A Side Order of Sexism With Your Evening Meal?

I heard this today:

A: “She’s got an arse that could swallow up a G-string”

B: “I’d smash her. As long as I didn’t have to look at her face”

A: “Or listen to her talk”

Sadly familiar, yes?

And possibly surprising when I tell you that it wasn’t a pair of sweaty oafish idiots in a greasy spoon, leering at Page 3, but a couple of well-dressed, middle-class, well-educated 15 year old boys, watching a female classmate innocently walk down the road in front of them.

I know that the “G-string” comment wasn’t an original thought, but rather came from the charming penmanship of Jay-Z in his misogyny-fest “Run This Town.” I can’t work out if it’s better or worse that it was a quote.

I don’t even know where to start with this. Appalled that the two boys – both of whom I know – could possibly think that their sentiment was acceptable. Appalled that the lyrics in the afore-mentioned song actually go like this:

“She got a ass that’ll swallow up a G-string,

And up top, uh, two bee stings”

and appalled that this isn’t news. Because conversations like the above are still commonplace even in 2013.

Why haven’t we improved at this, as a nation and as a society? When I was a child in the 1970s, the world was a very different place; “Comedian” Jim Davidson was allowed to perform a caricature of a West Indian man, hilariously named “Chalky White” complete with grotesque accent, and exaggerated facial expressions.Disability awareness was non-existent, being gay was an instant ticket to give to people to cover their asses. Literally. And women were chefs in the kitchen, mothers in the parlour and whores in the bedroom.

Time has moved on apace. It is no longer acceptable to be racist or xenophobic. It is absolutely not allowed to discriminate against people with disabilities, and gay people are people. Their sexual orientation is none of your damn business.

So why? Why is sexism, objectification and discrimination against women still socially acceptable? More than that – still promoted by the media? Why is it OK to make judgements about women because of the way that they look and on no other criteria? Why are sexist jokes about rape and abuse and violence still broadcastable and laughed at? Why is my lack of male genitalia a consideration for anything?

Even at the recent Oscars, host Seth Macfarlane sang an incredibly bizarre choice of comedy song to open the event. The content was “boobs.” Boobs in films. Reducing the work and skill and integrity of Hollywood’s finest (some of whom were, admittedly in on the hilarity) to whether or not they got their baps out for the camera. Puerile, juvenile, jokes for the boys as it was, the biggest mistake within the controversy, was the fact that in a peak of lazy songwriting, Seth managed to include a number of films where “boobs” were seen because the film was about the character being raped.

Still – a gag’s a gag, eh Seth? Way to reduce the impact of abuse, domestic violence and terror to a cheap laugh.

I have promoted the rather excellent No More Page 3 campaign a few times. It is interesting to read the comments from both supporters and detractors on their Facebook page. The issue certainly isn’t black and white, and opposers often have well-thought out comments to make. All of which are usually addressed by one of the fine women in charge of the site.

I support the campaign, because I cannot believe that this abomination exists in this 21st century world. I don’t care about the “side order of boobs with my porridge” argument, because I don’t buy the newspaper and read it with my breakfast. I don’t buy it, because I think it’s crap, not because of Page 3. But the point is, it is printed in glorious technicolour every single day, just so people can leer. In a newspaper. IN A NEWSPAPER. It is completely and utterly socially acceptable in our society, for men (or women?) to openly and outwardly leer at a picture of a semi-naked woman, and comment on what they would do to her, without fear of recrimination or embarrassment. In a society where people stare awkwardly at women breastfeeding their babies, and where restaurants ask nursing mothers to leave dining areas as it upsets other patrons.

Whatever your thoughts are on the removal of soft pornographic images from a well-read family newspaper, consider this: if there was a picture EVERY DAY on Page 3 of a disabled person, with a silly comment next to it, for no other reason other than the fact that they were disabled, or a black person posing – for no other reason other than the fact that they were black – if they were printed on a daily basis, with no connection to news, events or lifestyle, wouldn’t you stop and think: “why?”

Now, ask yourself that question about the fact that those Page 3 pictures exist just because they’re women. I bet I can predict your answers. I bet you’re not impressed with them.

I’d love to know what they are – please feel free to comment below?


The Bectora Guide to Parenting (Blogs)

I’ve read loads of blogs about parenting and I want to write one myself, because, to be completely honest, I find most of them a bit smug, or self-satisfying, or over-instructive or…forgiving.

