Mansplaining – a loser’s guide.

A look behind the phrase:

“Mansplaining”…
You must have heard of the word by now – even if my spellchecker hasn’t…
During a lecture at Moe’s Books in Berkeley, California, Rebecca Solnit, author of an essay called  “Men explain things to me”, said, “I’m falsely credited with coining the term ‘mansplaining’. It was a 2010 New York Times word of the year. I did not actually coin it. I was a bit ambivalent about the word because it seems a little bit more condemnatory of the male of the species than I ever wanted it to be.” – her ambivalence is generally not matched by Twitter users…
I too, have sometimes smiled at the rather patronising attempts of men to explain some woman’s joke back to them on Twitter.
And sometimes even giggled at some poor geeky guy who decided to explain away an argument with parsing and pedantry when the original was perhaps a lighthearted comment, and certainly not a request for semantic help.

On the other hand, well meaning attempts to help are a key part of what we do as humans, even if, in the written format, the ease with which these become clunky and misinterpretations of what is going on can make them seem overbearing…

Boys, much more than girls, are taught that they should display their knowledge, be leaders! – jump up in class to tell teacher – “yes, I know the answer”.

It goes hand in hand with jumping up from the trenches and charging towards the enemy machine guns. To be assertive, confident, and put yourself in the firing line. That is to say, it is not rebellion, but role compliance. It is what boys/men are expected to be, and taught, as much by women as other men.

For a long time now I have heard how the different treatment of girls from infancy to adulthood is an aggravation to the rights and needs of women.  But whatever the pluses and minuses of varying treatments of the gender roles in the past 40 years – it is well established that males fare much worse at school and getting to university now, than women do…
But back to the phrase in the title – Mansplaining.
It is clear, even to the first time observer, that this is a gender dividing term – something men do to, or at, women…The definition is that it is a cultural norm, one that all women come up against and that it is, basically annoying.

And yet the underlying male urge to explain or parse the meanings in topics discussed is not generally aimed at women at all – it’s aimed at everyone.

I guess many women never get to overhear men having lively discussions with just other men – and how they spend time arguing, explaining, being patronising, yes, but occasionally listening and changing long held beliefs ever so slightly…
So when women tell men that they are “mansplaining” and proceed to mock, – men will probably see that as a lazy feminist trope based on ignorance of the non gender based nature of what it is they do…that women only have to be assertive and say “No thanks”, and often do, leaving all types of explanation unspoken.

Men “explain” to other men just as much as they ever do to women, ergo what they do might be more accurately called ‘splaining – that simple. The need to invest this gender divisiveness is an aspect of modern feminism that is deeply unattractive and ultimately harmful all round and is based on the legacy of a patriarchy that is nothing like as unbalanced as it was as recently as the 1980s. Power  as seen to be in the hands of either gender has changed a great deal, and abusing aspects of it in order to achieve an outcome that does innocent people down is not an acceptable way to behave in our world.

Being assertive is not something that men are born being better at, far from it, they are taught to be aggressive, and by this we mean much more than assertive, being assertive only seems to arrive with some development of intelligence and education.

A good example of assertiveness over aggression might be when good thinking men, during the Great War, became conscientious objectors and refused to go and be cannon fodder on the western front. They asserted their right not to kill or be killed for no good reason.
When this happened, the majority of mockers and distributors of white feathers were women… The female desire to shame working men into going and fighting and killing other working men appears to have been very strong,
do we call that Femdeathpushing?
…and this was just at the time that Women’s suffrage received its biggest boost and ultimate voting power reward – because so many men were off abroad dying, while women manned (sic) the factories and farms.
It was the war, more than chaining oneself to a railing, that won it for the suffragettes.
But while things often seem to progress faster in war time – wars themselves take a terrible toll on the male population – and are not a good thing. (Just in case someone saw that progress as unquestioningly desirable).
I used to be part of a Men’s group, actually 3 different ones, and as well as exploring what it meant to be a man, we supported feminist principles; those of equal opportunity and a challenging of gender stereotypes. I’m proud to have raised 3 daughters who know and understand equality issues and the history of fights for LGBT rights, Gender equality employment rights, Rock against racism, anti-Apartheid, and black history awareness.

But in 2018 I can no longer use the term “feminist” to mean what I thought it meant back then in the 1980s…

 

I see and hear others (male and female) say it as if they know what it means but are really using it to belong to a gang whose battles have moved beyond a fight for justice and equal opportunity and into a manoeuvre for supremacy.
The way that identity politics has become a dominant trend is being challenged mainly by conservatives in the west, and thus I find myself agreeing with people I used to see as “the enemy”, and this has actually shocked me in many ways. The witnessing of the “liberal left”, as in the Guardian newspaper, deciding that accused men should be thrown to the wolves for the sake of supporting embedded feminist ideas of male worthlessness. 
Whilst I retain my deep pocket Utopian idealism as an Anarchist and my public position of democratic socialism within, what I accept as an inevitable, capitalist system…
I cannot abide this apparent desire to enjoy raised status as a victim alongside a mob that seeks to police language without understanding it, and evades personal responsibility whilst creating divisions based on group identities.

The idea of patriarchy is so embedded in our millennial culture that people forget the areas in which it has become closed history, whilst the unequal treatment of men to their great disadvantage (e.g. suicide and wrongful imprisonment) has been seen as somehow justifiable based on that history.

