flossy

I’m so fed up of politics – aren’t you?  I know I’ll vote Labour at the next election because I couldn’t vote for anybody else, I’d be sick in the polling booth at the merest thought of voting Tory or LibDem. So let’s move on to a much less controversial arena – sexual politics.

Big knickers/pants are so comfortable. They sit on your natural waistline, keep your rude bits covered and well, they’re pants and we all wear pants.

But women are encouraged by clothes shops to choose from a range of pant styles (as are men of course but I’ll engage with that shortly). They can surely opt for big knickers but they are also offered a choice of alternatives which range from slightly smaller than waist high, down to bits of string that presumably floss your nethers. As a woman I have tried most of them at times and I can safely say that big knickers are the ones that work.

As mentioned, men are offered a choice too, but for the most part their’s are variations on a theme of maximum coverage and comfort. I just had a quick look at M&S and the very smallest man’s pants are effectively the equivalent of the mid-level ladies.

Funny that – or is it. In fashion history, women have frequently (some might argue invariably) been obliged to wear clothes that are uncomfortable, unpractical, revealing or the equivalent of human curtaining.  Men’s clothing has usually been primarily comfortable and practical with occasional excursions into exuberant colour and cut. Women have been corseted, had their feet broken and bound, worn lead based makeup that slowly poisoned them, tottered on high heels, been publicly shamed for short skirts, lampooned for leather trousers and men have occasionally been obliged to shave.

Why don’t women wear comfy stylish clothes over big knickers like men do? In the UK at least, women can wear whatever they like, but frequently they choose to wear things that are either uncomfortable, impractical or mandated by men. If you feel obliged to wear self-flossing thongs and heels, or a burka, can you seriously tell me that feminism is no longer necessary?

Bye-bye elections

Just before the recent set of by-elections, my dear one and I were chatting in the car about politics: we predicted a win for the Tories in Copeland and that Labour would hang on to Stoke, but with a low turnout. I don’t think we have unusual powers of prediction, just that in the current climate that seemed a likely outcome. I greeted the papers announcement that the Copeland result was a ‘shock’ with bafflement. Really? I thought that political editors were supposed to be experts in the field… and they were ‘shocked’. My cat could’ve seen that one coming.

I guess that if you’ve been bothered to follow my blog, you won’t be at all surprised to hear that I don’t hold Corbyn responsible for this debacle. And that’s not because I’m a Corbynista, or the occupier of a bubble that echos my views back to me. I am not blaming Jeremy Corbyn because there are so many other candidates for blame that I am surprised we are settling on one.

First up every single member of the PLP who have taken time out from their busy schedules to inform any passing stranger that their party sucks, their leader sucks and that we need a change of management at the top.

Second of all, any supposed ‘liberal’ journalist who took them seriously and reported these views in a national paper – without a corrective.

….and that’s it, because these two groups have become mutually reinforcing, and the conversation between them is so exclusive that sane and supportive voices never seem to get a look in.

For the past months I’ve followed PMQ’s via the Guardian, who have reluctantly agreed that – after a shaky start – Mr. Corbyn has found his feet. For a short while the party kept their arguments to themselves and things were looking better. Unity is always a better look than chaos – just look at the Tories. They have politicians of every stripe (from more or less libertarian to woman hating fascists) in their camp but they also have little or no public dispute.

And a change of leader now would be calamitous: you can’t have leadership campaigns every year without the public detecting a problem, you can’t make policy if you don’t know what agenda you should be following, and you can’t oppose the Tories if you spend your time opposing your fellow PLP members.

I don’t think that Jeremy Corbyn is the ideal leader, but he’s got an electoral mandate, policies that I can get behind and the strength to tough out a hateful campaign of invective against him. I think that the Labour party will lose heavily in the 2020 GE – and when it does I suspect that Corbyn will resign, but the loss won’t be his fault if significant members of the PLP (with the support of the liberal press) continue to brief against their elected leader.

We won’t win an election with a PLP that cannot respect a membership mandate and a real need for political change. And frankly if we can’t offer a coherent and radical alternative to Tory policy – politics of hate, oppression, selfishness and greed – then we don’t deserve to win anyway.

post-smart

Twice last year I woke up with a sinking feeling: surely people wouldn’t be that dumb? Twice I was sorely disappointed in my fellow men.

At the weekend I was in a shop looking at the sad rows of sale items: a woman asked the assistant – have you got this in a 12? Yep, said the shop assistant, we’ve got heaps of the most popular sizes all hidden in the back just in case. Actually she didn’t say that because as most people know, sales are all about selling off the stuff that people didn’t really like/couldn’t fit into, cheaply.