I hate these forgiving blogs:

“It’s OK to sometimes feel stressed and take a moment for yourself – it doesn’t make you a bad parent”

“Leaving them to cry a little bit can be character building. Have a cup of wine tea, and don’t fret about it!

“Yes, sometimes it’s fine to feed them sweetcorn sandwiches and a Yorkie – all parents need time off”

And so on. What qualifies someone to judge or not judge? What qualifies an internet stranger to soothe your fears, when you were at the end of your tether and you…dan dan daaaaah…resorted to the dummy that you vowed NEVER to use, and tell you that it’s OK? It’s OK if you think it is. It’s not, if you don’t. The reality is, if you do something a bit iffy and you feel a bit guilty, chances are that it wasn’t the best choice that you’ve ever made. The chances are also that it wasn’t the worse thing that you’ll ever do. As people often quote: “kids don’t come with an instruction manual” and even after a few of them (kids, not instruction manuals), nobody is really qualified to tell you what is going to work best for your set-up. Why does everyone in this high-technology, information-garnering, computer-dependent world, need validation from someone they’ve never met, and who has no more clout on the subject than anyone else?

See, the thing is, it’s not the content of these blogs and columns that annoys me, as I’m sure there is plenty of practical and emotional advice and support that will reassure and comfort lots of people, which can’t be a bad thing. What annoys me is this: who set the author up as a guru or expert? What do I care what a random person who has had 5, 10 or 100 children thinks? Your experience and my experience are worlds apart, because unless you had a child at exactly the same age that I did, and unless that child has the same personality as mine, and unless you have the same job and working hours as me and my husband, and unless you own a crazy dog and a house that needs a new kitchen and unless you’re me – you have no idea what I need.

I am a really laidback kind of a parent. I often use laughter in place of discipline, and I’m a massive advocate of picking my battles. I am fully aware that my son may (or may not) struggle with issued instruction when he starts school, as a result of my parenting. I am also aware that he is healthy, robust, funny, well-rounded, bright as a button and happy. It works for us, and we’ll deal with the other stuff as and when it happens. It might not work for you.

I am an expert in parenting my own child. No one else’s just my own. And when I say “expert” I mean that I am an expert at doing it, because I am doing it all the time. I don’t mean that I’m really good at it.

I might be, for all I know. I might be the best parent in the whole entire world, but really that doesn’t give me the status required to tell other people what is OK and what isn’t, because all I do is what’s best for me, the husband and the son, and what we’re happiest with, and I imagine that has little bearing on your set-up.

For instance, let me tell you that my child is a wonderful sleeper. He always has been, right from day one. He loves his sleep, drifts off easily, rarely wakes up in the night, and when he does, he self-settles. He’s 3 and a half now, and we have had it easy. I mean, sure – there has been the odd spate of time where it hasn’t been quite so smooth. I have sung depressing renditions of “Golden Slumbers” “”Lullaby” and even “Sweet Child O’ Mine” at stupid O’ Clock in the morning. I vividly recall putting him in his cot, singing ever more softly and slowly and then creeping out, one socked-foot at a time, avoiding the 4 creaking floorboard obstacle course between his bed and the bedroom door. I remember going downstairs in our stupid aged house, wincing with every creak. I remember standing in his bedroom trying anything…ANYTHING to send him to sleep – closing the curtains, opening the curtains, switching the light on, switching it off, putting lullabies on, turning them off, trying white noise CDs, reading stories, fetching milk, warming it up, cooling it down, voices at whispering level for 4 hours after bedtime just in case, going to bed when he went to bed in case he decided to wake up, getting everything ready for the next morning because I had no clue what time my wake-up call would be, bringing him into my bed, despite promising I wouldn’t, because you pick your battles, plugging lavender-scented fresheners into every available socket…oh, hold on a minute. Maybe he wasn’t such a great sleeper after all.

Because, that’s the point, isn’t it? You forget. With children, things pass so quickly and time and development move on in the blink of an eye, so you forget the minutiae, and remember the bigger picture. I recall speaking to a friend of mine with a child the similar age. I had always said how great my son was at sleeping, she had always said how terrible her son was at sleeping, and I SO sympathised with her – she was SO tired all the time, and had no joy in the day with him. Until we actually broke down how the nights worked out for us both. It turned out that our children had a very similar pattern of sleeping and waking – but she and I viewed it in very different ways.

