All entries by this author

“Why do you dress her like a boy?”

May 12th, 2016 10:53 am | By

This is a bit of gender-enforcement that I hadn’t heard of before – “gender reveal” ceremonies. Say what?

Slate writer Jessica Winter has a toddler, and stranger’s get worked up about her Gender Status.

“Why do you dress her like a boy?” demanded a man in the jewelry section of H&M while my kid—in a red sweatshirt, jeans, and gray-and-purple sneakers—rummaged through a pile of tassled earrings. The man was trying to be polite, but he also seemed affronted by his own confusion—and affronted by me, I suppose, for causing his confusion. “She looks like a boy!” he insisted, repeatedly. The only response I could think of was the shrugging one I gave: “She looks like herself.”

Girls and … Read the rest

Get out the ducking stool

May 11th, 2016 5:37 pm | By

This again. A woman has the unmitigated temerity to have a job as political editor for the BBC – a job that had previously always belonged to a man. Someone draws up a petition to get her fired, and – surprise surprise! – it attracts the usual torrents of sexist abuse. In other news, some grass grew today.

The majority of those signing and supporting the petition expressed concerns about what they saw as biased reporting of the Labour party and its leader Jeremy Corbyn by Kuenssberg. However, some supporters on social media used abusive and sexist language in calling for the BBC’s first female political editor to go.

Of course they did. It is not possible for people … Read the rest

Extra challenges

May 11th, 2016 4:16 pm | By

Let’s hark back to May 2011, to a Comment is Free piece by Evan Harris on the religious exemptions to the Equalities Act.

The Guardian has reported on those questioning the wisdom of contracting religious groups to deliver key public services. The government’s “big society” initiative – it still seems too unfocused to call it policy – has, as one of its aims, the transfer of the delivery of some public services to voluntary sector providers on a greater scale than is currently the case.

It was envisaged by both this and the previous government that faith groups would be some of the new providers. It seems unjustified to argue against religious organisations providing public services, as it is

Read the rest

Faithful and regular worshippers

May 11th, 2016 12:00 pm | By

The British Humanist Association reports something I find completely astonishing.

A pupil in Telford has been told that he cannot ride a council-run bus to school along with his classmates because ‘he’s not Catholic’, it has been reported. The bus serves the Holy Trinity Academy in Priorslee, which was opened in 2015 jointly by the local Roman Catholic and Anglican dioceses, and despite the bus being operated by Telford and Wrekin Council, it is not open to children at the school who are either not religious or belong to a minority religion.

What on earth? The boy attends the school and the bus is run by the council (i.e. it’s public) but he can’t ride on it because he’s … Read the rest


May 11th, 2016 11:47 am | By

Jesus and Mo last week:

The Patreon.… Read the rest

Mythology rules

May 11th, 2016 11:17 am | By

Julie Bindel on the reality of what prostitution does to women:

It seems that everyone has an opinion on prostitution, but few know very much about it. That is certainly what I found in researching my book on the global sex trade. Mythology, rather than informed opinion, rules.

I am told on a regular basis that criminalising any aspect of the sex trade will “force it underground” – something that does not happen for the simple reason that the punters need to find it. I hide my despair at hearing, for the millionth time, that if men cannot access paid sex they will be forced to find a woman to rape, which is tantamount to arguing that men have

Read the rest

Should bosses be able to force women to bind their feet?

May 11th, 2016 9:44 am | By

The BBC asks: Is it legal to force women to wear high heels at work?

If it is it certainly shouldn’t be. High heels are a form of foot-binding, and forced foot-binding should never be legal. People should be strongly discouraged from binding their own feet, and entirely forbidden to bind or demand the binding of anyone else’s.

A 27-year-old woman working for a City firm in London says she was sent home for refusing to wear high heels. But is this legal, fair or healthy?

Nicola Thorp says she was laughed at when she told her bosses that she didn’t want to wear high heels on her first day as a corporate receptionist.

“I was expected to do

Read the rest


May 10th, 2016 5:09 pm | By

From My Stealthy Freedom:

Her name is Gabriella. She is only two years old. She is a British citizen and went to Iran to visit her grandparents, but her passport was confiscated by the Islamic Republic of Iran after she attempted to return to the UK.

