Notes and Comment Blog

Accused of witchcraft

Sep 3rd, 2016 11:10 am | By

Leo Igwe tells us:

A victim of witchcraft accusation and witchcraft related violence in KENYA NEEDS YOUR HELP!

A 24-year-old woman is fighting for her life at Maua Methodist Hospital in Meru after her hand was chopped off and her private parts bruised after she was accused of witchcraft.

Mercy Nyoroka was assaulted for allegedly bewitching her neighbour and child at Kathelwa area, Igembe Central Sub County.—–

They later brought her back to her kitchen with deep wounds on her head and private parts. Her hand was also chopped off.

Richard Ntoiti, the victim’s husband, says he had gone to buy milk when his wife was abducted by the attackers.

Ntoiti, who is a casual labourer, is now appealing for help to cater for his wife’s treatment.

Who gets to name the parts

Sep 2nd, 2016 5:17 pm | By

Purple Sage has a post on a new “Safer Sex” guide for trans people. Read it all; I want to share a couple of her points here.

The guide begins by defining some terms:

“We, as trans people, use a variety of words to describe our gender and our body parts, and these words can be very unique and personal. There’s no one right way to refer to our bodies, but to keep things consistent in this guide, we’ve decided to use the following words in the following ways.

PARTS: We use this word when we’re talking about genitals or sexual anatomy of any kind.

DICK: We use this word to describe external genitals. Dicks come in all shapes and sizes and can belong to people of all genders.

FRONT HOLE: We use this word to talk about internal genitals, sometimes referred to as a vagina. A front hole may self-lubricate, depending on age and hormones.

STRAPLESS: We use this word to describe the genitals of trans women who have not had genital reconstruction (or “bottom surgery”), sometimes referred to as a penis.

VAGINA: We use this word to talk about the genitals of trans women who have had bottom surgery.

See what they did there? Women have “front holes” but trans women have vaginas.

Is that, finally, obvious enough misogyny that people will get it?

Then there’s some very creepy shit about “transactional sex” which is what they call prostitution.

This guide talks about consent, which is good, but look how they throw in a sentence about “transactional sex.”

“Consent is the enthusiastic, mutual and voluntary agreement to do whatever activity you’re discussing. Giving consent is an ongoing process: You always have the right to say “yes” or “no” to any sexual activity regardless of whether you’ve done it before, whether you know your partner really likes it or whether you’re in the middle of doing it. We also recognize that transactional sex complicates consent. If at any point you change your mind about doing something, you should say so and your partner needs to stop.”

And johns always stop when the sex worker changes her mind, as is well known. There is no violence in the “transactional sex” industry, however much transactional sex complicates consent. And I’m Marie of Rumania.

In their section on communication, they talk about “transactional sex” again:

“We recognize that communication can be complicated with transactional sex partners. In some cases, the recognition of the sex transaction can actually help frame sexual negotiation, but power and control dynamics can also make this more challenging. Hopefully, ongoing communication can help us have sexual experiences where we all feel safe and respected.”

Hopefully! Yeah! Let’s hope so! Let’s just keep hoping so forever, while the johns beat up the sex workers and nobody gives a damn. Hopefully all that will stop one of these days.

And then there’s the BDSM part, but I’ll let Purple Sage tell you about the knives and blades and what she thinks the correct advice is. (Spoiler: don’t use them.)

Everyday soap will do

Sep 2nd, 2016 4:11 pm | By

Yes! The FDA has banned anti-bacterial soaps.

Antibacterial soaps were banned from the US market on Friday in a final ruling by the Food and Drug Administration, which said that manufacturers had failed to prove the cleansers were safe or more effective than normal products.

Dr Janet Woodcock, director of the FDA’s center for evaluation and research, said that certain antimicrobial soaps may not actually serve any health benefits at all.

“Consumers may think antibacterial washes are more effective at preventing the spread of germs, but we have no scientific evidence that they are any better than plain soap and water,” she said in a statement. “In fact, some data suggests that antibacterial ingredients may do more harm than good over the long term.”

Let me guess – they may do more harm over the long term for the same reason overuse of antibiotics does: the bacteria evolve to withstand the soaps, so then they’re that much harder to get rid of.