 

The following list highlights areas that rarely get talked about but which very definitely have swung against men…

I will quickly say that there are many parallel areas where men have more freedom than women, but these do tend to get discussed and argued about a great deal, and coming into those discussions as a man seeking this kind of genuine equality is a formula for getting buried in an avalanche or mockery or a Twitter mob pile on…

 

1. Abortion (father not having any decision making power regarding their potential child)
2. Foetal alcohol syndrome (similarly, this can be seen as child abuse caused by one partner alone.)
3. Genital mutilation (Circumcision of male babies as heavily practiced in America, Jewish and Muslim cultures is an abomination and one of the worst forms of child abuse)
4. Fatherlessness, (the right of a child to have a father around is greatly inhibited by law after a family breakdown).
5. Education (men failing at the highest rate in history by comparison with women, why?)
6. Employment (any quota system can work against an individual with a greater skill set)
7. Access to children after family breakdowns
8. Domestic violence (research shows that 32% of domestic violence is instigated by men, and 27% instigated by women, the remaining 41% it being impossible to tell)
9. Sexual abuse (woman rapes 13 year old boy – community sentence. Man rapes 13 year old girl – bottom of the prison pile for a decade)
10. Armed Forces veterans’ mental health issues (they are held responsible for their battlefield induced problems, women remain innocent victims)
11. Homelessness (disproportionately male issue)
12. Suicide (the same)
13. Criminal justice system (criminal women are generally still regarded as innocent victims, innocent men = guilty perpetrators – more of this below)
14. Paternity fraud
15. Anonymity for suspected sexual offenders
16. Divorce settlements
17. Healthcare provision – and there are more.
 
But the key area that concerns me – personally and philosophically, is that of the Criminal Justice system… 30,000 women took up the idea of falsely accusing an innocent man of rape last year – spoiling the waters for genuine victims, sure, but more importantly, wrecking the lives of more than 30,000 innocent people with the career wrecking, child stealing, soul destroying smears that are worse than being publicly named as a murderer.
“Feminists” have long claimed and still do, that these occurrences are incredibly rare.
It must surely be that this myth is now hanging by a thread
thanks to their own approved figures…
Last year in the UK there were more false rape reports to the police than genuine ones.

Roughly twice as many,
at least.
As the many Twitter preachers and reporters say,

“Let that sink in”.

 

This is not the rare, rogue individual, it is a mass of badly motivated liars, using a police and justice system that has fallen for the Feminist rhetoric that women need better protection, and more men need to be pushed towards the metaphorical machine guns.
This unthinking acceptance of a barefaced lie, by police, media, politicians, and the general public is what has left me with nothing but this avenue in which to conscientiously object…
My life wrecking has not been as bad as it has for many – some innocent men have ended their lives (to a total lack of sympathy from wider society, because, “men, you know – who cares?”) some are fighting their corner from a prison cell, (over 1100 at latest estimate).
I am still here and fighting, e.g. for a right to work, having seen the case presented by the police & CPS dropped 2 weeks before trial, when the CPS realised that they were going to be made to look ridiculous and use prosecution witnesses to commit perjury in the courtroom.
Not happy at their case being dropped and their complainant ridiculed for being a recidivist false accuser that they failed to see through, the police have continued to maintain that they, and she, were correct and are thus attempting to prevent any employer from giving me a job…
This ability to glide right past solid evidence of her lies as recorded by other police forces is akin to Donald Trump insisting that he never plays golf.
So the detectives (dominated by women in the RASSO unit) are not so much full blooded feminists – as sad blinkered idiots who follow the path of least resistance and try to prosecute men for rape because that is what the government has told them to do…
and truth be damned – that is not what they are investigating.

If I explain this reality to a feminist who regularly  lectures the public on how too many rapists walk free, am I mansplaining?

 

So far no one has managed, or dared to try to counter the figures I put forward and declare me an anti-feminist men’s rights activist or whatever…because these are “their” figures…
The figures I quote are from the  National Crime Survey that interviews nearly 50,000 people every year.  This makes it as accurate as those Election exit polls that then turn out to be correct within 2% error margins.
85,000 women genuinely raped is a terrible thing, my heart goes out to them…(and one in particular),
and I quite understand why only 10 – 15% of them would report this horrific trauma to the police, (both these figures are from that same, Rape Crisis approved, British Crime Survey).
I also understand that the police had a Hell of a time last year, recording and listening to 41,i50 rape reports…

Do they now read the NCS figures for genuine rape reports (at an average rounded out at 11,150) and calculate that they should have said, “We DON’T believe you” to 30,000 liars who made reports?

How do I, who nearly went to prison purely for being a random man chosen to fit into a personality disordered sick woman’s latest of several serial fantasies, explain to modern feminists that this is a deadly serious issue that needs to be understood and acted upon?
Women campaigners against this modern Feminism say, “You can’t”…
as a man you are discounted from being able to do this. And so it has to be the women who recognise and seek to grapple with the reality that push for change. 
It is not mansplaining to point out that there are more than 30,000 such perverse liars still out there, ready to abuse the current culture in order to defraud the taxpayer of money (my accuser got £22K) and send thousands of innocent men to ruin, prison or both. It is a life saving proposition. 
In summary:
In the UK, the blind acceptance, by most men and women, of the jokes and pokes, about mansplaining, manspreading, linear thinking, multi-tasking and jokes about men generally falling into a patronisingly approved stereotype… this “going along with it”, actually endangers a fair society where men and women develop a love and tolerance for each other’s foibles and human characteristics.
Ironically the best defenders of the open and tolerant way forward get flack from men and women alike – through gender fixated fears, – and these are the Trans activists whose variations of views and practice on gender fluidity see them harangued and sometimes assaulted and killed by men and women whose identity is challenged by their mere existence…

Which ever way you want your own identity to go, your rights will never trump an innocent person’s right to justice and freedom, and no amount of explanation by a man to a woman, or vice versa, is going to change that.

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Farewell Big Pete, my fellow man.

The not at all short lived, international, Men’s AntiSexist Newsletter.

I met Pete Six properly in Chapter 2 cinema, Cardiff when we both attended a relaunch meeting of the Cardiff Men’s Group,  it was the autumn of 1980, and it was the beginning of a beautiful lifelong friendship.

