inspired and motivated but that is a small price to pay for equality is it not?

Of course I’m being facetious. I believe that there should be different events for both sexes in events where the physical differences result in the men naturally having an unfair advantage. So for events like snooker, darts I see no need for the two sexes to have different World Championships. In things like athletics, swimming then of course these sports need a men’s and a women’s category.

So to clear up whether having that medal ceremony in the closing ceremony was sexist or not. No it wasn’t. It was just a thing. The only way it could be deemed as sexist would be because women were not allowed to participate in that event because of their gender and the only way to get around that is to have a mixed marathon. That is the only way that is could not be deemed as sexist. Is that what we want?

Just now I was speaking of inspiring people. This is another bugbear of mine. I have read many feminists say they need inspirational women to inspire them and the next generation. Why can’t men inspire people? Did Ian Thorpe inspire both young boys and girls to swim in Sydney 2000? Did Michael Phelps not inspire young boys and girls to swim in 2008? Does Usain Bolt not inspire people to take up sprinting whether they have reproductive organs on the outside or on the inside?

As a man I can (and regularly am inspired) by women. Can women only get inspiration from other women? Now of course it is fair to say if you see someone just like you then you are more likely to be inspired by them but it not a prerequisite. I see so many people who call themselves proudly feminist list all the time the inspiration women but they never speak about men that inspire them. Surely these people are inspired by men as well so why don’t they say as such? Really annoys me that.

I think it is time to move on to an issue that I agree firmly with feminists – not just ideological feminists but also the real world feminists – on. Society looks differently upon men who sleep around and women who sleep around. That is an issue that they rightly bang on about because it is wrong that this is the way it is. If a guy sleeps with 50 girls then who cares. If a woman sleeps with 50 guys then who cares. That is my PoV and that is how it should be seen. People are individual and should be seen as such. It doesn’t matter what people do in their private life. There is no way that you should look at or treat a woman differently to a man if they have had the same level of sexual partners.

Time to move on from sex to the human body. Page 3 girls had long been a bugbear of feminists all over the world. They say it is sexist and exploiting women. Well they are right on the first part but wrong on the second. Let me explain why. It is sexist because men are discriminated against because of their gender. A man cannot be a Page 3 girl because of his gender. That is discriminating against someone based on their gender. Is it exploiting women? Well as for exploitation it is less black and white as it were:

The dictionary describes exploitation as such:

1. The act of employing to the greatest possible advantage: exploitation of copper deposits.
2. Utilization of another person or group for selfish purposes: exploitation of unwary consumers.
3. An advertising or a publicity program.

Well The Sun does employ Page 3 girls to the greatest possible advantage but surely all employers employ people that they deem would be to their greatest possible advantage? ITV didn’t hire Adrian Chiles for his smile – they hired him because they felt he would be a job for them better than anyone else they had on their books for example. Channel 4 have hired Clare Balding to front their Horse Racing coverage – are they exploiting the fact she’s very good at her job or are they hiring someone because they believe she’ll do the job well and potentially grow the audience?

So on that front I’m not sure.

Do The Sun utilise the Page 3 models for selfish purposes? Well yes but the Page 3 models also get something out of it. Basically money and exposure (excuse the pun). I don’t think the third description is applicable here. So basically the way I see it both parties get something that they want out of this arrangement. The girls get money and career exposure and the newspaper gets sales.

So yes it is sexist (but not for the reasons most believe) and as for exploitation – I can’t fall down on that side of the ledger because both parties make the deals with a free mind and no pressure. It is the same as grid-girls at the Formula 1. I remember a female cricket correspondent for the Daily Mirror blocking me on twitter when she tweeted of her despair that they exist and I replied that they chose to do it of their own free will. She not only blocked me but sent me some nice abuse afterwards. Classy.

Some women don’t like the fact that these opportunities are available and they feel they are demeaning to women yet other women enjoy these opportunities. Who am I or who is anyone to deny people all the opportunities that they desire? Surely that isn’t in the liberal spirit that many of us try to live by? If a woman wants to pose naked and someone wants to pay her what she wants for that then what is the problem? Should Page 3 girls be banned from selling their image in the newspaper for the greater good of women? That is a genuine question.

