When In New York………


………….Why not join the bare breasts and book reading club????

Apparently, a spokes person, not spokes woman by the way, was quoted telling The Huffington Post that  “once in a while a woman (and it’s always a woman) will give us a dirty look as she passes or mutter “really?” under her breath” ………”Really”, is that all the female passer by says, wow! I say, if you strip off then expect some comment from someone, otherwise, don’t strip off!

I wonder why other women walking through a city centre park, in the middle of the day, might dare to say something (even if the word is as inoffensive as ‘really’) to the topless brigade?

Are these well read topless women really (there’s that word again!) so clueless? Perhaps all that book reading hasn’t yet stretched to feminist literature!

One step forward and two steps back! Let’s once again refocus on image, youth, beauty, breasts, bums and vaginas and everything else feminism tried to overthrow because of objectification! Who cares what book they are reading when they have their breasts out! No one is evaluating their intelligence, just their breasts! Let us be blunt on that point!

Apparently, the males of New York are encouraging towards the bare breast book reading women……….who would have thought it!

Of course men won’t mind! It’s great watching women’s breast sway in the breeze! They are men, who find breasts sexually attractive! They are relieved to see breasts free of tops, jumpers and shirts! No longer do the men of New York have to walk around Central Park and try to sneak a peak at breasts, they are in full view! Happy days!

Yet, if a woman exposes her breast to feed a child, there is uproar (in the UK this is the case anyway). I just don’t get it, such hypocrisy! Breasts aren’t for feeding babies, did you know? No, breasts are merely just to be exposed for sexual gratification in any random situation! Of course they are!

This craze of stripping off is the same in Madrid. The sun comes out, which is does frequently in Spain, and so too do the half naked women, not men, but women.

Being a heterosexual woman, I don’t wish to be relaxing in any park and have to face the view of other women’s half naked bodies, regardless of how gorgeous they may be! I don’t visit parks to ogle other women’s bodies. Perhaps this female nakedness wouldn’t be so bad if the disparity between female nakedness, and male nakedness wasn’t so glaring obvious.

If naked is OK, or semi naked or whatever, why don’t men strip off too?

Why do only women have to walk, sit, lie and whatever else in a state of nakedness in public places? Why?

I personally rather keep my private bits and bobs under wraps. My reason? Do I need one? Should I have to strip off in public? Should anyone strip in public? Why is it so OK to strip off in public? Why is it deemed so liberating? What’s liberating about objectification?

Call me old fashioned, I don’t care! Call me a prude, I don’t care! I just wish people would think before they strip off, so sue me!

If more women than men strip off in public, then surely there remains an inequality. Women’s bodies are to viewed and objectified and men’s aren’t. Women are sexual objects who should parade their wares and men are not and do not need to.

So, regardless of my fragile sensibilities I suppose yet again I will be the only woman in the park thinking, my body is my body and not for the viewing pleasure of any Tom, Dick or Harry, nor is it up for discussion either! My body is mine and I show it only to myself and my partner. But, then I am old fashioned, and a prude! So, sue me!

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“Spotted”


I must admit, reading about “Spotted” in the news once again came as no surprise to me. Sadly, it seems everyday a new wave of internet indecency or nastiness becomes part of the norm.

And, make no mistake, the materials posted upon “Spotted” are particularly grotesque. But, I still have to question; aren’t such materials in many ways merely an expression of freedom, and of being human?

In truth, it is completely normal and part of everyday life – men and women will look at, talk about, fantasise about and trade lewd comments/pictures of the opposite sex. They don’t need the internet for this either.

So, I have to ask – how far is too far on the internet?

And, has “Spotted” reached, breached and exceeded the limits?

For those of you who don’t know what ‘Spotted’ is, allow me to provide you with some shockingly foul-mouthed quotes which illustrates it clearly (warning – profanities follow);

That blonde haired girl who just walked into the 2nd floor of the library is fucking banging – ‘Spotted: Reading University Library’ (3718 likes).

