Thoughtful article asks the question – Are you sure you aren’t Racist?


‘I’m sure the Oxbridge admissions tutors who are giving white students the benefit of the doubt don’t think of themselves as racist’ by Sophie Heawood 14 Feb

You know what it’s like, you’re driving to meet someone and you send them a message saying you’re 10 minutes away. And then you arrive a full hour later, because you’ve been pulled over by the police, who suspect you of dealing drugs, although they don’t actually tell you that in so many words as they go rifling through your things.

Actually, I have no idea what that feels like, never having been stopped by the police for anything, even though I’ve walked around with drugs on me several times in my life. (I was younger, foolisher, things change.) But this week, when I was waiting to interview George the Poet, a musician recently nominated for a Brit award, this is what happened to him. He’s black, he drives a decent car, he wears Nike, and says it happens all the time. Every day he leaves his London home aware that random and unwarranted police attention might divert him from his path, and that he has to remain diplomatic rather than make it worse for himself by revealing how upsetting he finds it. Me, I just leave the house, idly wondering if I’ve remembered to put my phone charger in my bag.


The report just published by race equality charity the Runnymede Trust, proving that it is harder for black and Asian students to get into the country’s most selective universities (even armed with the same A-level grades as white applicants), comes as a further kick in the teeth to optimists who want to believe that institutional racism is in decline. George the Poet, real name George Mpanga, is a Cambridge graduate: even if you make it through the university selection process, the assumptions about how you paid for that car are still waiting for you on the other side.

I’m sure the police who stopped Mpanga’s car don’t think they’re racist. I’m sure the Oxbridge admissions tutors who are giving white students the benefit of the doubt, while extending less confidence to other applicants, don’t think of themselves as racist, either. Many of them would probably say, “I don’t have a racist bone in my body”, always the first sentence uttered by someone who hasn’t had to address their assumptions. A racist bone – as if racism was an alien substance that God used to build the bad people, rather than something that any one of us is capable of at any time. Casually, quickly; a glance, a hunch.

Continue reading Thoughtful article asks the question – Are you sure you aren’t Racist?

Fifty Shades of Grey – “The book and movie perpetuate the idea that the abuse and sexual control of women is sexy”


Once your eyes are opened to the patriarchy – the idea that much of society is about men controlling women’s lives, their sexuality and their fertility for their own ends – then you begin to see it everywhere.  If a woman’s role is to bear a mans children for him and bring them up and keep his house then it makes sense to bring women up to see their future role as being to look for a good provider. For some women helping to ‘heal’ a damaged man to make him whole so that they can function as a partnership may seem like a good option – the issue is that it is an unequal relationship which often ends in abuse.  

S&M is a private thing in which individuals ‘play’ or experiment with the proprieties and power balances of their relationship – it doesn’t seem to me that this is what Fifty Shades is about. I worry that it is  telling women that having a romantic relationship with a damaged, controlling man is a good thing when in fact it is often a gateway to an unequal relationship which has a high probability of ending in abuse…

Why You Should Talk To Your Kids About ’50 Shades Of Grey’ – The book and movie perpetuate the idea that the abuse and sexual control of women is sexy By Soraya Chemaly February 11, 2015

One of the great virtues of insomnia, otherwise a deplorable problem, is the found time to do silly things for no good reason. During two sleepless weeks in 2013, I stayed up every night and read the Twilight books and then, for good measure, their fan fiction follow up, the Fifty Shades trilogy. As I read, I vacillated between giggling at some execrable, entertaining writing and amazement that anyone could think these books were transgressive.

It was like eating too much sweet, pink, and airy cotton candy. Then eating some more. Then feeling kind of sick and wishing you hadn’t because of the empty calories. Then being glad you did, because you probably wouldn’t touch the stuff again.

The disturbing thing about these stories, however, was that young teenagers voraciously consumed Twilight and many of them will see Fifty Shades of Grey. A few years ago, many people thought the Twilight books and movies were just fine for early teens because Twilight had “no sex.” Those children, only a few years older, are a prime target market for the film Fifty Shades of Grey and millions have, no doubt, also read the books. Both franchises normalize coercive sexuality and abuse.

If you put them on a spectrum, however, you’d have to start with Disney’s Beauty and the Beast. Consider the immediate narrative similarities:

Innocent, younger, virginal girl/woman
Damaged, older, more experienced boy/man
Female characters are relatively poor
Male characters are relatively wealthy and their lives filled with luxury
Male characters engage in controlling access to food, clothes
Male characters practice controlling/stalking behaviors such as following, eavesdropping, spying and this is considered a sign of love
Female characters are systematically isolated from their friends and family
Male characters are violent and physically overwhelming
Female character’s love, or the quest for that love, “change” the male character and make him less “monstrous”
Female characters learn to anticipate and “manage” male anger to reduce stress, risk.

There are many ways to interpret all three as portraying strong women, in control of their destinies. Regardless, however, these similarities remain valid, and both subtle and not-so-subtle abuse fills these stories. (Practitioners of BDSM disavow the books’ portrayals, arguing that the depictions do not reflect safe/consensual practices, but are about indefensible sexual and emotional violence.)