Her mother, Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a 37-year-old project manager with the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the news agency’s charitable arm, was arrested in early April in Tehran by members of Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guard at Imam Khomeini airport, where she and her daughter, Gabriella, were about to board a flight back to the UK.

So our question is the following: why has the Islamic republic confiscated a two year-old girl’s passport? Why is she banned

Read the rest

Hey it’s only voting rights for half the population

May 10th, 2016 5:03 pm | By

Via @tkingdoll and @ccriadoperez

Read the rest

Horrified that the hospital could get away with this

May 10th, 2016 4:47 pm | By

One story from the ACLU report:

Jennafer and Jason Norris were shocked to learn in 2014 that Jennafer was pregnant after a rare birth control failure. They had recently moved to Rogers, Arkansas, for Jason’s work, and Jennafer had happily returned to the workforce now that her two children were in school. Jennafer did not realize that her contraception had failed and that she was pregnant until she was eight weeks along and experiencing symptoms of preeclampsia, which she recognized from her first two pregnancies. It was mixed news: Jennafer and Jason were excited to expand their family, but very worried about her health.

The pregnancy was difficult from the start. Jennafer spent six weeks on bedrest, making it

Read the rest

Despite staunch opposition from the U.S. bishops

May 10th, 2016 4:13 pm | By

Damn. Honesty compels me to retort to my own angry post about Sister Carol Keehan’s response to the ACLU report. I had the thought of emailing her to ask how it’s possible for Catholic hospitals to do both: to obey the ERD and perform abortions…and by doing that I found she’s not a heartless episcopal mouthpiece. So in all fairness here’s another view of Carol Keehan:

Sister Keehan, who earned a bachelor of science degree in nursing from St. Joseph’s College in Emmitsburg, Md., and a master of science degree in business administration from the University of South Carolina in Columbia, has watched medicine evolve and new policies rise. She has demonstrated unwavering commitment to the mission of providing

Read the rest

Guest post: Washington is broken. Please elect me to burn it to the ground.

May 10th, 2016 3:45 pm | By

Originally a comment by AJ Milne on One man’s narcissism and divisiveness.

A sort of popular nihilism–this ‘everything is broken, so let’s just get it over with and burn it down’ thing–has showed up quite a lot, of late, among those effectively arguing for electing Trump. Been kinda hard to miss. Got one of those in my immediate circle. Quelle surprise.

What’s also kind of hard to miss is:

1) It’s hardly especially dissonant with lines right-wing politicians especially have been selling for decades, now. It’s a pretty standard campaign. Washington is broken. Please elect me to burn it to the ground. A really hardly exotic GOP playbook prepared the ground for Trump, much as some of them insist … Read the rest

The Catholic PR machine lumbers into action

May 10th, 2016 12:37 pm | By

The Catholic Health Association (what a ridiculous oxymoron) has put out a statement responding to the ACLU/MergerWatch report, written by Sister Carol Keehan, President and CEO.

A recent report from the American Civil Liberties Union and Merger Watch makes claims about how pregnant women are treated in Catholic hospitals. These allegations, some of which have been the subject of since-dismissed lawsuits, are both unsubstantiated and irresponsible. To frighten families with scary, one-sided stories and exaggerated data is grossly disrespectful to the thousands of physicians, midwives and nurses working in Catholic hospitals who are so devoted to their patients and to the care they deliver.

Note that she doesn’t say they’re untrue.

And it’s not in the least disrespectful, because … Read the rest

Merging away our rights

May 10th, 2016 11:54 am | By

Judy Stone at Forbes on a new report by the ACLU and MergerWatch on the Catholic takeover of medical services in the US and what that does to women’s right to get medically appropriate care.

A disturbing new report from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and MergerWatch, “Health Care Denied,” finds that one in six hospitals in the U.S. are operated in accordance with Catholic religious rules, known as the Ethical and Religious Directives (ERDs).

While perhaps best known for prohibiting abortion, the restrictions go far beyond that, and impact more than reproductive health.

For women, the impact can be deadly.