To the dirty skank… for gods sake buy some new leggings!! jesus christ! i can see your minge! [sic] – ‘Spotted: Swansea University Campus’ (2407 likes).

To the girl talking about harry potter. i think your arse might be a horcrux, im gonna have to destroy it tonight – ‘Spotted: Kent Uni Library’ (4209 likes).

These comments are typical examples of what “Spotted” has to offer. Male university students and their velvet tongues, produce one disgusting comment after another, and it is shrugged off as a type of compliment that their female peers should enjoy receiving.

“Spotted” pages are in fact part of the Facebook family. They are pages that encourage students to write comments and messages about their peers, which are published anonymously by page administrators. Many of the pages target specific universities (each page supposedly run by a student at that institution), with hundreds of different pages appearing on Facebook. Many of the pages have been liked thousands of times.

The “about” sections of most of the pages innocent enough, they encourage students to share funny incidents, grievances or secret crushes, but the reality is very different. Many of the pages consist of heavily sexualised and offensive comments about students’ appearance and sexuality, and female students are targeted with particularly misogynistic comments.

To the stuck up slut who looked at me as if I’d just slipped a finger up her grandma… –‘Spotted: University of Portsmouth Library’ (7460 likes).

Some posts include images, seemingly uploaded without the subjects’ knowledge or consent.

A current post on the ‘Spotted: University of Essex’ page (3955 likes) shows a young woman sitting at a computer, apparently unaware of the fact that her underwear is exposed above the waistband of her trousers, or of the fact that she is being photographed from behind. The caption on the photograph reads: “Nice bit a crack in the reading room.” [sic]

Another picture featuring a female student, again taken from behind and apparently without consent, appears on the “Spotted: Coventry University” page (4097 likes), captioned: “Asian girls and their asses though.” Several of the posts nastily blend racism with sexism.

A post appearing on the ‘Spotted: Hotty in Hartley Library’ page (3493 likes), displays a picture of a female student from behind, and asks fellow students to identify her so the poster “can get on that”.

Many posts inform female students what their male peers would like to do to them, or are doing while watching them:

To the girl on the c+ floor with the red toshiba laptop… i was sitting next to you a few hours ago. I literally couldn’t take my hand out of my pants the whole time. [sic]

To the hot girl sitting opposite me on level 3, do you mind if I have a cheeky danger wank whilst looking at you?

To the sexy brunette on the 4th floor, will you be my girlfrien? I didn’t add the D because you’ll get that later.

 Others veer from sexual objectification towards bullying:

 To the girl in the floor 4 toilets, you’re not Niagara falls, at some point you’ve gotta stop flowing.

The fat bird standing by the printers on the first floor. Don’t want to shag, but could really do with a cuddle.

Is it all in good fun??

A National Union of Students study reveals that 68% of female students experience sexual harassment during their time at university, and one in seven are seriously physically or sexually assaulted. These statistics actually shocked me; I didn’t know this was the case, and I doubt many female students (current or future) would know either.

So, how harmless are such pages if they feed into a wider student culture which increasingly treats young women as sexual prey?

And, do such pages merely demonstrate, and ensure that sexual harassment infiltrates every part of the academic arena to the point that there are no limits?

I then wonder;

Does “Spotted” encapsulate a new culture of objectification, harassment and misogyny?

How can this freedom of speech be curtailed, or, should it be?

Is “Spotted” just boys being boys or is it more sinister than that?

If you or your daughter were on the receiving end of such grotesque comments, how would you react?

All I can say;

I am thankful “Spotted” didn’t exist when I was a student. It was daunting enough entering the new environment of a large university, leaving home, being frightened, unsure and anxious over everything. I certainly wouldn’t have appreciated contending with this form of bullying and harassment too.

“Spotted” is childish, dangerous, aggressive, soul destroying and cowardly; not the best way to demonstrate what a UK university education can teach you.

Perhaps, a little less lady spotting and a little more studying wouldn’t go amiss.    

The Servitude Of Service


I possess a fascination for all things historical, but especially those things which relate directly to my own family history.