Onto the supermarket where there were free recipe leaflets for healthy eating available. A customer pulled aside an assistant and asked if it was ok to take them. The assistant said, no, you dope, ‘free leaflets’ means you have to pay for them in Tescolanguage. She didn’t, of course. She smiled and said ‘of course’, brightly, between gritted teeth.

Now it’s possible that we have a post-truth society, but my feeling is that it’s actually a post-smart. Folks get their news from dumbed-down articles in the Sun, are spoon fed fact-free prejudice from the Mail and others, and listen to fellow dumb-asses on carefully selected Facebook pages (not selected by them, of course, but by a dead hand of technology). If they ever hear a dissenting viewpoint, its dismissed as “propaganda”. Ho ho ho, my sides. And as for evidence or facts, research or statistics well their news sources don’t have too much truck with that kinda thing.

But why? Why do people prefer smartened up opinion to evidence? Because it reflects their fears and worries more accurately. Politics is complicated and the reasons for the  current ‘state’ of our nation go back decades and decades. If you think about wages for example, these are low because of several factors: lack of unions, the economic crash of 2008 (when workers settled for lower wages instead of losing a job), the instability of the job market, the de-skilling of the workplace, economic pressures in the global market place (cheap workforces in outsourcing regions etc) and so on and so on. Employers choosing cheaper workers from abroad is indeed a factor and it probably does drive down domestic t&c’s and wages – but it’s much easier to point a finger at ‘them’ taking ‘our’ jobs and victimising fellow sufferers of a low-wage culture, than attempting to understand the complete political picture (and if you did, who would represent your position in parliament….yes, that). And of course, previously respected newspapers are happy to help you make the simplistic leap.

People are increasingly being herded into opinion groups like sheep: fed on an entertainment diet that keeps them docile and advertising that maintains their aspirations (but keeps them buying rather than thinking). No-one is rewarded for being smart. Smart doesn’t get you anywhere; smart and working class – still immense barriers to your ability to move up the ladders, smart and black, no chance, smart and a woman, well, maybe. Dumb and monied, dumb and part of the establishment, dumb and inherited your company and status. Welcome to the presidency Mr. Trump.

Identity politics my ass

According to Simon Jenkins in the Guardian today the real problem in the world is that the left concentrates too hard on looking after minorities while blaming white middle aged, middle class men (and some women) for well, everything. And, ergo  Trump and Brexit are those poor snowflakes fighting back.

Well, I am confused because of course Simon Jenkins is a white elderly privileged man and he doesn’t seem to have had/be having any difficulty in finding fora for his views or indeed supporters for them. Here he is on the pages of a national newspaper (being paid handsomely I’ve no doubt) being all ‘marginalised’ with a mere 300o comments telling him that he is quite right and how they are all marginalised too.

I am a white working class woman – with a degree so don’t feel too sorry for me, but I don’t look around a see a world organised for my benefit. Most MP’s are still men, Presidents are still men, heads of corporations are mostly men, we still see sport on the TV mostly played by men, films are usually made by men, starring men with women as decorative additions who exist to talk about men. Notable literature is frequently the preserve of men (booker prize male winners outnumber the women 2:1) , TV news anchors in the UK are more frequently men than women, bishops are largely men etc etc. If you are non-white and/or disabled and working class you can often look in vain for people that are like you in certain fields (the judiciary for example). It is often possible to work the system better if you are gay AND upperclass (e.g. Stephen Fry and Sandi Toksvig) or Asian AND male (Sadiq Khan) or even working class, male and grammar school educated (Alan Bennett, Melvyn Bragg) but in general white, male, middle aged, middle or better income blokes seem to be doing ok.

In schools there has been concern that working class white males are left behind: girls do better in school, college and uni. But if your kids are white and male stop worrying, all the progress those girls are making is successfully undone as soon as they fancy taking on kids and a job – boom – males back on top as they don’t have career breaks to look after the blighters. Male jobs seem to pay better too in the private sector where the rates of pay can be kept under wraps.

White British males seems to feel aggrieved that they are targeted for criticism for violence and criminality, but the prison population is largely in the business of incarcerating men and of those only around 1 tenth are of non-UK origin, and white males outnumber non-white by three quarters. Murderers, rapists, burglars, car-jackers, drug dealers and childkillers are mostly white men. Next time you see an article about a child abuse ring that concentrates on the Asian ethnicity of the perps – remember that they are the exception rather than the rule! Of course women can be violent and cruel too, so can disabled people, so can gay and non-white people. But if you think that white men are being unfairly ‘got at’ for societies ills, think again.