So I’ll stand by my declaration that my son was a wonderful sleeper, and no doubt my friend still thinks that her son was Damian in a Duvet, but the point is, neither one of us is qualified to tell the other what’s right. I remember far more good nights than bad, and so my overall memory of the experience was positive. Hers, the opposite. So, neither of us are really in a position to advise the other.

Look, I understand – sometimes you do want a bit of advice, and sometimes you do want someone to tell you that it really is all OK, but equally, all that is, is someone else’s opinion. They might not have got it right!

I reckon that parenting is a lottery. Chuck a dice in the air, and base a judgement on the number that is on the top. I can’t give any advice, because I have no clue what’s going on half the time, and I generally bumble through each day, and somehow we all seem OK at the end of it. If I ever want advice, I will almost probably definitely consult Dr Google, and I will no doubt feel vindicated (eventually) when I find a comment written by someone who feels a bit similar to me.

But please don’t tell me that “every parent has a bad day – tomorrow is a new dawn” or that you were smacked and it did you no harm. I wouldn’t get advice on my mortgage from someone who blogs about it, and that’s much less important than my son.

Sleep tight.

Facebook, Banality, Wit and Worrying

I have entered a potentially dangerously boring phase of my life – and you might be a future victim of it.

Allow me to explain;

I have always prided myself on my ability to communicate interesting things with relevance and humour. Not everyone is going to agree that this is the case, but by and large, I try and talk about interesting things in a way that people will engage in. It’s my thing. If you ask my nearest and dearest what my defining quality is, some will say I’m a performer, others will say I’m a bit of a (lapsed) comedian, but most will say I’m a writer.

I have spent long hours over many years, honing and perfecting a style of writing that I hope engages people, and ensnares them into reading whatever it is I have to say. I’ve never really been dull on Facebook, and have never posted a picture of my dinner with the words “nom, nom, nom” next to it. I’ve also never written “going to bed” or “my son used the potty today” or “nearly summer” or any kind of approximation of those violations against wit. I’m more likely to utilise colourful language to explain a dispute with an alarm company, or choice allegations against a poor tour operator. Or make a joke. I make a lot of jokes, and none of them are copied and pasted, unless I am quoting Monty Python, which is not a sin.

But this is all changing, and it is for two reasons.

1) My sister gave birth last week to my first nephew. I am overcome with emotion about this and.. I can’t help sharing it with people who probably don’t care

2) I am on a diet, and doing really rather well. I have refrained from posting my “results” thus far, and have not yet resorted to the attention-seeking “lost 4lbs whoop whoop” kind of bollocks that I’m always reading…but I’m dangerously close to doing so and will, no doubt, soon be sharing it with people who probably don’t care.

Facebook is mental. It’s just a place where anyone with access to the internet can show off a pile of random crap to all and sundry. Some conversations that people have on Facebook, completely enthral me with their banality and stupidity, and right at the top of my Facebook fist-itching hates, are:

  1. Photographs of someone’s boring wanky dinner, described (as mentioned) by “nom” or “yum.” Especially “nom.”
  2. Boring, boring, boring commentary-style statuses, whereby “friends” narrate their every dullsville move throughout a given time period
  3. Enigmatic, moody attention-seeking postings along the lines of: “So fed up by it all.” or “Well, that’s it. Don’t mess with me, because you’ll regret it.” These are inevitably followed by baa-lamb responses (usually around 7-10 in number) of “what’s wrong, babe?” “what’s up?” “what’s happened?” And let me tell you, if you – the status originator – then respond with: “I’ll inbox you,” then you will move several notches up my shit-list.
  4. Poor grammar and spelling. This includes bloody text-speak, and “lol.”                                                                                      YOU ARE NOT LAUGHING OUT LOUD. AND I WOULD WAGER THAT YOU HAVE NEVER EVER IN YOUR LIFE ROLLED ON THE FLOOR LAUGHING. AND IF YOUR ARSE IS STILL ATTACHED TO YOU, YOU’VE NEVER LAUGHED THAT OFF EITHER. This section also includes those of you who write a couple of angry sentences about something or someone that has pissed you off, and then end it with “rant over.”  Point 1) It probably wasn’t a rant – we know a rant when we see one. Point 2)  If you have to tell us it was over, then it was a bad rant, and probably wasn’t one anyway. See Point 1.
  5. The constant posting of stupid copied pictures and “thought of the day” type crap. I don’t mind something funny or relevant or newsworthy, but I am so sick of “don’t forget who you trod on, on the way up, as they’ll be there to meet you on the way down” kind of crap. Yawn. If you can’t think of something intelligent, poignant or impressive yourself, then just post a picture of a cat yawning.
  6. Pictures of cats yawning
  7. Racist or sexist or inciteful or offensive or insulting or disablist lazy Daily Mail type shite.
  8. Constant updates on the progress of your children. They are amazing. To you. You honestly don’t need to tell us “I love my boys” every 5 minutes. We’ll just assume that you do
  9. People who post c&p statuses where you are supposed to feel guilty if you don’t repost it immediately, because it is in aid of cancer/babies dying/autism or whatever. These end in “99% of people won’t post – will you?” …     “No” would be the short answer. This also includes the rounds of “Facebook is changing its privacy settings…please read on if you don’t want your privacy compromised…” bollocks. It is untrue. www. snopes.com. Seriously.
  10. People who post EVERY SINGLE PHOTOGRAPH THAT THEY EVER TAKE. Even if they’re blurred, upside down, identical to the last 6 that were posted, of nothing, and crap. This includes people who pout. Sort through your photos, people.