We were both moderately versed in feminist thinking, both single, and fascinated by what it meant to be a “real man”.
Men’s groups in those days were often dismissed as wimpy men trying to figure out how to get their feminist friends into bed. This was more of a side effect as far as we were concerned, the main  issue was about feeling secure in our identity as men, and discovering what the hell that meant in a society where we were practically the first generation whereby war, factories and mining disasters didn’t whittle away most of our contemporaries and simplify the debate to survival and class war.

Cardiff Men’s group consisted of about a dozen men, 6 of whom were named Pete. Pete Goodridge chose to be “6” as we numbered off and Five Cram was already known as Five. Petes 1-4 are all now off my radar.
The group talked of many things, including sealing wax, (it’s potential use in male contraception), and all things to do with male identity.

Pete and I had one divergence of views. He was always for political and agitprop action, organising the “Men Against Violence Against Women” march through central Cardiff (one banner, about 30 people) and for spreading the word.
I was for all that too, but also for awareness raising amongst ourselves, effectively a psychological therapeutic exercise, the purpose of which was to better know ourselves, and thus be more effective in everything extrovert we did. He felt this was a self indulgence and called the meetings we had on those themes, “T (for therapy) and toast meetings”. This disagreement was always revisited with a smile and never led to any kind of schism or falling out.

By 1986 we had become a coordinating group of the Men’s Antisexist Newsletter (pictured above) formed Creches Against Sexism, which ran creches for Women’s Aid groups, including the Welsh Women’s Aid national conference, over a long weekend in Builth Wells. We also had some uplifting and enlightened sessions of self discovery that I credit with making all of us better potential (or actual) life partners as well as individuals.

Cardiff Men’s Group faded, and morphed – a new version of a similarly named group, of which I was a member, organised annual conferences in Cardiff, with some success, right through to the late 1990s.

All through this time visits to Pete’s were a basic part of my social life. Not so much since my move away to Gloucestershire, though I did manage to get him to come with me to an Arcade Fire gig in Cardiff Arena not so long back, but I never thought he would cut our relationship short at the age of 61, with that damned dodgy ticker that he always swore would be the death of him before he ever claimed the state pension.

Several from the Cardiff men’s group were in attendance, on the longest, hottest day of 2017, to lay Pete’s body to rest in a beautiful natural burial meadow near Usk.
Many swifts were making frantic patterns overhead but under the hottest sun, over 400 people, dressed appropriately for the summer, witnessed his family and friends perform a joyous humanist service that he had actually designed.

I could say more – and he could say much more than that, but right now, I can’t. Life is now missing one huge character,
Big hearted Pete.

 

 

 

 

 

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Riots, Race, Rape and Right wing takes.

What are riots for?
What are the root causes?
Which groups in society gain and which lose from riot stories?

“What have we got to gain?…Man, we’ got nothing left to lose!”

Since the SCROTUS mentioned “what happened last night in Sweden” people have been scouring the media for evidence to support their position on this crucial issue.
Not, “what actually happened in Sweden”, but “can the issue of savage and racially focused immigration control be justified on the basis of riots and other crimes caused by groups of refugees/migrants who have clearly been admitted too fast and in too large a number”. (to paraphrase what multiple commentators are implying, if not directly saying, like Trump.)

I’ve not been in, only ever seen the immediate aftermath of, a riot – just the one, in Brixton 1981. What I did learn from being there then was that anger can be a cocktail brewed in a pressure cooker that requires the weights taken off. A riot just knocks those weights off in an uncontrolled manner – and results in what the wider world only sees as being dangerous, wasteful and destructive.

What happens afterwards is that the media and established powers immediately start to see how they can use the riots to further their political agenda.
Think Reichstag fire…

The rabid right on Twitter are happily conflating yesterday’s riots in Malmo, where there were none, and Stockholm, (450 miles away), where 12 cars were burned out as disenfranchised migrant groups did riot after a drugs raid. No one died, no one was actually shot.
They say that these violent events show how you cannot allow migrants and refugees into any country. They don’t care to count gun deaths because that doesn’t suit the Americans’ agenda, they don’t want to know that the USA gun owners shoot dead more people every week than Swedish people do in 3 years…No, they want to keep this as a migrant issue,
not just about violence or crime.

A sad boy from Battersea has managed to collect 500K followers as part of the Infowars assault on intelligence, and he is determined to prove that Sweden is a violent country because of immigrants, (the facts suggest this is the usual projection of crude Islamophobic racist bullshit). Amusingly several people have taken him up on his offer to “give £2000 to any journalist who will go and reside in the immigrant quarter of Malmo and report on the reality”. He has given money to one, but not responded to the others – one of whom is now taking him to small claims court for breach of promise.

It is all most amusing, or would be if it wasn’t part of a massive upsurge in overt xenophobia and racist actions including physical assault and murder in this actual country where my family all live.  I liked the country I was living in, all through the 1990s and 2000s. I thought Farage was a ridiculous fart that people would see through and see off, but no – the Tory party rallied around the isolationist cause, and with Corbyn trying the “nuanced approach” to a policy that few people could understand even in simple terms, – we have gone backwards. Soon to return to the little failed state off the coast of Europe having betrayed the entire EU peace promotion project.

Will we somehow be “safer” from riots, and unemployment, and housing crises if we manage to prevent EU free immigration?
if we prevent refugees from coming here?

I do not believe so – I am sure we will suffer economically, and see our services decline further. The core enemy, for which migrants are the straw man, being Tory Austerity policy, which is proven not to work in economic or social prosperity terms.

When will we get riots in the UK again?
I wonder. We’ve had a few in prisons and detention centres, we are seeing a return to demonstrations against government actions, I would guess the usual agent provocateurs will now be building up to action.
All we need is a long hot summer.

 

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Lies, Jokes and Nazis

Phrases or words you may have heard…election-rig
“Alt Right”, “Post Truth”, voter suppression, and now, “Heil Trump” and Neo Nazis.