The FDA first proposed a rule about the chemicals in 2013, following research that they might affect human hormones or change natural resistance to bacteria. The agency requested research from the producers to back up their health claims, but in the three years since has found that data lacking or their requests ignored.

Triclosan has been proven effective at killing bacteria if used at sustained length – far longer than the few seconds most people spend washing their hands – and was once only found in healthcare settings.

Recent studies have linked triclosan to a series of disruptions in human and animal health. A University of Chicago study released in July found that triclosan changed the microbiome inside human guts, and its researchers suggested that exposure could damage developing fetuses. A study from earlier this year found that overuse could also be contributing to antibiotic resistance, and a 2015 studyfound that antibacterial formulas were not more effective than soap and water.

So if they’re not more effective, it’s a really bad idea to use then when they could be contributing to antibiotic resistance, eh?

Professor Patrick McNamara, who has published research on antimicrobial soaps, called the ruling “logical” because research shows “there is no added benefit to having these antimicrobial chemicals in soaps”.

He added that triclosan could play a part in driving antibiotic resistance, saying, “after these chemicals are used in our homes they go down the drain to wastewater treatment plants and eventually to the environment where they can select for antibiotic resistance genes”.

“In short, triclosan and triclocarbon present a risk towards propagation of antibiotic resistance,” he said. “Since they do not offer added benefits when washing hands, their use is not worth their environmental risk.”

Thank you FDA.

So many identities they won’t fit in the basket

Sep 2nd, 2016 3:57 pm | By

Unintentional humor at Everyday Feminism, chapter 47 thousand-something.

It’s a long long long long piece by a person explaining that person is unlike everyone else and very very interesting.

Once upon a time, the term asexual served the purpose of covering anyone and everyone who didn’t feel so inclined to marry, to romance, to fuck. Homosexual, heterosexual, and asexual were the only labels worth mentioning, and covered all necessary categories.

Or so we thought.

And then along came my fabulous and ridiculously queer self, balancing on that liminal edge beyond which more precise, more nebulous, and more complicated labels lay – and I’m not the only one.

Not the only one, and yet so special and magical all the same.

And then, I finally found the term through which all of my other identities fully crystallized: aromantic.

See, people had been calling me cold, weird, distant, and pretty much every synonym for “unloving” that could possibly exist. This made little sense to me. I felt so much, so incredibly deeply. I simply didn’t express it like others did. I didn’t define my relationships by hierarchy or escalation but by the ways we grew alongside one another, the ways our minds and emotions entwined yet never merged.

Needless to say, my noetisexual self dove deep into the murky waters of the asexual community to uncover the treasures hidden along the silted bottom. The aromantic experience and identity lay there waiting, through a tunnel leading into new waters, new territory – connected and yet distinct.

Isn’t the writing just byoooootiful?

No, it isn’t.

Person goes on that way for what looks like about 20 thousand words. I skimmed because there’s nothing interesting about it. It’s funny though the way it’s written as if all this is based on something, as opposed to being just spun out of person’s whimsy.

While there is some overlap between the ace and aro communities, they’re actually separate and distinct. For instance, even though I happen to be both an ace and aro, I find I have more in common with other aros than with other aces.

I found that there are other aces who still want to marry, still value romance over friendship, and still buy into harmful amatonormative ideals. Aros, though, tend to eschew the rituals of courtship, the escalation of romantic relationships, and are a bit more anarchic when it comes to the formation and intensity of each relationship.

Isn’t that fascinating?

No, it’s not. (Mind you, there are interesting things to say about the marriage turn and mainstreaming, but these things aren’t among them.)

Author’s blurb tells us author contains multitudes:

Michón Neal has so many identities they won’t fit here. Ze writes a mix of scifi, fantasy, erotica, and autobiography called cuil fiction about unique people in unique circumstances, with characters running the gamut of non-monogamous and LGBTQIA+ spectrums. That’s right: queer and poly fiction! Ze is currently working on the Cuil Effect project, a ridiculously long tale about healing, absurdity, and all the different ways people interact. You can find more details, sneak peaks, links, and absurdity on hir blog, Shadow in the Mirror. Ze also invented the only class on Intersectional Non-Monogamy and is the co-editor for Postmodern Woman.

That gamut is a very limited gamut.


Sep 2nd, 2016 12:16 pm | By

A new horror in the murder of Samia Shahid: she was raped before being murdered.