By the way if you think that I’m a man-hating lesbian and that this is simply an outpouring of unjustified misandrist bile – I am a happily, straight married woman with male kids and I love them all dearly. I simply feel that to characterise the new world as being organised for anyone’s benefit other than straight white, middle income (or more) men is to be misinformed by a media largely dominated by well-off white males, while becoming so inured to life’s realities than you no longer see it anymore.

And Simon Jenkin’s assertion that this is the real reason that the left aren’t in power – well that is nonsense. Its been part of the civilizing process of the Western World to care about the rights and well-being of people who are not white, male and well off and that progress has not gone ‘to far’ – it’s simply begun to impinge on some of the privileges that the Great White Male enjoyed.

Modern politics is where it is because if you can blame someone on your street for your misfortune (real or imagined) it’s a damn sight easier than working out the economic and political facts of life. Blaming the enemies within is a much easier tactic than dealing with how to fairly share the obvious wealth that is sloshing around the upper echelons of society. You must have seen a toddler redirect a parents ire by quickly pointing to the dog or his sibling as the possible perpetrator – well that, my friends, is Nigel Farage, Donald Trump, Oswald Mosley, Enoch Powell and every internet warrior with a grudge. Politics isn’t getting less fair to white men, its getting more simplistic and accepting of the prejudices of white males. And I don’t know why or how that has happened.

If I had to guess I say that the main stream media has now got an echo chamber attached to it: the internet. And it’s a place that has long been dominated by male geeks. Its a place where men can go and complain to men about how the world is mean to them. And then it can watch happily while the MSM reports it as news. How does the left combat this and get people talking about real world problems of inequality, hate and poverty? No idea, but I suspect that someone is going to suggest that we should be ‘listening’ to white men – and not to poor white and black women.

 

To Milo

I don’t know whether you’re aware of Milo Yiannopoulos? He’s one of the chief spokespeople for the ‘alt-right’ (or right wing, Nazi, white suprematist, bigoted xenophobes, fascist sympathisers, but yeah, they’re preferring alt-right these days).  He writes and speaks nonsense for Breitbart amongst others including this piece of well, shite, for want of a better descriptor.

He includes an email address with his ‘writings’ so I thought it would be fun to send this

“Dear Milo

You have courageously added your (business email) address and I imagine this means that you are happy to answer queries on your posts? I mean it would be pointless to publish a contact email and then simply click on the trash button. Cowardly too – and I know you’re not like that.
My issue is this: I think that your satirical pieces are becoming a trifle too broad – I caught your article about feminism, washing machines and the pill recently. I know I’m a bit late to the game with this one, but I have been a wee bit tardy keeping up with essential reading recently. Now I realise that this piece was meant to wind up Feminists and what not, exposing them as ‘humourless’ and ‘prone to victimhood’, but really it just came off as a heavy handed and school-boyish. I mean, it was like you’d written the article to make fun of Breitbart instead, and it’s contributors and readers. Kinda like saying – look how dumb and asinine they are and see how these ‘silly men’ will fall for it and comment underneath with lots of ‘yay, go Milo’.
I mean, I know that you’re a clever and subtle social commentator: I know that you’ve be given the task of infiltrating the right to ensure that no-one ever takes them seriously. I find it extraordinary that anyone would ever take your views on anything seriously – that’s not kind of the point of you is it? You’re there just to prove that it’s impossible to be an intellectual and right wing, a Trump supporter and smart, well-educated and yet so ignorant.
But that Feminism article is in danger of blowing your cover – it’s too broad, too damn silly and self-congratulatory. Let’s face it, even some of the dumb-asses in the Breitbart ‘pen’ are going to see through that, and god knows, they’re really not very bright.
Milo, my friend. No-one is as big a shit-head as you’re pretending to be. NO-ONE. That smug, silly smile you adopt on TV, your views, your support of some of the stupidest men on the planet, Jeez Milo, they’re gonna know and when they find out that you’ve been taking the piss all this time – they are gonna kick your ass.
Wise up, row the dumb back a bit, moderate your stupidity a little, maybe throw in the odd wise comment, and you can keep on hiding your true liberal identity for years to come – and make sure that the right goes back into the toilet bowl of history – where it belongs.
You are a true hero of the left.”

Bummer

Well if we thought that the fall out from Brexit was a bit shit, that is nothing compared to the morning after the Trump before.

Here we are with a English synonym for fart heading up the world’s favourite democracy, after a campaign in which he showered anyone who wasn’t white and male with shit, and generally made the world simultaneously laugh at the US for their stupidity, and shiver inside if there was a chance he’d win.