Like many people I treated much of Trump’s campaign as a joke – a bad taste joke – but nevertheless, all approached with the calm assurance that even the dumber half of America couldn’t vote this clown into power.  We even joked about Nazis, never thinking that Alt-Reich fans of his could assemble in a hall and chant Heil Trump with Nazi salutes.
A thousand think pieces have analysed why it happened but every day now we wake up in a Trump world.

“Don’t worry, we have systems that will counter his crazier aspects and it won’t be that bad”, say some about the Donald disaster…I get it, I really do – the situation is so discomforting and confusing that it feels essential to just calm down and see if the bad nightmare can just be moderated downwards for the next 4 years.

Except this is almost exactly what the German middle class felt in 1936.

What Trump is doing in terms of clawing back freedoms and new programmes of denying human rights is likely to be maintained for way longer than 4 years, even if he is impeached, because he gets to nominate a pet Zeig Heil judge to the Supreme court – giving that court the ability to overturn Roe v Wade, and every other federal law that permits blacks, women, gays and ordinary liberal people the right to live in the land of the semi-free rather than a church dogma based dictatorship.

If you are not scared and angry then you must be waltzing into the disaster zone. Watching an excess of Strictly Come Dancing is not going to be such a fun memory for those in internment camps and jail for the ghastly crime of striving to live free of oppression.

The “alt right” is more properly called the “all Reich”;
Neo-Nazis who want to destroy every advance of feminism,  re-enslave the African Americans, kick all the Jews out of the country and drown the Mexicans. These are white supremacist men whose sense of entitlement is so extreme that they will stop at nothing to do others down for their own sad egos to thrive and gorge on Hitlerian fantasies.
The nay sayers to this warning may notice that our comfortable existence continues to hang on in there for a while but it is already starting to slip, I am not going to be part of a lazy majority that lets the whole thing slide.

I get criticism for being angry about this sort of thing and wonder if that same criticism would be levelled at my Dad for climbing into a Spitfire and actually killing people who were trying to inject those repressive ideas all the way across Europe and, from there, the world.
He was fighting this same thinking, these same debased ideologies that are central to Trump’s assembled team of far right goons.
The Brexidiots have lost us the long term protection from that old style of war that was the guiding principle of the EU. Now some are celebrating the arrival of Trump, Fool-bully Boris Johnson, as our Foreign Secretary, and Nigel Farage being suggested as ambassador to the USA. The lunatics are trying to take over not just the asylum, but every branch of diplomatic influence.
Lord Rothermere from his tax avoiding French exile pulls strings that cause a flood of anger against judges that are trying to simply preserve the rule of law.enemies-of-the-people

He was a personal Friend of Adolf’s, and his newspaper, the Daily Wail, supported Hitler right up to the outbreak of war. Do you read his family’s rag and agree that Judges are “enemies of the people”? a phrase that has gone down in the pages of infamy as belonging all the worst regimes in history…

All it takes for these ideas to take hold and then take actions that harm the whole world is for ordinary people to say nothing, to not risk appearing angry, to not object to gay rights being rolled back, nor Jews attacked in the street, nor Muslims being drowned to prevent them fleeing to the west from a war of the west’s making.
Kim Jong Un must be amazed and also laughing at how the rest of the world is sinking to his level.
As Frankie Boyle said, David Bowie was always one step ahead, like he could see the next trend coming and always be one step ahead of the game. It seems he saw 2016 coming and decided it was time to get the hell out of here.

I sure hope I see things swing back again before I pop my clogs. In the meantime I will only be able to carry on writing, encouraging, getting angry, objecting, and striving to make people think through the consequences of letting the powers that were (however unpopular they may have been) become the powers of the crazy right.

 

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The Church of England: Sod bless you.

Bishops & rooks

A Bishop coming out as Gay has highlighted, once again, the muddled and inhumane thinking of the Church of England

(other insane church’s rules are available).

The Archbishop of Canterbury has said that he knew he was bestowing the famous funny hat on someone, ‘in a committed gay relationship’, but that he was happy that they were obeying the Church’s rules on celibacy, or abstinence, within that context.
So what are ‘the Church’s rules on celibacy’ for its officers?
How does the Church of England define this rule it has made?
The generally accepted dictionary definition of celibacy includes the idea of ‘not being married’, but more pertinent to this rule within the church is this subset definition of abstinence:

Justin Welby

The leader of the restrictive Church of Anglicanism

…abstaining from some or all aspects of sexual activity, often for some limited period of time. – (Wikipedia)

More significantly for the topical news case, the Anglican Church also ruled in 1998 that  ‘homosexual practice’ is ‘incompatible with Scripture’ – (Lambeth conference).
But what is ‘homosexal practice’?

I could find nothing in the Church’s rules that comes close to defining the boundaries of what this means, ‘in practice’, so I asked an authority on the Church of England and Biblical issues, how the C of E might be defining ‘Homosexual practices’, in the context of rules for gay bishops happily living together in a committed relationship. We met in a private location in Gloucester and in this interview he is referred to as Paul. For obvious reasons, he asked to remain anonymous.

Smile of Decade: “Can we begin, Paul,  by defining “celibacy” in the context of the Church of England?”
Paul: “Well, Patrick, it is perhaps not as tightly defined as one would hope, given the immense amount of time and effort that Synods and conferences have spent discussing the issue of homosexuality within the church, and at what level of involvement this becomes a problem..”
SoD: “By ‘level of involvement’ do you mean in terms of differentiating between members of the congregation and then priests and bishops?”
P: “Yes, we do have a different approach to the expectations placed upon those in holy orders from those members of the congregation, and this has been historically the case in many areas…Priests, monks and nuns have taken vows of celibacy for many centuries prior to the establishment of the Church of England, and rules regarding their standards of behaviour have been stricter than is now the case… and yet only enforced to varying degrees. There have also been rules regarding what is acceptable behaviour among those accepting communion…”
SoD: “Such as with adultery, divorce and remarriage?”
P: “Well I don’t want to get too deeply into the detail or we could be here all day (laughs) …but there are different expectations placed on priests and bishops that are an essential part of remaining in that role, yes”.