A British woman who died in Pakistan in a so-called honour killing was raped before her death, the officer in charge of the investigation has said.

Samia Shahid, 28, from Bradford, died in July in northern Punjab.

The Pakistani chief investigator also told the BBC Ms Shahid’s father and former husband carried out her murder.

He added he was seeking to have her mother and sister returned to Pakistan to be questioned about their role in the murder.

She never wanted to marry him in the first place. She was forced to marry him. She left him, and divorced, and married someone she did want to marry. For that he first raped her and then killed her.

The depth of hatred just never ceases to amaze me.

Exhibition Road

Sep 2nd, 2016 11:04 am | By

A friend went to the Science Museum – you know, the prototype one, the original one, the one in South Kensington. The friend took pictures of an exhibit. I got permission to share them. They’re from a Wellcome Trust exhibition, Who Am I?

“Who am I?” is a somewhat odd question for a science museum. Science can tell us what we are but not really who. Who questions are conceptual rather than scientific.

“Gender identity” isn’t a scientific term. It’s political. It’s maybe literary, maybe philosophical; it’s conceptual…but it’s not scientific.

“Identity” too is not scientific. “Feeling” male or female is not scientific.

Not science.

Nothing but a whitewash

Sep 2nd, 2016 9:50 am | By

A press release from Maryam and One Law for All:

Dear Mona Siddqui

RE: Independent Review into Sharia Law

Thank you for your invitation to give evidence to  the Sharia review.

We will not be able to accept your invitation. We are boycotting the review because of its limited terms of reference; the panel makeup (including yourself – a theologian – as chair and a former Judge who is a member of the Christian Lawyers Fellowship); imams as ‘advisors’; and your labelling the legitimate concerns of women’s rights campaigners and organisations as ‘arrogant’. The above confirm our fears that the review will be nothing but a whitewash aimed at further legitimising parallel legal systems at the expense of women’s rights.

Our concerns have been clearly laid out in an open letter to the then Home Secretary signed by nearly 200 prominent women’s rights campaigners and organisations to which we have yet to receive a response.

As mentioned in the open letter, minority women deserve an independent, impartial, judge-led inquiry centred on human rights and not theology. Theologians and those invested in augmenting religion’s role in the law cannot impartially investigate a system from which they benefit. As testimonies gathered from women reveals, religion in the law is discriminatory particularly against women. Any review that does not look into the full extent of rights violations of Sharia bodies from a human rights perspective cannot be considered a legitimate review nor taken seriously.


Maryam Namazie, Spokesperson, One Law for All

Gina Khan, Spokesperson, One Law for All

BM Box 2387, London WC1N 3XX, UK

tel: +44 (0) 7719166731



It’s horrifying that this is going ahead.

México jamás pagaría por un muro

Sep 1st, 2016 4:53 pm | By

Mexico’s President Enrique Peña Nieto isn’t helping Trump with his story about that pesky wall and who is picking up the tab for it. Trump says they didn’t talk about paying the bill, but Peña Nieto says they did.

“Who pays for the wall? We didn’t discuss,” Trump had said when asked by a reporter during a news conference following their meeting in Mexico City. “We did discuss the wall. We didn’t discuss payment of the wall. That’ll be for a later date.”
But Peña Nieto later claimed the two had discussed the wall and who would pay for it — and he had “made it clear” to Trump it wouldn’t be Mexico.

So that’s embarrassing.

In subsequent interviews in Mexico, Peña Nieto reiterated his version of events. He told CNN affiliate Televisa in an interview late Wednesday some of the positions Trump has taken “are a threat to Mexico.”

He also told the outlet he was very clear with Trump about the subject of a wall at the border and insisted Mexico would not pay for it and he made Trump aware that the people of Mexico had been “very insulted.”

A triumph of diplomacy, in short.

He tweeted it again today.

So Trump has been lying again – and doing it very ineptly and in the open. Why wouldn’t we want someone like that as president?!

Trump’s claim that they didn’t discuss who would pay for the wall — despite his call for Mexico to finance it being a central theme of his campaign and one he frequently uses to fire up his supporters — appeared to be a noteworthy omission from Wednesday’s conversation when he mentioned it at their joint appearance.