Well, win he did. I’ve just had a look at a couple of NYT headlines and it’s apparent that  something went badly wrong (again) with polling because no-one saw that coming. My theory about modern polling is that instead of being a descriptor of how people are feeling in the moment, people are looking to polling as a sort of political weather forecast: so if the political weather is moving rightwards they have the confidence to go out with their political umbrella and vote the crap out of whichever wackjob they fancy…. safe in the knowledge, gleaned from the polls, that they won’t be alone.

Trumps supporters were clearly pissed off with the establishment in the US (just as those who voted for Brexit were largely putting a cross next to ‘fuck you’ on the ballot). Clinton was most likely perceived as a ‘same shit, different day’ candidate and, dear god, a woman to boot. The racism, misogyny, childishness and idiocy of their chosen candidate was not viewed as a problem – indeed it was likely that the more folk were told that they were dumb to pick him, the more likely they were to pick Trump. Nobody likes to be told that they are dumb.

Now there are a few things that we could learn from this (and Brexit). One: that a lot of normal people are not enjoying the benefits of our modern democracies. Their wages have stagnated, often their jobs are insecure, local shops are stuffed with cheap stuff from overseas (which is most likely where the few remaining jobs are heading) and life is not likely to get better for their kids. Two: that when governments, presidents, MP’s, Eurocrats and politicians of every stripe get into power nothing changes  – life stays exactly the same despite promises to the contrary. Three: that the press/media are more than happy to help identify who is to blame in this situation – but they themselves largely comprise members of the establishment or capitalists, who are (let’s face it) unlikely to put themselves forward as the ‘evil ones’. SO.. Five: When the world has a problem with capitalism it had been known to lurch rightwards and seek enemies within.

We could take all this on board and try to change the life chances of the majority, we could share around the benefits of capitalism more equally, we could reign in the powers of the rightwing ideologues who head up the press and media, we could make democracy do what its supposed to do (i.e. represent the people and work for them).

But the chances are that we won’t. Many people in the establishment will take this as confirmation that the voters are indeed as thick as pigshit, and that that if they want to be Trumped (which they clearly do) they are going to be Trumped good and hard. All those turkeys who voted for Christmas are going to find out what happens next (clue – it involves being stuffed and carved). It will give comfort to the racists (that the majority appear to agree with them), hope to misogynists (tremble if you are a woman) and fuel to nationalist paranoia. This is unlikely to end well.

The only consolation to liberals and lefties this morning is that compared to the US, the UK isn’t quite as bad. Yet.

Teeth

I recently visited the Facebook of the right wing Monmouth Tory David Davies MP to take issue with his suggestion that dental examinations should be used to prove the age of teenagers looking for refuge in the UK. I suggested that demanding that we see the teeth of migrants was sinister and rather called to mind the Nazi’s looking at the teeth of Jews during the hellish genocide in the mid-20th century.

I was immediately attacked for trying to allow ‘rapists’ and ‘terrorists’ into our schools and country (or a small number of under 18 year olds if you get your news from somewhere other than the Mail and the Sun) and told to stop exaggerating by comparing the succession of racist horrors in the UK to the actions of the Nazi’s and their countrywide supporters in Germany. This was on the one hand an insult to those who died and an insult to them (as upright citizens) who were merely pointing out the ‘facts’.

History teaching in the UK, as I know to my cost, is not always very good. All I learnt during my years in school was a little about the Romans in York, Henry 8th and the development of the Spinning Jenny. But I have read a lot of books and watched quite a lot of serious telly so I have made up for some deficiencies in my knowledge, but I accept that I may have got it wrong vis a vis how genocide happened in Germany.

Apparently it must have happened like this – 1942 WW2 starts and overnight suddenly everyone is a Nazi in Germany, Hitler dies, the war ends and its all back to normal with everyone suddenly respecting the Jews, Romany’s, homosexuals, communists, trade unionists and mentally/physically disabled people. And of course it’s been a forward march to enlightenment ever since.

I thought (in my ignorance) that hatred for Jews and minorities had been built up over time with smaller humiliations and losses of dignity, insults and other-ing, hate speech and intolerance – long before the machinery of the the Holocaust was in place. That bigotry and prejudice set the background for horrendous policies that should still shame everyone that took part in them (and everyone who knew what was happening – and did nothing).

We are not Hitler’s Germany yet, but I am not reassured that we are any more civilised, tolerant and forgiving than we were less than a century ago. And if we cannot be more welcoming to people who need our help now, and if we continue to tolerate bigoted and xenophobic speech, who can say with any confidence that we will avoid a repetition of the Holocaust.

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—

Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—

Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—

Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.