Unlike most of my peers I took an avid interest in the stories that my grandparents, and great grandparents imparted to me about our families lives. They talked of a different time, a different world, but nevertheless what once transpired, what became collective experience, created a sort of ripple effect upon the lives of subsequent generations. This impact was so severe, the effects remian evident today.

My family is of mixed heritage and fortune. Some are Irish, English and of course Welsh. They have been rich, poor, immigrants, miners, ladies maids, officers, gentlemen and in business. Some have lived abroad and others never left their home town. They spoke foreign languages and played musical instruments, skills which they never thought to teach to the next generation.

In all of this history, throughout all of the stories two threads were always woven the deepest; poverty and domestic service.

Apparently one in ten of the current UK population had an ancestor who worked as a domestic servant. Not so surprising I think considering the perpetual imbalance between wealth, the staunch class division and poor educational standards of the past, if not the present too.

Poverty was, and is of course very real. Although now there are mechanisms in place to help alleviate such misfortune, in my grandparents and great grandparents lifetime this was not always the case. It was a very real threat to be poor, to be below the bread-line.

People couldn’t survive on benefits, they didn’t truly exist as we take them for granted now. People had scant opportunities if they were poor, often becoming a domestic servant or indeed being admitted into a workhouse was their only option.

When people now think of domestic service, the imagery which might spring to mind is the popular Downtown Abbey series or, as I prefer the 1970s British television series Upstairs Downstairs.

Yet, neither of these programmes are a true reflection of what life was like as someone else’s servant.

Below stairs gossip, flirtation, autonomy, opinions, democracy, individuality, freedom, holidays, good food, parties and camaraderie are all fictitious story lines to create good television.

A servant was seen as the other, them, the underclass. Even looked down upon by fellow working class people in other professions.

Servants new their place. They didn’t deign to question their place or to challenge their betters in society. They were the silent majority in the UK workforce.

Mistreatment was normal. Sexual, physical and verbal abuse was common place, and not always at the hands of their ’employers’ either.

Servants were often under paid, they held no employment rights, they ate left overs, were permitted no free time or holidays, no sick leave and no entitlement to medical care. They could be sacked for illness or any minor misdemeanour without reference, they couldn’t marry, their wages would be docked for anything broken or food wasted. They were controlled by their masters and mistresses, but also by the strict hierarchy of the below stairs staff chain of command.

Plus, it was a 24/7 365 days a year job or grind, with no real scope to develop or progress.

The life of a servant in comparison to other people in other forms of employment was vast. Being a servant was a different kettle of fish. Nothing compared then or now to what these people experienced and were subjected to.

A good servant would be deferential, know and accept their place, display loyalty, follow unquestioningly, never be seen to want or expect more, surrender themselves to be used and abused.

All of this indoctrination still lingers somewhere in my genetics, so much so, it frightens me! Yet, it doesn’t inspire me to listen or to comply, but to rebel.

My families history in service heralds as a warning. It made my family question their status, life, desires and wants. They were not comfortable ‘doffing’ their cap to their betters. Subsequent generations learnt the lessons of those in service, they were inspired to be the complete opposite of what their heritage and ancestry had told them to be. No longer were they content to be seen as somehow less of a person because of their class. They wanted their children to achieve, to be educated, to progress to go out into the world and claim a stake of it for themselves.

This whole rebellion against servitude in service still remains, as I have stated previously. I know it is derived from, and linked to my families experiences as house-maids, laundry-maids, ladies-maids and cooks. I suppose such ingrained ideals and attitudes just can’t be over-thrown at once, they tend to make an impression.

I look at my ancestors lives and still think; no one will treat me like that, I won’t be anyone’s servant.

I suppose this attitude should be celebrated, but, it also has a sting in the tail. It could be seen as a ‘chip on my shoulder’.

Any time I perceive I am being treated like an underling, I cannot accept it, it infuriates me. I have actually left jobs because I felt as though I was being treated like a servant and not an employee! No, I was beaten or whatever else, but sometimes employers do treat staff like usable and abusable, never ending resources. They often forget we are humans with rights. It can be all too similar to how servants were treated in the employ of Lords and Ladies. The echoes of these times too close for my comfort. In my opinion the attitude of the ‘master of the house’ hasn’t altogether left society, merely mutated into another form of abuse of power.