As for selling your body I’d just like it on the record that I am very much pro-prostitution for both men and women. I think street=prostitution should be made illegal but legal and licensed brothels are the way forward. These would be safe for both the person selling and buying. It would also make those pressured into prostitution less attractive to men as they know they can get it legally from another source. What man would risk arrest for buying a prostitute illegally when they could buy sex elsewhere legally? I think it should significantly slow down the illegal sex slave trade as these women being forced into it would not make as much money. That is an aside but it might also change people’s attitude towards sex. If a woman or a man wants to sell themselves for sex then I see no reason why they shouldn’t as long as their deeds to not interfere with anyone else.

I’d like to look at some of the differences in society that weigh against men. Now I won’t pretend that women have it a lot worse than men but there are certain things that do not scream out ‘equality’ to me. For example girls can join the scouts these days but boys cannot join the guides. Now the reason given for this is that young girls need the safety of the no-boy environment to blossom and grow but boys do not need that environment. Also Tomboy’s are accepted but Janegirl’s are not. If people are fine with girls that prefer more traditional male pursuits then why are boys in the opposite situation not assisted and allowed to explore their perceived feminine side?

Also many women want a female doctor and a female midwife even though their male counterparts are trained in exactly the same way. Just because a woman has a vagina doesn’t mean in a medical sense they are more or less qualified than their male counterparts. My sister when signing up for a new doctor was told that she should sign up with a female doctor because of the family history of breast cancer. She said she didn’t care as all doctors are trained the same way and she believed that a male doctor was just as likely to notice any issues.

Isn’t that sexist behaviour by the people who want a female doctor (or men who want a male doctor) or is it just a thing? Someone feels more comfortable with someone of the same gender. Most would say that but surely if you said that you didn’t want a black doctor because you are more comfortable with a white doctor then that would be racist would it not? So what is the difference here?

Just putting it out there. Now I want to talk about compliments. Last year I commented to a shop worker at her till as I liked her hair as it was different to how she usually had it and I thought that it looked nice. Is that sexist? I have said before that I like a guy’s shoes or clothes or even hair. Is saying someone’s hair is nice sexist or is it just a thing?

Louise Shaw in her piece I linked to earlier says of this, ‘First of all, if you are concerned you’re probably not crossing it – the sweetest guys can sometimes get all wrapped up in what they are saying and where they might be going wrong, and they are the ones most unlikely to be causing the issue.’ Result. I’m probably not crossing the line. Well there is very little chance that I am because I rarely hang around with women (or anyone in all honesty) and even if I do then the likelihood of me giving them a compliment is low because I am always afraid that they’ll take it in the wrong way (way to go self-confidence).

I say this but I must point something out. I have seen women say what I’d deem as harassing comments to guys on a night out. I have also seen women get what I’d call harassed but actually like the attention and I have seen them cop off and go home with guys who I’d say harassed them. Here is the problem. Not everyone is the same. Women say they don’t like being called darling’ or ‘babe’ but heck nor do I and I have been called those words on many occasions – mostly in shops by shop assistants. Do I think they are being sexist or do I think it is just the way they speak? I think the latter hence why I don’t worry too much about it.

Last thing I want to talk about is quotas before I get into rounding this thing up. I do not believe in quotas. It is an issue that splits people down the middle – certainly within the Liberal Democrat Party. Women have exactly the same opportunities to become MPs within the party. Is it fair to introduce quotas that would potentially stop better candidates becoming PPCs in the short-term so in the long-term the numbers are more equal? Would the diversity mean that also a certain percentage of PPCs need to be of different ethnicities or of different sexual persuasions? If 9% of people are gay then should 9% of PPCs be gay as well? At what point do you stop?

I think that as long as there are equal opportunities then the best candidate should win out. I always say the following which is taking things to the nth degree but still I do believe it is a valid point. People of a white background enslaved people of black backgrounds for far too long and treated them as second class citizens (if that). So would it therefore be fair for the people of black backgrounds to enslave the white people for the same amount to time to make everything even? I know it is a big stretch but when you look at it then you’ll see it is not too far apart.

As women were treated as second class citizens for the majority of the human race – should there be quotas that would discriminate against men in the short-term to get long-term equality or is having equal opportunities and letting things naturally evolve to parity? It is one that will always divide people and not necessarily along gender lines and not even all feminists agree on this.