In the case of Fifty Shades, a recent analysis of the books revealed that “Emotional abuse is present in nearly every interaction.” Researchers make a compelling case, and provide backup for it, that stalking, intimidation, and sexual violence (including using alcohol to compromise consent) are pervasive. Anastasia, the protagonist, is described many times as feeling constant threat and described experiencing physical symptoms associated with it (“my stomach churns from his threats”); her identity changes and she becomes quick to “manage” Christian’s anger so that there is no violence.

Continue reading Fifty Shades of Grey – “The book and movie perpetuate the idea that the abuse and sexual control of women is sexy”

Today’s One Liners

FRANCE FACT: The town next to Bayonne is called ‘Getonne-free’.

I wonder how many Grandmas are misdiagnosed with hyperthyroid problems, when they’re actually wolves.

A journey of 1,000 miles begins with a single person falling asleep on the last train.

IDEA: Speed Dating, but with ‘winner stays on’ rule.

Marvin Gaye taught me to combine wine making and cattle farming. I herd it through the grapevine.

Supermarkets asked to move daffodils away from fruit & veg to avoid confusion. Shoppers asked to keep arses away from elbows at all times.

Well, if you’re not supposed to lick them, then I’m not sure that they should really be called ‘Lollipop Ladies’. Your honour.

RUGBY FACT: Wales’ last 5 results have been LLWLW. Which is also the Welsh word for ‘disappointing’.

Spent this morning catching some rays. And now I have a lifetime ban from the National Aquarium.

99p Stores bought by Poundland. All change for them

I’ve just spilled quinoa on my laptop keyboard. Assume I need to wipe it clean with a hemp cloth, or a copy of the Guardian?

My date last night ticked a lot of boxes. Including the one that said “Tick if you find it creepy that he’s making you fill in a survey”.

Why most of the Breakfast you just ate was decided on by American Business…


Cold Cereal, Yogurt. Coffee and orange juice are breakfast staples because somebody somewhere wanted to make money By Anneli Rufus AlterNet February 2, 2015

Breakfast is basically a corporate scam. Not all of it (probably not Porridge , Tea and Toast) . But nearly every breakfast staple — cold cereal, donuts, yogurt, bagels and cream cheese, orange juice, Cappuccino — is a staple only because somebody somewhere wanted money. Wake up and smell the McCafé.

Seeking to provide sanitarium patients with meatless anti-aphrodisiac breakfasts in 1894, Michigan Seventh-Day Adventist surgeon and anti-masturbation activist John Kellogg developed the process of flaking cooked grains. Hence Corn Flakes. Hence Rice Krispies. Hence a rift between Kellogg and his business partner/brother, who wanted to sweeten Kellogg’s cereals in hopes of selling more. Guess who won.


In pre-Corn Flakes America, breakfast wasn’t cold or sweet. It was hot, hearty and lardy, and it had about 4,000 calories.

“Breakfast was the biggest meal of the day. Eaten before you headed out to do a whole day of farm chores, it had to keep you going until dinner,” says food historian Andrew F. Smith, author of Eating History: Thirty Turning Points in the Making of American Cuisine (Columbia University Press, 2009). Pre-industrial Americans loaded up on protein-rich eggs, sausages, ham and American-style belly-fat bacon along with ancient carb classics: mush, pancakes, bread.

Continue reading Why most of the Breakfast you just ate was decided on by American Business…

US Supreme Court Continues its winning streak of Lunatic Rulings: Since Men Can Lactate, It’s Cool for US Companies To Fire Women for Breastfeeding

Supreme_Court_US_2010by Collier Meyerson

Well if it isn’t father patriarchy ruling his ugly head. Angela Ames is fresh out of options after the US Supreme Court declined to hear her petition to get a lower court’s ruling overturned (the Iowa mom was trying to sue her employer for gender discrimination after she was fired for breastfeeding).


SF Gate reports:

Ames was nursing her new baby and wanted to continue by pumping and storing breast milk at work. Before her first day back, she asked a Nationwide disability case manager where she could express milk and was told a lactation room was available. But when she showed up at work on her first day she found out she couldn’t use the lactation room because she hadn’t filled out required paperwork for access, according to court documents. Ames was never told about the paperwork before her day back at work.

A company nurse directed Ames to a wellness room for sick employees, but the space was occupied. She returned to her desk where her direct supervisor approached her and informed her that none of her work had been completed while she was away. He warned her that she needed to work overtime to complete everything in two weeks or else she’d face disciplinary action.

Ames was then handed a piece of paper to craft a resignation letter so she could “go home and be with” her children, even though all homegirl was trying to do was pump a little of that white for her new baby.

I’m not a legal expert or anything but it sounds like a slam dunk suit, right? Apparently not. Ames’ case was thrown out by a trial court which, according to Raw Story cited “that breastfeeding-related firings aren’t sexist because men can lactate, too.”

Continue reading US Supreme Court Continues its winning streak of Lunatic Rulings: Since Men Can Lactate, It’s Cool for US Companies To Fire Women for Breastfeeding

Warning Explicit Opinions!!!