David Cameron finally came clean at some speech or other in the City State of Londonshire : he’s not going to reverse the cuts (the cuts that aren’t driving down the deficit…) because he wants a leaner, meaner state. Oh good. Because that’s really working out for us isn’t it?
He reckons – largely because he’s a nincompoop – that government services are much more efficient now he’s cut all that ‘fat’ away. Yeah right. That’s why he’s had to put A&E departments on a daily bulletin to check that the ridiculous waiting times aren’t going critical. He thinks that Michael (please God no) Gove is doing a grand job in Education opening schools where no-one needs them and merrily reversing years of tiny, incremental progress towards a school system that doesn’t reinforce the class system and lock out social mobility. Yay!
Meanwhile Ian Duncan Smith is wasting millions of tax payers money on a benefit system that won’t get out of the traps anytime soon (while taking money of the poor, vulnerable and needy through ill-thought out policy and spiteful new rules). Our defence ministry is condemning two towns to mass unemployment due to it’s inability to plan (Portsmouth and Clydeside shipyards) and the HS2 is still not quite a success either and it’s not even got off the paper yet. Privacy, justice – ach, who needs them, lets just bung GCHQ another couple of million to spy on our own citizens and quite possibly the citizens of other friendly countries too.
Yep. It’s all going very well, Dave, crack on.
Thigh gaps furores, pro-ana websites, dire warnings of obesity crises, size 16 mannequins in storefronts, the Daily Mail’s side bar of shame. What it all adds up to is that bodies are hugely varied, but almost never ‘right’.
A woman’s lot in this case is (as almost always) far worse than men’s: you can never worry too much about your age, your flab, your hair (head or body), your breasts, genitalia and even the presence of absence (eg. the thigh gap). Of course worrying about all of these bits and bobs does two things – first off it keeps a massive ‘beauty’ industry on track, second of all it helps to keep women concerned with their individual faults while overlooking the massive gender inequalities that still exist.
But flab is of course a problem of both genders – we’re all getting fatter and it’s going to kill us, alledgely. Except that not everyone is getting morbidly obese of course and the elision of the slightly chubby and the massively obese is worth looking out for: muffin tops are not the same as needing to be airlifted to hospital through the roof of your house. BMI charts are bandied about as if they were holy tablets rather than statistical information on populations (which are largely out of date). Here’s the thing: if everyone is now chubby and the average woman is a size 16 (which won’t kill you, no matter what the Daily Mail says) how can we maintain a fiction that the world is a place for the thin?
And when did it become ok to comment on peoples bodies anyway? I was always told that pointing people out and making personal comments was rude – by the age of 6 I got it and kept my opinions to myself. Nowadays we have magazines pointing fingers, counting rolls of fat or criticising the definition of peoples ribs. A permanent feeling of body loathing can’t be helpful whether its projected inwards or outwards. Get angry people, but not at a failed diet or an ill fitting pair of leggings. If you’re a woman, male violence ought to be something you’re worrying about and if you’re a man, maybe you’d be better off fretting about that too.
Economic inequality, gender discrimination, xenophobia, violence against LGBT people, the destruction of the environment, those are genuine reasons to be glum. A stray grey hair, a bigger bum than the norm, the signs of ageing? Not so much.
I should most probably stop reading the Guardian: not a day goes by when some iniquity perpetrated by this government is pointed out in its pages. I read through the comment section with a growing feeling of gloom and wonder what exactly is going on in the world.
We have wealth beyond most peoples wildest imaginings, but we don’t share it. We have the potential to feed everyone and keep them healthy, but we don’t. We don’t house the worlds people properly, we don’t look after the world itself (with a headlong scramble to exploit, largely for the benefit of the few, the resources of the planet) and we don’t seem to give a bugger.
Ye are many, they are few. Famous words and a call to arms. Around about 1% of the worlds population control most of its wealth and we do nothing. We complain about so and so down the road fiddling their benefits (as if we can understand a persons finances from looking at their home or faces – have you never heard of fecking credit) as if its them bringing down the world by fiddling their dole, ten pounds at a time. We have become a nation of xenophobes, happy to absorb the bullshit fed us about immigrants (as if immigration, economic migrancy within Europe, the seeking of asylum and illegal entry into the country was all the same thing). Let’s not worry about the facts – ‘they’ don’t ‘use up’ our social housing, benefits and health care – they are net contributors to the country. But uh, never mind that.
We need to realise that we can change the world. And we don’t have to start a violent revolution or man the barricades to do it. I enjoyed reading Russell Brands call for action and everyone wants to see Paxman bested, but we don’t need pitchforks and guns. You can make a change at the ballot box. Give the Labour party a vast majority and shout louder and louder until they do the things you want them to do. Become a local councillor and keep the Tories away from local power. Turn up at local meetings and get your voice heard. Become that irritating shouty person at the back of the room when it’s your building societies AGM, take part in a march, write to your MP or councillor, write about your MP or councillor on their Twitter feed. All these things are small – but they all add up to you taking over, because – there are lots and lots of you, and few of them.
Ye are many, they are few.