SoD: “Avoiding the other details then, how do you define celibacy, as in the topical case of the Bishop of Grantham. He has the blessing of the Archbishop of Canterbury, who said he, ‘knew he was in a committed but celibate gay relationship’, when he was appointed as a bishop?”
P: “I am of course familiar with the news story and, whilst wishing to keep my discussion to generalities rather than specific cases, my understanding of this case is that they have long been committed to each other in a loving way that involves no sexual practices whatsoever, and this is what the Church means by acceptable celibate behaviour in this context”
SoD: “So that means they have sexual feelings but must not express them in any way?”
P: “…any physical way, that is correct”.
SoD: “So, no holding hands?”
P: “No, no, I wouldn’t go that far, holding hands in a non public place would be seen as acceptable, I’m sure”
SoD: “so, at home – but holding hands in public, say in a park, or walking up the aisle of a Cathedral..?”
P: “Let’s be clear, there are no written rules that speak to these precise details, it is a generalised position concerning homosexual practices that is the rule of the Church”.
SoD: “But a married bishop holding hands with his or her straight partner is OK?”
P: “Yes, yes, that sort of behaviour has been accepted for many years, ever since clergy have been allowed to marry. This dates I would say, from Martin Luther in 1525, but I would suggest that walking down a church aisle holding hands with one’s spouse is a situation that just would not arise”.

a spokesman

a spokesman

SoD: “…except at the actual wedding ceremony perhaps..”
P: “(laughs) yes – there I think you may have the exception”

SoD: “So, are there any practices that a straight married couple are also prohibited from doing when one of them is a member of the clergy?”
P: “I believe that the Church has never set guidelines on this, apart from requiring all its clergy to follow those laws of the land in which they are performing their duties. As you know, the Archbishop of Canterbury is the leader of the Worldwide Anglican community and laws in each nation can vary greatly”.
SoD: “Well, here is where I have some difficulty in understanding what the Church means by ‘homosexual practices’ – I mean, if there are no definitions of prescribed or sanctioned heterosexual practices, what is it that is proscribed within a committed, loving, homosexual relationship?”
P: “The Biblical references would of course be to the practices of sodomy as generally attributed to the historical town of Sodom in the book of Genesis…”
SoD: “But even in the Genesis story there is no specific mention of practices that God found so abhorrent, is there? I mean none of the Genesis translations even mention homosexuality explicitly”.
P: “It is the accepted meaning rather than the literal text, I grant you that, but as you say, more importantly for the purposes of our discussion, there are no specific definitions, beyond the Leviticus verse concerning, the prohibition of a man “laying as he doth with a woman”.
SoD: “The same chapter that condemns to death those who pick up sticks on the Sabbath or wear clothes made of two different fabrics?”
P: “I feel we may get lost in the interpretations of the Old Testament here, which do not, in any case, provide us with the answers you are seeking regarding the modern day church practices”.

bishops

Not gay at all.

We broke at this point due to an interruption from a cleaner who did not know the room was occupied and it was only after a cup of tea and some further personal conversation that Paul returned to the subject at hand.

SoD: “It seems to be a given that the Church has some rules that govern what is permitted behaviour in the privacy of the bedroom, particularly among those in the most highly paid positions within the organisation, is that a reasonable comment?”
Paul: “In the context of any committed relationship within the roles and duties of the clergy it is clear that ‘homosexual practices’ are forbidden, that is correct”.
SoD: “Excuse my explicitness here but it seems to me we have to actually define what constitutes ‘homosexual practices’, for this discussion to have any meaningful outcome at all, so can we be specific and say that anal intercourse is what is banned?”
P: “that much I would say is very clear – very clear indeed”.
SoD: ” and this would apply, for example, to a bishop and a straight partner of whichever gender as well?”

P: “Yes, that is my understanding, though I must reiterate, these are matters of interpretation when it comes to heterosexual relationships, and not church rules”
SoD: “So straight couples are not in fact governed by the exact same rules regarding types of sexual practices?”
P: “In practice, I would say not, and this is to admit that the Church has not discussed in depth any aspects of heterosexual behaviour, which is why this does not really apply”.
SoD: “but the same physical practices that are seen as forbidden in gay relationships among the clergy do in fact occur, and frequently, within many loving straight relationships. Does this not strike you as, at least, an inconsistency?”
P: “the rules are set regarding…”
SoD: “but even the law has trouble here,  typically, Sodomy is understood by courts to include any sexual act deemed to be ‘unnatural’ or immoral.  Sodomy typically includes anal sex, oral sex and bestiality, there is no differentiation between heterosexual and homosexual involvement in these.
So I am getting the impression that the Church has no problems with straight couples having oral sex but that this might well be included in ‘homosexual practices’ that the Bishop of Grantham and his partner must be expected to avoid?”
P: “As I said, the Church does not go into detail about what goes on in the privacy of the bedroom…”
SoD: ” …and is in denial about the whole idea of it being for pleasure rather than just procreation?”
P: “Now you are touching on the whole nature of the Church’s historical attitude towards sex, and that is a minefield… going back before Henry VIII, Martin Luther, back to the very foundations of the Church as we know it. “Go forth and multiply” is interpreted by the Catholics as implying that sex without the purpose of procreation is not to be encouraged, a sin even. The whole premise of Anglicanism, of Protestantism, is that we are more liberated than that. We regard the use of condoms as entirely acceptable and encourage all members of the clergy and the laity to rejoice in the pleasures of a loving relationship, but still – we only sanction the practice of sexual intercourse once married”.
SoD: “But gay priests can’t marry”.
P: “That is correct, but it is still an issue for future debate. The church is moving forwards all the time and who knows where the public mood and Synod may take us by the end of this millennium”.
SoD: “I don’t believe we have settled on a practical definition of celibacy but I suspect that this is, in fact, beyond the capacity of such an institution as the Church of England”
P: “It may well be so, yes”.
SoD: “Thank you for your time.”