Now to start rounding this epic off firstly women get it an awful lot worse overall. There is no argument from me but it does work both ways. I believe in both equality and equal opportunities. However I also think that people need to realise that not everything is sexist if it is pro one gender or the other. Some things are just things. This is why I often like to poke at those I call radical feminists because they pick up on issues that aren’t remotely sexist to sum up how sexist everything is. Some things as I said are just things. People need to realise that men are different to women in many situations. However men are different to other men and women are different to other women. No man speaks for all men and no woman – or group of women – should ever speak for all women.

We are all individuals and we are all different. If you disagree with everyone of the previous 4,291 words then please agree with the previous sentence. The fact is we are all different and we all find different things offensive. I for example don’t like South Park and find it crude and offensive. However I love Bottom. We are all different and that is something that I really think a lot of people struggle to understand. I got a sense the other day that some people truly believed that people tweeting using the #menagainstrape hashtag were heroes and those who didn’t clearly advocated rape in some form. I cannot tell you just how offensive I found this. I really did.

Just because the three men Louise quoted earlier made dumb comments and believe dumb things does that taint the whole of the male species or does it in fact just taint the three individuals involved? I must say for me it’s only the latter. If a woman comes up to me and pinches my bum and giggles and says ‘alright darling?’ do I think that all women invade my personal space and have eye problems? No I don’t. If a girl in a club grabs my balls and gives them a squeeze do her actions influence my thoughts on all women or just the person involved? Just the person involved.

So ideologically I’m a feminist as I advocate equal opportunities for women. As I quoted earlier a feminist is, ‘an advocate or supporter of the rights and equality of women.’ Well to be blunt if there is a member of the Lib Dems who doesn’t believe that then I will be genuinely shocked. However I struggle when the radical feminists try to find issue with every little thing. There are just so many fights that women (and men) need to fight to gain parity in everything that they do that to find fights that aren’t really sexist in origin just seems like a waste.

There is a debate about how to gain equality without infringing on equal opportunities and that is ont something I have an answer to but I do firmly believe that any form of quota system would be unfair. Feminism is a force for good but the problem is there is no single voice. Feminists know their goal but they have no uniform idea of how to get there and that causes factions where most people believe that equality is the end goal, some say equal opportunities will result in this goal, some say that it won’t but some even want equality but only up to a certain point.

Some feminists believe that women deserve longer maternity leave to men and feel that they are the more important bond with the child compared to the father. Surely that is not the case? Surely a father and a mother should be equal but then of course they negates the ideal that the sexes are different. Women produce milk for the child whereas the man does not. Therefore they are different so should they be treated as such or should equality overrule the physical differences of lactation?

I’ll end with this. I saw on everydaysexism people saying they felt it was sexist for men to say ‘after you’ or to offer to carry their bags as they felt offended by this. After reading this I refused to carry my sisters bag today as I didn’t want to be accused of being sexist. Again I did this facetiously but the fact is what I’d call good manners some call sexist. Society has gone mad. Mad I tells ye.

So yes. Feminism ideologically I’m fully behind. In a practical sense though the only way I can assure I’m not potentially being sexist is to never even communicate or look at someone of the opposite gender. This is hard. It is really hard. I like leaving the apartment but in the real world outside these four walls there are women. If I look at the wrong one and smile I might be being sexist in their eyes. I might be being sexist in you – the reader’s – eyes. It is just a minefield out there.

There are some of my considered thoughts on sexism and feminism. I’m proud to want equality so therefore I am a proud feminist but in the literal sense of the word. What I cannot support or put my name to is the radical feminism which I’m afraid to say is the form that most people see. Those who see sexism in everything that they do and cannot see that it can work both ways. Those who think that a handful of people can speak for a whole gender. I just cannot abide such a thing.

Neil Monnery. Man. Liberal Democrat. Feminist. Has spent nearly four hours writing this. I hope a few people actually read the whole thing!

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Lucy Wright beat extradition despite preparing to plead guilty so why didn’t Julian Assange?

I haven’t weighed in on this Julian Assange debate but I have many questions on the matter and there aren’t too many answers out there. Facts are few and far between but conjecture is all around. The vast majority of people fall into one of two camps – either it is a giant conspiracy or he’s a rapist doing whatever he can to avoid facing imprisonment for his crimes.