Sometimes though, I find myself envying the servants life. It was certain, it was a path deemed destined and people knew nothing more. Their aspiration were not as complicated as ours are today, their disappointments therefore not as many. It was what it was, a means to an end.

All things considered we look back with the luxury of hindsight, and think that they had to be thoroughly miserable. Yet, I actually believe they wren’t.

Who are we to really judge their lives on our standards! The other side of the coin can present another set of questions; is it better to be master of your own uncertain life, or a servant knowing your place, your path? Or, is it the case that we are all merely servants conning ourselves into thinking we have miracously become the masters? What in fact are we masters of? In reality how far has society fundamentally progressed since the time of domestic service?

Servants and masters, masters and servants; isn’t it all really the same thing in today’s world?

Learning Gender Roles Via The BBC


The BBC have recently been accused of sexism with their remake of children’s classic Topsy and Tim.

It was claimed by parents that the BBC misinterpreted the original children stories, and chose instead to reinforce traditional gender stereotypes, which were being aimed at very young children. The charecter Tospy is a little girl who is seen baking princess cakes with her Mum, while her Brother Tim is informed baking is not for him. As a boy he can play outside on his bike or help his Dad with “mans work”.

I wondered, as I have on many occasions before, how do we learn our ‘gender roles’? Is it nature or nurture, and how can we be sure?

Thinking of my own childhood, I recall never being compelled by my parents to be particularly ‘girlie’, and naturally I wasn’t this way either. I was always encouraged to just be me, and perhaps by being a headstrong child who knew what I liked, pressures to be ‘girlie’ (if they existed), never affected me. I therefore feel surprised that in the 21st century children are still being encouraged to mimic, and reflect, what their own parents deem to be acceptable gender specific stereotypes. It just seems almost self defeating and rather odd.

Why would any parent force their child to be anything, and ruin their own child’s ability to blossom and develop naturally, free of preconceived ideals laid down throughout the eons?!

What is so terrible about girls playing with cars and bikes, and boys playing with kitchens and dolls? Surely having diverse skills and interests make for more rounded and capable future adults?

I know if I had children, I would indeed encourage them to be them; who else can they be after all!

Don’t get me wrong, their is nothing wrong with traditional gender roles, if those people performing those roles are happy enough to do so. Yet, there is nothing wrong with mixing it up either!

Living in Madrid I see many more examples of the conventional family unit than I do in the UK. The wife cooks, cleans, takes care of the house and kids, while the man works, is head of the household, applies the discipline and often the education of the kids. This is almost expected and seen as the social norm.

Now my household has never been quite like this, to the surprise of the people I meet in Spain. People are shocked that I am interested in politics, and also that my degree, career and writing all have a political grounding. I have actually been told how unusual it is for a girl! Obviously they haven’t heard of Emily Pankhurst, Simone de Beauvoir, Eleanor Roosevelt, Margaret Thatcher, Naomi Wolf and Hilary Clinton; what about Eva Perón?

For me, applying any expectations upon a person, especially at a young and impressionable age, just becomes a simple case of the self fulfilling prophecy. You get what you expect. Women and men then become merely caricatures of their gender, nothing more than that! How can we then argue they are naturally as they should be?

Have women actually been able or allowed to genuinely break through that “glass ceiling”? Not if the 21st centuries depiction of gender is the reference point; a woman’s place is still at home, while the man still belongs to the world. This has to be true, the BBC even think so!

To be serious, in recent years it has been a giant step backwards for men and women alike. Adverts, marketing, media and society in general have peddled the over sexualisation of the younger generation. This has drip fed a generation with gender specific notions of beauty, relationships, sex and availability, youth, frivolousness, self obsession, celebrity culture, diets, gossip, fashion and materialism.