 

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Blair would have smashed them to pieces!

tory turmoil

It’s probably true – the Blair Brown party of the year 2000 would have, if now the opposition, made total mincemeat of the mess that the Tories have made of trying to be politicians in the face of an EU blunder of blunders.

Every prominent leave campaigner has left the stage pursued by phantom bears.
Those who wanted to ‘take back control’ have said, “Really, no, I was joking, I don’t fancy this, it means disaster doesn’t it”,
A golden opportunity for a united left of centre Labour party to take the reins, rule the polls and charge back to power…isn’t it?
and that would be – New Blair, New Labour!
promising further privatisation of the NHS, new war in Iraq, more Academy schools sold of to the private sector, more austerity, a curtailing of benefits, immigration controls, a weak commitment to a single market, acquiescence to Rupert’s agenda and so much more…

Except they wouldn’t publicly promise that of course – they’d get very few votes if they did, – but on past form, that is what they would deliver once in power.
That is why I don’t want Blairites and others “winning” – which they keep saying is what they have to focus upon to achieve change whilst mocking those who fail to prioritise the winning mantra…
Well pardon me if I don’t want a nominal Labour party in power breaking such promises and lining their own pockets, while the poor bloody infantry wonder why they joined the union in the first place. That would be the lack of change that this kind of winning would bring.
If that is what we have to do to win, I’ll take Corbyn’s “losing”, thanks – he may be an ineffectual leader but at least he talks and acts like an honest broker of a potential base to build on. Besides, the failed 2015 Miliband “Blair-lite” bid left the Tories unfettered in power. How would reverting to that manifesto help anyone win?
At the moment the Chuku/Benn/Bradshaw elite squad don’t have anyone – or at least anyone better than Ed – but want to play the “(get rid of Corbyn and) we will be at least better than the Tories” line at the next election, as if they can reach the disaffected 2/3rds of the nation and charge to power with such bullshit.

British Politics is a mess
and by the time it stops being a mess we are likely to be at climate change hell x3 point with a bunch of us Greens saying “Told you so” as we commit suicide in vats of home knitted yoghurt…

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How easy it is to tire of trying for equality.

I have taken a risk on twitter…
I have had the temerity to wonder why someone could be so sure that Amnesty International was utterly wrong. Not just any old Amnesty International issue – that of sex workers, and how their human rights might be better protected. 

AI is an organisation I have had issues with in the past that led me to resign membership – but which I still believe does some essential worldwide human rights work.
So what could have led to this statement..?

Fem1

I have had a good look at what Amnesty International have done, what they have said regarding the sex industry worldwide.
I know they have said some dumb things about genital mutilation, as being “cultural practices” rather than abuse, so I was ready to see a shitstorm heading their way.
I looked at their presentation of their report.
Then I looked at their Q&A page.
I picked out this paragraph by way of a contrast with the statement from “The Groganator”.
AI disagreeThere is an organisation called SPACE that a twitter friend steered me towards – and they took issue with AI in the way that made me believe they are seeking a dialogue and to make AI change their minds over the wisdom of their position statement.
They finish their statement thus:

“We put it to you, Amnesty International, directly and publicly, that you are on the brink of an enormous public failure, and if you vote to decriminalise human rights violations, that failure will fall heavily on all those abused in the Sex-Trade, on your own human rights principles, and on yourselves.”

Having looked at both orgs experience and statements I can make an observation on where they disagree on basic facts:
The Norwegian model is hailed as a success by SPACE and described as a failure by Amnesty. They cannot both be right.
Someone could probably do a good comparison piece of research and writing on the Swedish and Norwegian models – Oh, someone has.

The biggest noticeable difference in views appears to be based on interpretations of narratives from sex workers in Norway, Sweden and the west – and those in Africa, Latin America and Asia. Amnesty seems to be the only organisation that is not focusing purely on the western experience.

I have seen the various statements, by individuals and groups, some positive, some searching, some glib, some too narrowly focused – and some attempting to produce policies that cover the whole world. This last one is the bold attempt made by Amnesty International.
I think it is this boldness that has tripped them up. The world is too big for one set of laws, and the principles are too easily misinterpreted when laws in certain countries are cited as examples. Fem3

Very few “Angry Feminists” want to have it “mansplained”(or explained by women they disagree with) that perhaps the sex worker view in the developing world might be actually very different from that in the western world.
So I am on a hiding to nothing –
I want to be a force for good in the world but apparently I am not allowed to comment on a world issue of equality such as this.

I genuinely believe that this extreme edge of feminism is barking up a wrong tree.
Some describe this behaviour as radical but I see it delaying or even negating the very equality they say they are aiming for.

“Men like me” founded “Crèches against sexism” – providing much appreciated crèche services for Women’s Aid conferences in Wales in the 1980s.
“Men like me” have campaigned for genuine equality for over 35 years in the sincere belief that the restrictive roles that go hand in glove with patriarchy are a destructive force that hurts men far more than some misinterpretations of equality ever could.
“Men like me” have taken positive action, in groups, arranging conferences, demonstrations, projects, – not just made statements or researched all that agrees with our own cognitive biases.

“Men like me” may want to see an end to gender wars altogether
– doesn’t everyone want to see them ended?
I doubt anyone is really ready, and it may take much longer than my children’s lifetimes, but I would most happily live in a world in which the absence of gender as an identity meant the end of male entitlement.

Women like those engaged in dismissing Amnesty International’s report as denying human rights to all women,  “supporting pimps and the enslavement of women”, are shooting other women in the foot, by splashing a Tabloid style exaggeration of an angry dismissive stance when engagement and dialogue are the only way to tackle an issue like this.

The feminism of people like Janet Radcliffe-Richards that I admired in the 1980s seems to have been lost in the chasm between the loud and rigid post millennium radicals and the ladettes betraying the history they fail to study.

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Duncan Smith’s hell hole and Ken Loach.