As per usual I am not firmly in either camp. I do think that there are many eyebrow-raising decisions that Mr Assange has made and they are at best questionable and at worse devious. If we take it as gospel that he fled Sweden when he was notified that he was going to be charged with sex crimes then why did he flee to the UK? That seems like a pretty dumb decision considering we extradite pretty much anyone unless there is compelling evidence to do and at this point let me bring up the case of Lucy Wright.

Lucy Wright (Robertson at the time) was arrested carrying cocaine through Buenos Aires airport in 2007. She did the crime and has no qualms about admitting that although she doesn’t want to face time behind bars in Argentina and wants to serve her prison sentence (whatever it may be) in the UK. She was granted bail and according to her own story which was featured on last weeks Banged Up ABroad on National Geographic fled bail and swam the Iguazu river to make it into Brazil with no passport and managed to con the police, the British consulate and Brazilian border officials to get an emergency passport and fled back home to the UK. Upon her arrival she handed herself into authorities but with no international arrest warrant against her name she was told to go about her life.

Two years later she was arrested under an international arrest warrant and the Home Secretary Teresa May said she had no reason to intervene however upon appeal the high court quashed the previous rulings and denied the extradition request due to they feared her human rights would be infringed. The less than sanitary conditions in Argentine prisons and the fact that she would face up to two years in prison on remand before trial and then up to 16 years inside would not be right but that isn’t what stopped the extradition.

They said an expert called in her case had provided “powerful” evidence that, as a woman and a foreign prisoner, she would have to endure a lack of food and hygiene products, and would face humiliating strip-searches by prison staff as well as attacks from fellow inmates.

The judges said, “The uncontradicted evidence shows a disturbing pattern of cruel, inhuman treatment being suffered by female prisoners and especially foreign ones in Argentina.”

This is why they stopped the extradition. The Argentine government did not give reassurances or guarantees that Miss Wright would not face inhumane treatment as a foreign female prisoner. They said that if they tried again and gave these guarantees then they decision might be reversed but for now they were not prepared to send this young woman into these conditions.

As for Julian Assange the Swedish judicial system is not the same. Mr Assange does not face inhumane conditions at the hands of the Swedes. Now whilst I have deep questions about how the case was brought against him it has been and there is no reason why he shouldn’t face those charges. The fact that he doesn’t want to clear his name is worrying as I’m pretty sure any innocent accused rapist would want to clear his name as quickly and as publicly as possible.

He fears that Sweden will extradite him to the USA but Sweden and the UK show no differences in how they would react to an extradition request from the United States. Also as far as I’m aware both the UK and Sweden would refuse to extradite anyone who is charged with an offence with the death penalty as a potential punishment. As the US want Assange over treason then I can’t see how Sweden would extradite him.

He says everything is a conspiracy. Well maybe it is but the only facts we have now are that he has been charged with a crime and is refusing to face those charges. It would be the most keenly watched criminal trial in Swedish history and it would be scrutinised beyond belief so if it was a conspiracy then it would be unravelled quick sharpish. The Swedes aren’t some backwater country where a few dollars in someone’s back pocket will get them the verdict and/or sentence that they want (as a keen watched of Banged Up Aboard you do see this happen all the time). I trust the Swedes to be fair.

So the differences between Julian Assange and Lucy Wright are simple. One faces real human rights issues should they be extradited and one does not. Mr Assange has lost an awful lot of credibility as the months have gone on. Whether he did rape these two women I have no idea but he’s been charged and if he is innocent then he has to clear his name. A man accused of rape who doesn’t want to clear his name is a man hiding something. What that is I don’t know but he is certainly doing himself no favours and the good will ended a long long time ago when he decided to request asylum in a country with a pretty mediocre (at best) human rights record. It is like he is just desperate to escape justice at any cost.

To me that is deeply troubling.

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Rik Mayall & Ade Edmondson writing a Bottom-equse sequel – Great News!

The Young Ones was terrific. Filthy Rich & Catflap was ok. Bottom was just as good as The Young Ones but the BBC declined a fully written fourth series but the stage shows continued until 2003 where upon Ade decided that the time was right to make a clean break from the Richie and Eddie franchise and try other things. Fans had always hoped that the two of them would reunite in a comedy way and Ade always said he’d like to do something with Rik again in the future and the future is seemingly now.