So, maybe reverting to the stereotypical gender roles is only the natural step forward from this re-education?

For me I feel it is difficult to distinguish, and therefore state concretely, how much of nature actually plays a part in a child’s socialisation, self perception and development. Especially with all the dross floating around their environment.

Think about how difficult it is for us as adults to really separate ourselves, and our choices from all the expectations applied upon us, what we have seen, learnt, experienced and absorbed into our psyche?

If it is so difficult for us as adults, the question then remains; how can a child?

Nature v’s nurture, for me there is no real contest to contest!

The Man-Child


Over grown, over educated (maybe even still in full time education whilst in their 30’s), living with family or friends (like some frat house experience), no commitment, if employed working on some type of made up position derived from some internship, opinionated, socially uncomfortable, self absorbed, full of their own self importance, stuck in their ways and clinging onto what they are used to, domineering, shifty body language, uncomfortable around women and women’s opinions.

The man-child.

Oh, and let us not forget when he cannot get people to succumb to his wants, needs, desires or whatever, he throws a tantrum. He demonstrates inappropriate anger in inappropriate ways to unsuspecting people.

Such a horrible specimen of ‘manhood’ was in my presence last night.

I have joined some social meet up groups within the Madrid area, and one of these was the Skeptics Group. Yes a skeptics group! Now usually I refrain form associating with Philosophers in general, why, well as a rule I have found them to be, I don’t want to generalise too much here; full of their own self importance, and of their own intellectual status. Yet, the group sounded interesting, so I thought I’d go along and see.

For some reason the organiser, the usual organiser, decided he couldn’t return from Germany for the meeting. So, he randomly nominated me as the stand in organiser for the meeting. As I explained to him, I was not familiar with Skeptical theory and it was my first meeting. Yet, this did not bother the organiser.

OK, well I assumed the group would be a nice bunch of individuals; understanding, able to listen, oh, and respectful of others. So, what the Hell, I gave it a go!

Throughout the meeting I felt a bad vibe from the only man in attendance (the friend, and associate of the actual group organiser). Now, the group was small, four including me – three women and one man. Yet, he wasn’t interested in us as people, he didn’t ask us anything about ourselves, our life or background. He was very clinical and odd. Strange body language, shifty and as though he wasn’t too happy with how the discussion was progressing.

Maybe he felt threatened by the female presence, frustrated he hadn’t been nominated stand in organiser by his friend (the actual organiser), perhaps he misconstrued some of what had been said (he was Spanish, and I think his English level wasn’t as good as he thought it was). I wonder if our native English tongue intimidated him, plus, the fact we didn’t necessarily agree with his opinions and views might have riled him too. Who can be sure!

It wasn’t until the conversation split; him and one woman, and me and the other woman present. I spoke only to say I had to leave soon, as I was tired, nothing much more. well, when I related this to him, he didn’t like this and decided to ‘flip out’. Only way to really describe it, he flipped out!

It was like he had been waiting patiently all night to say something, to cause an argument with me, and why, who knows, and who knows what bee was in in his bonnet!

Anyway, he accused me of lying, the reason I was leaving was another that I was too afraid to admit, I was being untruthful about my thoughts and feelings. I was concealing something from him!

What the………!! Did I just doze off, and wake only to find I had arrived in the Twilight Zone?

I had only just met him – two hours previous, and already he was convinced he knew my inner motives, he knew what I truly felt. I mean, if he had, he would have known I was thinking what a loser he was being at that particular moment! It seemed he was trying to depict me as this distrustful liar to the group for a reason. Wow, what insight, NO, what rude audacity!

I took it lightly, an argument with what was obviously an aggressive man was not on my list of ‘to do’s’ that day. So I said,
“Is he joking with me? He is fooling around right, he doesn’t mean it as I think he does”?
One of the women then replied,
“Yeah, he is fooling around, as no one would act like such an arse-hole” (jest intended to lighten the obvious prevailing bad atamosphere).

Oh dear, that was a mistake. He then turned his venom upon her.