I could go on, but I don’t know if anyone is still here? The thing is, I use FB all the time. And I’m probably more than guilty of other people’s pet hates, and no doubt there are people who block me from time to time, because they can’t be arsed with my moany campaign statuses. But if there is one thing I can’t stand, it is hackneyed, trite, unoriginal banality, and I have a (fairly low key) one-woman mission to inject a bit of humour into a Facebook day.

Well, I did. Until now.

So, please, those of you who are friends with me on FB – do enjoy my upcoming regular updates on my nephew’s bowel movements, and how cute and small he is. I will accompany them with photographs. And, in a couple of months, you will have my weight loss progress to look forward to, because I’m holding the announcements in by the skin of my teeth only.

I know you’re not really interested. I’m not interested in much of what I read on Facebook either. But, we’re there and we’re using it, so it’s going to happen. Read it, roll your eyes, and mourn the passing of my witticisms, because …here comes boring.

Rant over.

You Shouldnt Of Gone Their. (Agh, my eyes….my eyes…)

I am a pedant. And I judge people who don’t use correct grammar and punctuation.

And I am aware that I am setting myself up for criticism here, because, having announced the above, I really need to ensure that this post is 100% accurate. Not 110%, because THAT’S NOT A THING, but 100%. Accurate.
Here’s the thing; I just get annoyed at common mistakes that people shouldn’t make. I’m not talking about knowing everything about syntax and word order, or even subject and verb agreements and the rules of punctuation and spacing. I’m not even talking about (and here, I shudder) “text speak”, because I do understand that space and time are premium on much social networking.

No, I am talking about your basic, bog-standard errors, where people should bloody well know better.

For example:

  • There. Their. They’re.

They may sound the same – but they don’t mean the same thing. Putting the wrong one of them in a sentence, will change the meaning of the sentence:
  It’s over there/That is theirs/They’re over there, with their children

  • Could have. Should have. Would have.

Not Could of. Should of. Would of. < These don’t mean anything. It is HAVE.

  • Your and You’re

That is yours/You’re right. It is.

Look, basically, stick an apostrophe in when you’re (you are) replacing a letter. Simple.
I could go on about this for hours on end, citing examples and getting wound up about approximately 75% of my “friends” on Facebook, but I won’t. There are forums and places for people like me, where we can be outraged and incredulous together, and laugh smugly at all the people who get things wrong, and despair at the future. So don’t worry about that – I’m covered in my pedantry.

But, I will leave you with this photograph, as it is the reason I was thinking about bad grammar, spelling and punctuation today.

If you’re a teenager on a social networking site, or a person who wants to spout vitriol on a You Tube video, or a forum contributor, who doesn’t have spell check, then, to be honest, I am a little bit annoyed at you, but I won’t let it bother me. It’s your webspace, your issue and your problem. Or not. And it won’t make huge amounts of difference to my daily life, other than to contribute to a general sighing on my part.

If you are a multi-national company, with branding across the globe, and product placements and advertising within reach of millions of people, then mistakes like this are unforgivable: photo

Sort yourself out, Galaxy. Or You’reself. So their.


















If you didn’t get it – this should say: “When you buy this Galaxy Bubbles pack, you’re helping to reduce…”