Yesterday Ade posted on his twitter account a photo of Rik Mayall with the following words ‘writing with this complete bastard today’ and then confirmed that the two of them are working on writing a series based on one of their stage tours ‘Hooligan’s Island’ with the two of them marooned on a desert island. Picture below:

Ade Edmondson & Rik Mayall Hooligan's Island
They are back…well at least the first step any way…

Now of course this series hasn’t been written yet nor has it been commissioned so it might be a tad too early to get overly excited about the possibly of Richard Richard and Edward Hitler returning to our screens but it is a big step forward. You would have to think that if they are successful in writing a full series of the show that someone in this digital age will commission it (looking at you here Dave) if the BBC aren’t to do it.

You always felt that they still had something left in them and Bottom and The Young Ones have both still stood the test of time unlike other sitcoms of that era (looking at you Men Behaving Badly and we saw Ab Fab make a successful return and even Red Dwarf is still getting commissioned despite it not being that good since series six.

So I for one am cautiously optimistic one this venture mostly because the writing team will return as well as the two stars. You’d hope and expect them to have aged the pair of them and that will be part of the fun. Ade and Rik aren’t young men any more but heck old men can be funny too and if you loved Richie and Eddie in their 30s/40s then surely you’d want to see how they have aged and ‘matured’ in their 50s…?

Well I know I do…

Update 16/10/12: Alas Ade has pulled out of this venture citing that he wasn’t enjoying the writing experience. The BBC had commissioned the six-part series but it now will not be going ahead. Sad times.

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Some of the #menagainstrape tweets – an interesting mix I must say

I have already pissed off some people by saying that the #menagainstrape hashtag actually does nothing productive so lets have a look at some of the tweets coming through with the hashtag…

Very good point. Is the default position on rape that all men are pro. Do we actively have to ‘opt-out’ of this position to declare that we actually think it is vile? I need conformation on this…

Another excellent point. Men lie (as do women) to win brownie points.

Sums up my feelings perfectly.

Oh apparently we do have to opt-out of being pro-rape.

Ah someone can see the pointlessness of it. Hurrah!

It should be and it is – except maybe on twitter…

Yep that seems to be the general consensus.

You’d have thought so but apparently not…

Ding, ding, ding…!

It is a fair point related to the previous tweet.

I kinda agree with this one a lot.

Breaking news.

Interesting point but we don’t allow facts in this debate I’m afraid.

A very good point.

Lies. Making a statement on twitter does change the world.

Hooray. Someone thinks it is the default position. I like this person.

It is a given. Please believe me…

In fact some people apparently do assume as such…


Yup. Really…

We’ll end up with two people whom I actually follow and aren’t just randoms from the hashtag feed:

That would be much more valuable and constructive than just tweeting about it.

There are many more but at some point I need to stop. It is a very interesting feed. From what I can gather on the radical feminist side is that tweeting that you are against rape is constructive and actually does something. Also if you don’t explicitly tweet that you are against rape then you are probably a rapist or at least someone who is a rape apologist. The default position is that men in general are very lackadaisical with their viewpoint towards rape.

Happily others (including women) think that the default position is that people are against rape. Some people do need more education on the matter but a hashtag on twitter isn’t going to provide that education.

So it is basically split into two parts. Either men need to show that they are against rape or that men don’t need to show it because they are in fact against rape by default. I don’t know if those in the first group walk the streets and look at every man they see and think ‘rapist’ but if they do then the world must be a very scary place for them.

No doubts this hashtag will continue throughout the afternoon with the same mix of people involved. Those that think that everyone who proclaims they are against rape is a hero and deserves praise with those that don’t potential suspects and on the flip side those who think it does nothing and that men don’t need to publicly state that they are against rape.

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This #menagainstrape hashtag on twitter. Isn’t it all a bit pointless?

Is twitter going all Facebook on us? ‘93% of people won’t share this photo because they don’t care about cancer/the armed forces/midgets/bad acting in Eastenders ruining the thespians of the future and if you don’t share it then you are showing the world that you don’t care.’ We’ve all seen those things on Facebook and I ignore the lot and today on twitter there is a #menagainstrape hashtag that people are using to signal that they are against rape. All nice and dandy but aren’t all men broadly against rape just like they are against cancer et al like the Facebook things we see all the time?