Now my understanding of Spanish profanities is limited, as I am a lady 🙂 Yet, I am pretty damn sure he used everything in his arsenal to create one moment of utter hatred, which was aimed at an unsuspecting woman.

I was aghast. I was already standing up to go, and I could only just stand there, in complete shock. I didn’t know what the Hell he was playing at and why. I wondered whether it was a good idea to lurch across the table and spank him! Yet, the woman he spoke to with such a vile, and disgusting attitude was so calm; as too was the other woman witnessing it! They were cool and level headed, intelligent, articulate and capable women- admirable.

I was a little less cool; thinking and feeling, WTF!

For me, this is a massive NO! People, especially men, never speak to women as he was doing to this one. I was disgusted. I was shocked. I realised in that moment, this was no man, this was not a person worth my attention or time. He was nothing.

I told them all that I was leaving, and won’t be returning any time soon to a group with such a vile fool in attendance. It made no difference though, as he kept on; he had his argument, he was making himself feel better at any cost.

Intelligent, philosopher, man, human – NO, he was just an over grown child, an insecure and idiotic fool with a foul mouth.

I remember he said he had a blog. He said he had been writing about his attempts to meet a new person every week. What a sick joke! That was exactly what he was doing within the ‘skeptics group’, and look how he treated and responding to them, to us! God help those he does meet, they will be psychologically scared for life if he acts as he did with us!

This has made me really reconsider which groups I attend.

If there aren’t shouting bullies, there are pervy men trying their luck, and staring at your breasts and bum.

How am I ever supposed to meet nice, and genuine people in Madrid? Do they actually exist?

What this has suggested, though I hate to even consider it; women are never really able to go anywhere without feeling they maybe harassed at any moment.

Why is it men feel they have some power to weild over women?

Why can’t they just go out, and enjoy themselves free of being abusive bad mannerly fools, bombastic and opinionated chauvinists, and sexual predators?

Are all men really just versions of men-children?

As you can probably guess, I am still extremely annoyed by this ‘person’s’ behaviour. It has impressed some ‘downer’ upon me regarding human relationships, interactions and behaviour. Plus, this fool will never know nor admit he was in the wrong.

Also, to sum up the whole experience or night; the whole thing was some elaborate charade. It was some game set up by this nasty and foul mouth fool, and his friend the Skeptics Group organiser. It was as though they had planned such an end, it was as though they were setting us up for this, to test us in some way.

Sounds paranoid? Well, having witnessed the behaviour and considered the motives, and the things that just didn’t add up about the group, that weren’t bona fide about the night in general – this is my only conclusion. At least my conclusion isn’t a diatribe of disgusting profanities, though it could have been quite easily after what occurred!

Oh, and if you find yourself in Madrid, avoid the Skeptics Meet-up Group at all cost!

Anti Human Trafiicking Ad


A new concept to raise awareness of the global issue of human trafficking has just been released. An advert, which was filmed in the Amsterdam red light displays the ‘reality’ facing many of the cities sex workers.

What do think about adverts to raise awareness on such issues?

Does the advert make its point clear enough? Is it ‘hard hitting’ enough?

Will this raise new awareness about the global issue of human trafficking?

Take a look at the Youtube link to the advert, and give me your opinions please.

Is This Feminism?


image

Are bare breasts ever a weapon?

Are bare breasts instruments of political protest?

Are bare breasts able to make a direct difference to politics?

FEMEN, a Spanish branch of the feminist protest group founded by Ukrainian Inna Shevchenko, believe that bare breasts represent all of these things.

So, are semi naked protests the way forward for the feminist movement in the 21st century?

Well, I personally don’t think the naked body has anything to do with a protest of any description. I just wonder if it is merely an excuse to get officially naked publicly?

Perhaps the bare breasts detract from the actual message being delivered by the group.

I wonder what percentage of the population actually read the article specifically to discover what these women were protesting for. How many really read it solely for the bare breasts? Ummm, I wonder!

By the way, if you too are finding yourself absorbed by the bare breasts, and have missed the political message, I shall enlighten you – they are protesting against patriarchy.