The cost is one that Peña Nieto has previously refused to shoulder, just one of many issues where the two men have clashed. Peña Nieto, who has previously compared Trump to Adolf Hitler, greeted him courteously and said he was committed to working with whomever Americans elect as their next president in November.

But turning the tables on Trump, he gave the billionaire an earful on trade, said illegal immigration from Mexico to the US peaked years ago and complained of the torrent of guns that he said crossed the border and worsened Mexico’s drug wars.

Wait wait wait wait – that can’t be right. The US can’t be any kind of problem for Mexico – that would be a violation of nature.

Guest post: Imagine that women are people

Sep 1st, 2016 1:29 pm | By

Originally a comment by Maureen Brian on Approaching a woman in a confident, easy going way.

As Samantha says, listen to women.

Do you go up to men reading and demand that they talk to you, that they flirt with you even? Do you go up to men out jogging and demand that they converse with you on the basis of no known common interest? Do you get all het up and defensive when you try to start a conversation and the man walks away? Probably not but the way you are addressing this issue suggests that you might just be daft enough.

When women are interested in making new friends and acquaintances they put themselves into social situations where casual conversation is easy – a bar, a hobby club, something like that – but no-one is under any obligation to begin or to continue any particular conversation, to stay while the other person bores them to death or to agree to see them privately.

You, though, seem to be trying to put some random woman into a position where she is obliged to put your sexual curiosity ahead of all other considerations. It’s not on!

As for “faint heart never won fair lady” do you even know where that notion comes from? Think France in the fourteen century and the cultural aberration which produced the troubadours. Sure, that produced some middling poetry and some slightly better songs but it was a game played by the elite and was almost entirely played in people’s heads. It involved men getting or pretending to get a crush on a woman of high social status and drooling poetically all over her, knowing that she had the clout to get him beaten up, locked up or disappeared if he went too far. It was a game of “how far dare I go” and does not translate to the New York subway or wherever in the twenty-first century.

There is another way of going about this if you’d be interested. Imagine that women are people. They are on the way to, say, an interview or having a last read of their brief before they appear in court. Or they might just be trying to pick up the bread and milk on the way home to feed the kids. It doesn’t matter. No matter how superficially you may be attracted to someone at first glance she owes you nothing. Stop trying to remake the world so that she does. Stop trying to convince us? yourself? that women like it. We don’t. And look out for all those signals which say, before you open your mouth, I do not wish to speak to you.

If you can understand a clenched fist coming towards you then you can understand earbuds or hunched shoulders, a refusal to make eye contact. If you try.

All five restrictions disproportionately affected African Americans

Sep 1st, 2016 12:42 pm | By

A bad thing didn’t happen:

A deadlocked Supreme Court on Wednesday refused to revive parts of a restrictive North Carolina voting law that a federal appeals court had struck down as an unconstitutional effort to “target African Americans with almost surgical precision.”

The court was divided 4 to 4, with the court’s more conservative members voting to revive parts of the law.

That includes Clarence Thomas, of course – voting to weaken the Voting Rights Act.

North Carolina’s law, which imposed an array of voting restrictions, including new voter identification requirements, was enacted by the state’s Republican-controlled legislature in 2013. It was part of a wave of voting restrictions enacted after a 5-to-4 Supreme Court decision that effectively struck down a central part of the federal Voting Rights Act, weakening federal oversight of voting rights.

So that states could claw back a little racism in their voting laws.

Civil rights groups joined with the Obama administration in filing suit against the law, arguing that, several parts of the law violated the Constitution and what remained of the Voting Rights Act. A trial judge rejected those claims in April, but in July a three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, in Richmond, Va., disagreed.

The appeals court ruling struck down five parts of the law: its voter ID requirements, a rollback of early voting to 10 days from 17, an elimination of same-day registration and of preregistration of some teenagers, and its ban on counting votes cast in the wrong precinct.

The court found that all five restrictions “disproportionately affected African Americans.” The law’s voter identification provision, for instance, “retained only those types of photo ID disproportionately held by whites and excluded those disproportionately held by African Americans.”

This was so, the court said, even though the state had “failed to identify even a single individual who has ever been charged with committing in-person voter fraud in North Carolina.” But it did find that there is evidence of fraud in absentee voting by mail, a method used disproportionately by white voters. But the Legislature exempted absentee voting from the photo ID requirement.