To me is it just people saying ‘look at me – I’m against rape – aren’t I awesome?’ whereas the simple fact is people don’t really need to come out against rape as people are against it. It is a despicable act and whilst there are rapists out there most of them are actually against rape but then turn into rapists for whatever reason, be it alcohol, be it mentally unstable, be it whatever. I strongly suspect that if Les Dennis was running around asking 100 people whether they were against rape where there would not be more than one answer on the board.

Men are against rape. Women are against rape. Men think cancer is a disgusting disease that if possible should be cured. Women think cancer is a disgusting disease that if possible should be cured. Men think that bad acting in Eastenders is polluting the minds of young people who could grow up to be the next Patrick Stewart as do women. etc. etc. etc.

Now whilst I think publicly stating that you are against rape is pretty pointless and just pandering to the ‘I am’ society that we inhabit. What I am nearly as disturbed about are the amount of people that are praising how amazing the hashtag is and that it is making their view of men better and that the hashtag is helping them see not all men are actually pro-rape. I just don’t get it. Do people really think that because Julian Assange is fighting extradition to face rape charges and George Galloway thinks that having sex with someone when they are asleep is not rape that because they are both white men that they speak for all white men and therefore all white men couldn’t give two hoots about rape. I mean really?

Here’s a headline for people. Rape is evil and everyone knows it whether they be a man or a woman. Now of course some people still rape others but some people commit murder and everyone knows that is evil. Some people commit adultery with their husbands brother or with their wives sister. They know it isn’t what you should do but some people still do it.

I’m glad that some people’s faith in men is being restored because they are tweeting that they are against rape. If that makes some people feel better about the male of the species then hooray. I am just perplexed that some people need a hashtag on twitter to show then that indeed not every man is pro-rape. I’m glad that in my little bubble I believe in the good of people and that everyone knows right from wrong. If some people do wrong things then they did them knowing that they are wrong. That is how I see it anyway.

To sum up. I have a penis and a pair of bollocks and I am against rape. Do I need to tell the world that? No I don’t (but I am writing a blog on the subject so…) as the world already knows but heck if it is the cool thing on twitter and it is restoring faith in some people then men aren’t all secret rapists and go to rape parties then so be it. Sometimes I despair, I really do (actually I despair a lot). Do people really think that the overwhelming majority of men don’t think that rape is a evil thing to do…? I’d hate to have such a starting point in faith for mankind. If I did then I suspect I’d be depressed a lot of the time…

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The problem with being a 29 year-old virgin and having a Facebook account for your sanity levels

I don’t like labels but sometimes facts are facts. I am 29. I am single and my dangly bits between my legs have never done anything that would result in a woman being worried about missing their period. It doesn’t bother me too much although at times it grates and usually when someone shows an interest I either think that they are clinically insane and/or they become clingy and scare me off as I need my space. However in recent weeks this attitude of mine is being attacked – by proxy – by Facebook.

At the point of writing I have 329 Facebook friends. Just using my memory I can name over thirty of them who have either given birth, gotten pregnant, got engaged or tied the knot in the past year. Five. Yes five of them have gotten engaged in just the past seven days. That is quite a run and that doesn’t include someone who got engaged then de-friended me the other day. I mean can’t a 29 year-old single virgin even go on Facebook without feeling as though life is passing him by any more?

Of course people on Facebook rarely put up the bad times so you always thinks that your life is all sweetness and light. Social media is a strange place as you rarely show off the side of your life that is bad but always extoll the good parts. Now not for one moment am I suggesting that people shouldn’t put whatever they like on social media and to be blunt no-one should give a flying you know what if some people reading about their good times think ‘bloody hell yet another person having an important life moment whilst I sit here and wait for Masterchef Australia to return to our screens in September because that is something I’m looking forward to,’ but it is a phenomenon that I have noticed. I would only say one of my 329 Facebook friends puts all his/her bad times and bad feelings up for all to read and it is even more unnerving than reading about the good times in all honesty.

So what is my point?

The point is society paints a picture of what it expects you to do. If you live your life from a different script all that happens is people think you aren’t normal. I don’t drink alcohol and that has caused issues in the past as some people have struggled to understand how someone could choose not to drink alcohol. To quote one of my neighbours I am ‘the only person who doesn’t drink that he trusts or likes’ and that is a genuine quote. Society expects you to drink and if you don’t then people will always want to know why and won’t just accept it as a fact.