LoachKen Loach has won the Palme D’or at Cannes for his film, “I Daniel Blake”, that savages the government’s austerity policies and the benefits system in particular –
Not sure I am going to be able to relax and see it…
Here’s why.
It takes a lot of gritting teeth to actually even begin to try and claim benefits. I would be totally amazed if any of those infamous job stealing migrants could ever make it through the process…
but I was advised, following redundancy that, pending getting a new job at age 60, I should at least find out – so apply, online at first, I did.

I thought it might manage to guide me through but no, it told me I had to ring – I tried but that “didn’t work” either – and so I made a complaint, online,
this one:-
“What is the nature of your complaint about Jobseekers allowance?”
(Tick box= trying to apply)

“I eventually got through on the phone…
I was speaking very clear English, (my wife agreed)
– she (your worker) kept saying “sorry” with an exasperated questioning tone like I was speaking from a distant planet.
As I was explaining why I was applying, for what, and what my query was, for the third time, giving all the answers to her questions – that she clearly didn’t understand -she hung up.

All this after massive delays on hold and a phone message repeating ad nauseam that I should apply online – which is exactly where I had been applying, getting past the repeated questions (very DWP old school) until it finally told me I could NOT apply online and directed me to the phone number…

The whole process feels like a Kafka-esque charade designed to stop people from applying or drive them insane in the attempt.

I have 2 degrees and years of public speaking experience, I feel for those who have greater difficulty with communications.

The fact is I have been made redundant, have a wife who is self employed and works less than 20 hours, for a pittance, and I need to find out if I have to burn my modest savings or can get back some of that tax (“contribution based”) that I have been paying in order that Iain Duncan Smith can have free £39 breakfasts at our expense while he drives disabled people to suicide…

so, a simple complaint really –
do you want to serve, or kill people?
Ken Loach wants to know.”

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Bias?…in the entertainment news?

austerityThere is an ongoing debate about the nature of bias in the news.
Some people actually believe that their favourite news source (paper, TV channel, web site) is not biased – that it has some objectivity.
Others know that this is a laughable idea based on the reader/viewer’s own cognitive bias.

Nothing seems to kick up my twitter friends so much at the moment as the perceived bias of the BBC News.

Many people are posting their disgust at the absence of coverage of their demonstrations, or perhaps of how biased the coverage of Prime Minister’s questions is, and they are often exaggerating or quite wrong about this…jumping on a bandwagon without examining the evidence.

Likewise some staunch defenders of the BBC seem to obsess about ridiculing these exaggerations and blanket statements dismissing them as “lazy memes” yet also avoiding the evidence of a long running bias, and more recent abject stance towards the Overton Window the BBC itself helped to move to the right.
Paul Mason has highlighted this following his being “eased out” of Newsnight for stepping outside the window to the centre left.
This is all arguable – and ripe for better debate – what it is not, is dismissable. Unless of course you are part of the group that wants to maintain the status quo and the position of that damn Overton window.

To help illustrate where some of the reality lies I take you back to my own experience of being a freelance sound recordist for both Channel 4 and BBC news during the miners strike of 1984. From the safe distance of over thirty years, some of the bias has now been quietly admitted to.

Take an example of picture editing, of which I was a first hand witness, that got the miners at Port Talbot steelworks picket justifiably riled. So frequently did editors decide to belittle miners and big up the police that they turned an HTV emblazoned Volvo upside down as it sat up the lane from a miners family support meeting in the Valleys.

For those unfamiliar with the strike and Thatcher’s determination to destroy the union that had previously humiliated a conservative government, -a tiny bit of background to just one month in South Wales:
At the height of the strike in South Wales an idiot strike supporter dropped a rock from a motorway bridge on a “scab’s taxi”. It killed the driver. This was a disaster for those two individuals and their families, and a shame and hammer blow to the miners, tarred with the brush of that one man’s insane act. The media quite rightly gave the incident massive coverage.

Some weeks later, me with the picket strictly limited to 6 people allowed big lorryanywhere near the steelworks gates, I was pointing my mic at these massive lorries bringing in coal to beat the strike – (not these actual lorries – much older ones)
The M4 convoys had police protection on a large scale, but most had no tax discs, many had bald tyres, and all of them enjoyed swerving at speed to make the pickets jump out of the road.

The police did their best to stop us filming this for C4 news. They got in the way as soon as we focused on the lorries windscreens (they had just heard the pickets shouting “SHOW THEY HAVEN’T GOT TAX DISCS”).
Then we were deemed to be inflating the picket number above 6 so we were forced to leave (camera, sound and director somehow counted as pickets).
But S4C showed our footage at least – of these terrifyingly fast moving huge lorries swinging past the pickets – as part of their news coverage.

HTV on the  other hand were also covering the strike at that time. The HTV footage of the road-illegal lorries was shot from a different spot.
This one.
motorway bridgeNice and safe for the camera crew, easy lunching nearby…
The difference was dramatic and I suggest it was not some random decision to use the POV of someone who had dropped a rock killing a taxi driver. It very neatly made the lorries and their drivers look like potential victims.

So before any commentary is added, without any sharp interviews, the scene is already set by the imagery of nominally the same event.
“Photographs don’t lie? – nothing lies so effectively.

Orgreave_faceoffThis well known image is taken from Orgreave. It unwittingly reflects an early reality from the strike.
Initially local police did the policing of the pickets, including in South Wales where the Valleys loyalty meant that the police would not arrest or assault their mates and neighbours in the NUM for no reason, they policed the picketing as per the law but would not go further.
This was not helping Maggie and the establishment objective – to destroy the power of the unions and do it by crushing the miners. So they introduced new laws and practices. Infamously they made “suspicion of travelling to a picket line not of that person’s employment base” an arrestable offence.
This law was written in such a way as to be a licence to prevent any car travel,
(many police states stop short of writing that power into law).