But we were assured it was all about preventing voter fraud. Assured.

Just casually knock on the helmet again

Sep 1st, 2016 11:21 am | By

More good advice for men who want to intrude on women:

THE cold vastness of space is a surprisingly good place to pull because female astronauts get very lonely and horny.

Here’s how to approach a lady spaceman as she is orbiting the Earth:

– When you meet a female astronaut out in the Earth’s orbit, the first thing you should do is casually knock on the helmet and introduce yourself.

– Their first response may be to tell you “Fuck off” but that’s just them being coy and maybe a little shy. We all know what women are like.

– Persistence is key. So, just casually knock on the helmet again and gesture for them to remove the helmet so you can ask their name.

Read the whole thing; it’s funny. Martin Bishop wrote it.

R gurlz yoomn?

Sep 1st, 2016 11:00 am | By

It doesn’t get much more unmistakable than that.

Her name was Nykea Aldridge

Sep 1st, 2016 10:46 am | By

It’s not just the Olympics. Even when a woman is murdered, she’s reported as Relative of Famous Athlete Man. Being murdered is a lot worse than being disappeared in the reporting of your murder, but still – it’s an extra indignity, and it’s not great for the murdered woman’s loved ones, either.

Reuters last Sunday:

The headline: Two Chicago brothers on parole charged in murder of NBA star’s cousin

That’s an appalling headline.

First para:

Chicago police on Sunday said they have arrested two brothers and charged them with the fatal shooting of basketball star Dwyane Wade’s cousin as she pushed a baby in a stroller, a murder that has stunned a city plagued by a surge in gang-related violence.

Still bad. Puts the basketball star first, and leaves the murdered woman as just a nameless “cousin.”

The story doesn’t get to her until the second paragraph:

In a case that has emerged as a talking point in the U.S. presidential race, Darwin Sorrells Jr., 26, and Derren Sorrells, 22, are facing charges of first-degree murder and attempted murder in the death of Nykea Aldridge, a 32-year-old mother of four, police said.

I get that more people will read it if there’s a famous person hook, but then more people will read a story on climate change if you put a photo of Kim Kardashian at the top, too, and that’s not a reason to do it.

Trump’s big day

Sep 1st, 2016 9:20 am | By

Trump is in full racist-xenophobic mode. He gave another “O come all ye racists” speech in Phoenix last night, thrilling his fans and making everyone else want to expel their dinners.

Mr. Trump added new detail to the idea of a special “deportation force” to carry out his plans. He once suggested that this force would be like the military units that deported more than a million immigrants, mostly Mexicans, during Operation Wetback in 1954. Mr. Trump has previously spoken with admiration of President Eisenhower for his carrying-out of that blitz.

Yeahhhhhh, that’ll be a good look.

Mr. Trump’s very first promise in his remarks on Wednesday night was a reiteration of his plan for a “great wall along the southern border.” The Mexican president, Enrique Peña Nieto, said that in their meeting in Mexico City on Wednesday afternoon, he told Mr. Trump that his country would not pay for the wall. But that did not move Mr. Trump, who said on Wednesday night, to great cheers from the Phoenix audience, that “Mexico will pay for the wall.”

As was previously reported, that kind of border defense would be a major logistical challenge and extremely expensive for whoever pays the bill.

Trump doesn’t pay his own bills, so it makes sense that he would want to force Mexico to pay for his wall.

While he was in Mexico earlier in the day, he put a lid on the making Mexico pay for it thing.

Standing beside President Peña Nieto, Mr. Trump indicated that he had pulled a punch and chosen not to discuss his campaign promise to compel Mexico to pay for the wall. Yet Mr. Peña Nieto saw it somewhat differently, saying later on Twitter that at the start of their meeting, “I made it clear that Mexico will not pay for the wall.”

Mr. Peña Nieto did not dispute Mr. Trump at their news conference, however, and Mexican officials said that the two men did not dwell on the wall and that their meeting was conciliatory. Still, campaign advisers to Hillary Clinton, the Democratic nominee, accused Mr. Trump of lying, and the Trump campaign issued a statement saying that the meeting was “not a negotiation” and that “it is unsurprising that they hold two different views on this issue.”