Another thing society expects is for people to have relationships. Whether it be m/f, m/m, f/f, m/f/m, f/m/f or whatever. Society is slowly accepting all kind of relationships as perfectly acceptable (when really society should have accepted it a long, long time ago) but society is still struggling with single people – certainly those who don’t take every offer of sexual intercourse that comes their way. Certainly those who have essentially been single for a significant amount of time and couple that with not wanting to go out on the town on Friday or Saturday nights and heads explode. There must be something wrong with me.

It is something I have struggled with for years but in the past two or three I have essentially just settled down and realised that I have chosen my path in life and have accepted that as I personally am content. As for whether I’m happy well that is not as easy to say but I’m content with my decisions in life.

I hate social situations. I just do. I don’t know how to talk to strangers in social situations whether it be men or women or whatever. I very much have to be in my ‘comfort zone’ before I open up. I think I am terrible socially and when I try to be social most of the time deep down I am longing to be in the safety of my apartment. I know this and have tailored my social activities to suit. There are very few people that I am comfortable to be sociable around. However on Saturday one of my neighbours said that they thought I had bundles of confidence. Maybe I fake it well or more likely I’ve known her for over a year.

It is a far cry from when I’m sitting behind a microphone or in front of a TV camera or the like. Then anyone that sees me would think I am totally an Alpha male. That doesn’t phase me one jot so why do I hate social events? I don’t know but looking back at when I was say at school I was always the one who found a mate who wasn’t really up for the party and just hung out with them. I didn’t drink until I was 18 as I didn’t like the taste (the same reason as I don’t drink now) and I knew then that all the women in our social group didn’t like me so there was little point attempting to talk to them as they knew who they wanted to enjoy their social gatherings with – and it was not me I can assure you of that.

At university I think my lack of exposure to the opposite sex i.e, I knew most of them didn’t like me didn’t exactly help. I will always remember one girl in my third year telling me ‘you aren’t like what everyone said – you are actually a really nice guy’ those words will always follow me about. I remember exactly when they were said and for what reason. It also sums up how my life in general has been. People don’t really like me unless they get to know me where upon quite a lot actually do think I’m ok and not the awful person they thought I was before they actually got to know me. That should give me confidence however it doesn’t really as I still meet very few people.

Therefore we get back to what I was typing earlier about how I hate social situations. So I won’t meet too many people. I live alone and I work from home. So no joy there. I have blogged extensively about internet dating and the ups and downs of that but my towel was thrown in on that front a while ago. The problem is I don’t exactly look great on paper (or in real life – zing) so I’m not exactly going to excite people on the virtual world and as I proved in one of my pieces – girls get a lot of messages and have a lot of options in the virtual world. Yes most of them will be dross but still dross has the wow factor over me.

So anyway I was talking about this on twitter a good friend tweeted me about it and hit the nail on the head when I said about not following the typical society path of relationships, ‘And it knocks your self esteem so much when you feel like the odd one out. Life has all just fallen into place due to the happen-stance of being in the right place at the right time and yet you’re made to feel like an oddity because it hadn’t all gone the same way.’ Bang. Nailed it.

To sum up this pointless ramble I’m comfortable with what life has thrown at me. I’m comfortable with who I am. Would I changes things? Maybe but the problem is if you change one thing then you don’t know the knock-on affect of it. Relationship wise a long time ago deep down I understood that I’m not the type of guy most women want. I understand that and have I suppose dealt with it in my own way. There will always be someone better than me. That is the way it has always been and whilst it might not be the way it always will be I don’t see me going down the society preferred route of actually being in a relationship. I’m just going to be single – for a long time – and that is just how it seemingly is meant to be.

I’ll keep watching Facebook for all those dramatic updates from around my social network but as for me expect updates about Masterchef Australia (come September) and other such pointless non life-altering issues. It doesn’t bother me but you do sometimes think ‘what if?’ but then you quickly remember that it is not. I like sticking it to society that I’m different and not doing what society expects me to but damnit society makes it hard not to at least flash the odd envious glance that way.

Lastly I’m only 11 years away from being a 40 year-old virgin. If I make it I will want to star in the sequel of that movie.

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