Abortions are prohibited even if the fetus has no chance of survival and the mother’s

Read the rest

The Trumps respond graciously

May 9th, 2016 6:02 pm | By

Life in the Time of Trump.

Julia Ioffe has filed a report with the D.C. police department over the anti-Semitic threats that she received — many from apparent Trump supporters — after writing a penetrating profile of Melania Trump in GQ.

The larger “public narrative” here is almost a year old. Since last June, Donald Trump has run a presidential campaign on bigotry, racism, sexism and frat-house insults. The show has attracted the interest and endorsement — surprise! — of white nationalist groups and figures such as David Duke, a former KKK official. At pretty much the same time, Trump has made a vocation of hammering media coverage of his candidacy, pointing with disdain at offending camera operators

Read the rest

What Pakistan wouldn’t print

May 9th, 2016 5:18 pm | By

Here’s that piece Mona Eltahawy wrote, in the New York Times. It’s about the burden of virginity religion imposes on women, and the frustration of women who don’t want to marry or haven’t yet found someone they want to marry, but don’t want to miss out on sex either.

Remembering my struggles with abstinence and being alone with that, I determined to talk honestly about the sexual frustration of my 20s, how I overcame the initial guilt of disobedience, and how I made my way through that guilt to a positive attitude toward sex.

It has not been easy for my parents to hear their daughter talk so frankly about sex, but it has opened up a world of

Read the rest

A blank space

May 9th, 2016 4:30 pm | By

Pakistan censored a piece that Mona Eltahawy wrote about Muslim women and sex.

Mona Eltahawy, an award-winning Egyptian-American journalist and campaigner for women’s rights, wrote an opinion column, “Sex talk for Muslim women”, that was published by the International New York Times on Friday.

The article was available online in Pakistan, but the newspaper version, which should have been published in the opinion section of the local Express Tribune, was replaced by a blank space.

Eltahawy told AFP that the decision to ban her article was an example of how Pakistan’s authorities think a woman “who claims ownership over her body is dangerous … and must be silenced”.

Of course they do. Women get pregnant; that means they have to … Read the rest

One must wonder if they are always so particular

May 9th, 2016 11:58 am | By

Meet Miriam Ben-Shalom:

Miriam Ben Shalom was a pioneer in the fight against the U.S. military’s policy of excluding lesbians, gay men, and bisexuals. Born in Waukesha, Wisconsin, she married, had a daughter, and later converted to Judaism. After serving in the Israeli Army, she enlisted in the Army Reserves in 1974, but was dismissed in 1976 when she came out as a lesbian. Ben Shalom fought her dismissal through the courts, winning favorable decisions at the U.S. District Court (1980) and Appeals Court (1987) level. In 1988, she became the first open lesbian reinstated in the U.S. military. However, a new federal Appeals court ruling in 1989 supported the Army’s dismissal of her, and the Supreme Court refused

Read the rest

People in Tooting

May 9th, 2016 11:05 am | By

Sadiq Khan said some interesting things about hijab last month.


Khan, who became the first Muslim cabinet minister in Gordon Brown’s government in 2009, warned of an “insidious” development if people thought it was right to treat women differently to men.

In an interview with the London Evening Standard, the frontrunner in next month’s mayoral contest contrasted the way Muslim women dressed when he was growing up in London in the 1970s and 80s with the way many women dressed today.

Khan, 45, said: “When I was younger you didn’t see people in hijabs and niqabs, not even in Pakistan when I visited my family. In London we got on. People dressed the same. What you see now

Read the rest

Withdrawing room 4

May 8th, 2016 6:21 pm | By

It’s time for a new one.

Anybody seen Train Wreck? I haven’t, but I saw about half an hour of it (starting ten minutes in) last night, expecting to like it and being confounded in that expectation. I didn’t find any of the part I saw remotely funny, and I did find at least three scenes downright ugly as well as not funny – so I stopped watching.

I expected to like it because I’ve liked Amy Schumer in the past, but I didn’t know (until I Googled today) it was directed by Judd Apatow. I can’t stand Judd Apatow.

Jonathan Romney at the Guardian didn’t like it much.

The film slightly suffers from Apatow’s characteristic taste for improv

Read the rest