In Phoenix, Mr. Trump responded to Mr. Peña Nieto with the hectoring language that has long been part of his strategy to whip up his crowds.

“Mexico will pay for the wall, believe me — 100 percent — they don’t know it yet, but they will pay for the wall,” Mr. Trump said. “They’re great people, and great leaders, but they will pay for the wall.”

Typical bully. He mumbles and looks the other way when he’s next to the target, but when he’s hundreds of miles away, it’s back to boasts and threats.

Apple owes back taxes

Aug 31st, 2016 5:22 pm | By

The European Commission ruled yesterday that Ireland’s deal with Apple was a good deal too sweet for Apple (and thus sour for Ireland and the Irish people).

Ireland should recover up to €13bn (£11bn) from Apple in back taxes, the European Commission has ruled.

After a three-year investigation, it has concluded that the US firm’s Irish tax benefits are illegal.

The Commission said Ireland enabled the company to pay substantially less than other businesses, in effect paying a corporate tax rate of no more than 1%.

“Member states cannot give tax benefits to selected companies – this is illegal under EU state aid rules,” said Commissioner Margrethe Vestager.

“The Commission’s investigation concluded that Ireland granted illegal tax benefits to Apple, which enabled it to pay substantially less tax than other businesses over many years,” she added.

The standard rate of Irish corporate tax is 12.5%. The Commissions’s investigation concluded that Apple had effectively paid 1% tax on its European profits in 2003 and about 0.005% in 2014.

I wonder why Ireland did that. Hoping it would contribute to Ireland’s status as a tech hub?

Dominic O’Connell explains:

Individual governments appear impotent in their attempts to apply their tax laws to multinationals like Apple. They have systems designed to deal with the movement and sale of physical goods, systems that are useless when companies derive their profits from the sale of services and the exploitation of intellectual property.

In Apple’s case, 90% of its foreign profits are legally channelled to Ireland, and then to subsidiaries which have no tax residence. At the same time, countries can scarcely afford not to co-operate when Apple comes calling; it has a stock market value of $600bn, and the attraction of the jobs it can create and the extra inward investment its favours can bring are too much for most politicians to resist.

But 13 billion euros? I would think politicians would find that hard to resist too.

There is an echo here of the tycoons of the early 20th Century who bestrode America. Andrew Carnegie, Cornelius Vanderbilt and John Rockefeller were judged so powerful that they were almost above the law, something that successive US administrations sought to curb.

The European Commission’s attempt to bring Apple to heel is on the surface about tax, but in the end about the power of the multinational and the power of the state. There is more to come; Margrethe Vestager, the Danish commissioner who is leading the charge against Apple, is warming up to take on Google.

Europe versus the giants of corporate America will be a battle royale, and one that will run and run.

Colonialism rides again, disguised as a hipster.

Hoping to meet

Aug 31st, 2016 4:13 pm | By

L V Anderson at Slate has some more thoughts on the wisdom of Dan Bacon.

The post does not appear to be joke. It does contain categorically incorrect declarations such as “if a woman wearing headphones is single and hoping to meet a boyfriend (or even a new lover), she will usually be happy to take off her headphones to give you an opportunity to create a spark with her.”

I didn’t fully notice Bacon’s soaring leap over logic there. Here’s the thing: a woman can be hoping to meet a boyfriend (or even a new lover) without hoping to meet him by being rudely accosted by some schmuck on the street.  You know? Because the boyfriend or lover she’s hoping to meet isn’t an asshole, and a guy who deliberately intrudes on women who don’t want to be intruded on is an asshole. So he’s dead wrong that a woman who  is single and hoping to meet a boyfriend (or even a new lover)  will be happy to take off her headphones because some stranger gets in her face and tells her to. (It’s telling, not asking. There’s no way to gesture “take your headphones off” at someone as a request as opposed to a demand.)

The essay goes on for 1,500 words, even though it could easily have been edited down to just, “Ignore women’s social cues and body language to try to get what you want.”

And that’s the kind of man that very few women are hoping to meet. It’s true that all too often that turns out to be the kind of man they have met, but rarely do they set out with that goal. One who just announces himself as such on first encounter – well that’s not too appealing.

Head coyly tilted

Aug 31st, 2016 11:47 am | By

This is several years old, but it makes the point neatly.

Look, if posing naked were empowering, then the rich men who run the world would be lining up for it. We would be awash in naked dick shots of Warren Buffet and Bill Gates and Barack Obama; magazines would be filled with male politicians and financiers and moguls with their bits hanging out. Softly lit, perhaps; head coyly tilted, bunny tail on the ass. Power.

But we’re not awash with those, are we. No Trump, no Putin, no Erdoğan – no generals, no CEOs, no bankers. No one telling men that selfies are empowering. Hmm.

Researchers were told of girls feeling ugly or worthless

Aug 31st, 2016 11:28 am | By

A UK charity called the Children’s Society does an annual report, and this year’s report shows a rise in misery among girls.

Among 10 to 15-year-old girls, the charity’s report says 14% are unhappy with their lives as a whole, and 34% with their appearance.

Researchers were told of girls feeling ugly or worthless.

The figures for England, Wales and Scotland for 2013-14 represent a sharp rise in unhappiness on five years before.

By contrast the study found that boys’ sense of happiness remained stable.

What explanation came to mind before I read more? Twitter. Twitter, Facebook, selfies, Redditt – and how they all enable and amplify abuse.

It follows research recently published by the Department for Education which showed the mental well-being of teenage girls in England has worsened, compared with their counterparts in 2005.

The study highlighted the growing pressure of social media and suggested that a tough economic climate had created a more “serious” generation of young people.

The proportion of girls reporting being worried about their looks rose from 30% for the period as a whole, to 34% in the year 2013-14 – while the proportion of boys unhappy with their appearance remained unchanged at 20%.

Social media have made it so much more obvious than it used to be that female people are constantly and ruthlessly judged on their appearance.

In another study, childcare professionals have published evidence that children could be worrying about being fat or ugly at a younger age, with girls particularly affected.

The Professional Association of Childcare and Early Years says staff have noticed children as young as three being worried about their appearance.

That sucks.

A box marked “entitled”

Aug 31st, 2016 11:08 am | By

Rebecca Schiller points out that maternity rights aren’t some kind of posh luxury:

The fact that three-quarters of women experience a negative or discriminatory effect of their pregnancy at work, as a report from the women and equalities select committee shows, isn’t a huge surprise to me…

The committee estimates that 53,000 women each year are being discouraged from attending antenatal appointments by their employers, despite permanent employees having the right to time off for these crucial check-ups…

Banging the drum for the rights of pregnant women is often portrayed as an occupation for the privileged. Defending women’s rights to choose how and where they give birth or insisting that employers make careers possible for working mothers has cleverly been placed in a box marked “entitled”.

You know, those demanding bitches who think they get to have a job and children. Stupid women – only men get to do both.

Four out of five women experience pregnancy and, whether we intend to use it or not, our capacity to become pregnant sits at the root of every woman’s unequal treatment in society. This is not a discussion that needs to stay in the boardroom. Without progress in pregnancy and childbirth we cannot make enough progress in women’s broader rights. And those made more vulnerable because of their precarious low-paid, low-status jobs will continue to find pregnancy a gateway to the food bank.

It’s lose-lose innit. Women get pregnant so don’t hire them for the best jobs, and when women with their low-paid jobs do get pregnant…whoops, it turns out that they’re poor.

Social realities

Aug 31st, 2016 10:00 am | By

News out of India:

The age of consent to sexual intercourse in India is 18, which means sex with anyone below that age is rape–the exception is if the woman is above 15 and married.

On August 29, 2016, the union home ministry told the Delhi High Court that the law would stand because these were India’s “social realities”, but the age of 15, as this 2014 paper pointed out, was written into law 67 years ago, imperilling millions of girls forced into matrimony.

The fact that girls are forced into marriage at horrifyingly young ages is the social reality that needs to be changed. It’s no good saying “it’s India’s social realities” as a reason not to change it when that’s the very problem at issue. If your roof is leaking you don’t say there’s no need to patch or replace it because the leaks are the house’s physical reality.

More than 7.8 million girls below age 10 are married, among nearly 12 million children forced into matrimony–84% of them Hindu and 11% Muslim–IndiaSpendreported in June 2016, quoting recent census data.

Jayzus that’s a lot of little girls.

H/t Kausik.