They also did another thing that the news media never reported. They moved police forces from one area to another – so Yorkshire police were camped in South Wales, Notts Police in Yorkshire, and so on. This broke the loyalty to geographic worker community and made the police feel like advance brigades in a war.

The BBC news showed the infamous “Orgreave riots” in their main bulletins as miners throwing rocks and attacking static lines of police and police on horseback – then, the police on horseback charging back. That little “slip” of an edit helped shape the public opinion of miners as scum who attack policemen whilst speech editing helped show Scargill as their raucous Marxist leader.

The reality of Orgreave was the other way round.
The police charged a peaceful static line of miners and they then charged back.

orgreaveThis photograph did not make the news mainstream channels at the time. It shows a photographer being attacked as part of that police charge.

No outrage from the BBC?
Of course not, they had already towed Maggie’s line with the shameless editing and much more. To go back on their version of events would make them look self contradictory and ridiculous. So even sympathetic journalists in the know stayed quiet, just let it ride.

Back to the present day and people wanting to disect bias in the BBC coverage can focus on (just for example) Laura Kuennsberg, James Landale or Nick Robinson patronisingly sneering at Jeremy Corbyn or sycophantically interviewing their mate, David Cameron in his kitchen.

Looking at their linked Wikipedia profiles – Isn’t it strange how none of them have ever been in poverty, had to get their nails dirty, fight for union rights, or budget in order to buy a pint of milk? Instead they have been cosseted in a path of privately schooled entitlement, that holds the promise of a place in the Lords or at least a major gong.
Hard to see Paul Mason as anything other than a temporary “token northerner” gesture in that line up isn’t it?

This is not new.
BBC News is not, and never has been, about “truth”…
(though some of course must be used)
No one wants the truth – including you. That would be way too uncomfortable, messy and loose ended…no, we want our news to keep us all on the level path.
The TV news is part of a system of entertainment under the guiding control of the establishment (which includes Labour governments) and has been since its inception.

And congratulations if you know who these people are and what connects them:-
Joseph Albert Pease, 1st Baron Gainford
George Herbert Hyde Villiers, 6th Earl of Clarendon
John Henry Whitley
William Clive Bridgeman, 1st Viscount Bridgeman
Ronald Collet Norman
Sir Allan Powell
Philip Inman, 1st Baron Inman
Ernest Simon, 1st Baron Simon of Wythenshawe
Sir Alexander Cadogan
Sir Arthur Fforde
Sir James Fitzjames Duff
Norman Craven Brook, 1st Baron Normanbrook
Lord Hill of Luton
Sir Michael Swann
George Howard, Baron Howard of Henderskelfe
Stuart Young
Marmaduke Hussey, Baron Hussey of North Bradley
Sir Christopher Bland
Gavyn Davies
Lord Ryder
Lord Michael Grade

Yes, that’s right – it’s a game of spot the blue collar worker,
the blue party member
and the team of blue blooded, establishment protecting, board of governorship chairs of the BBC since 1930.
Gavyn Davies is highlighted as an exception because as a multi-millionaire he was surprisingly more Left wing friendly than most, and resigned after the Hutton enquiry was used to bring the BBC back to heel, (and how that has succeeded!), after it dared to criticise the Blair government for possibly “causing the death by suicide” of David Kelly for trying to reveal the truth about war-based Blairism.

It isn’t about Party bias!
The establishment has successfully pulled the two longest running Labour governments in my lifetime to heel. They spied on Wilson to the point of sending him into a paranoid state, and they successfully turned Blair into a privatisation and greed-friendly true blue (and now advisor to David Cameron). The establishment:
you may be sick of hearing the word and unable to truly define it, but whatever it is, it is always seeking to remain in control, always wanting to win more, always in power, and always playing the little people off against each other…

The BBC not biased?
bury another miner – he’s got balls on.

 

 

 

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Ever since I was a little person…

.genderqueer..I have accepted some norms and questioned others.
Throughout my childhood I remember several occasions when I pondered what it meant to be a boy or a girl. I was very clearly pronounced to be a boy and I played happily with many boys and girls – one of those girls becoming my best friend, a girl-friend.

I also remember, now just through a photograph, a scene of me dressed as a girl, sheepishly holding my sister’s hand, knowing that she really wanted me to be a sister – not a cis-ter.

I somehow knew then, that I could not be what she wanted, but as time went by I also questioned whether I could be the male that everyone else seemed to want me to be…I slowly accepted maleness because it was easy, perhaps my dominant side, and allowed me to join the better-off club. By aged fourteen I could clearly tell that boys had a much easier life than girls, and yet I longed to get back to that world where my girl-friend, Jane, and I could play trains, and all sorts of games, indoor and outdoor, kiss on the swing, and for it to be completely unimportant what society, or our genitalia said we should be…

When I moved to Aylesbury, boyorgirlaged sixteen, and wanted desperately to fit in to a new school, I was so grateful when Adrian Needs asked if I wanted to go to the Friars club the next Saturday. I had no idea what this club was, or what music act the 80 pence would allow me to see, but I was in “the club”, with “the hip boys” from school.

To say that seeing David Bowie was life changing would be an understatement. It was not just me that felt the ground shift, most of my new friends at the Sir Henry Floyd School also appeared to be a bit liberated by this charismatic star who was delightfully crossing the gender boundaries and powerfully OK about it.  We were all immediate members of the unofficial Bowie fan club.

Fast forward past the years of film business work, (& more Bowie gigs), the separation from gender-fluidity as an ideal that developed from work in the film business, and we get to the subsequent brushes with the issues of sexuality and fluidity that sometimes seemed to fill the social work training course.

One woman, Jacqui Jabloui, the director of Cardiff MIND, opened (or reopened) the eyes of many of us with her tutorial group course on the nature of sexuality. I realised when we we were asked to stand on an imaginary line, between the poles of being 100% straight all my lifetime, and 100% gay all my lifetime… that I was nearer the pole of 100% straight than to the centre line, but that I had moved up and down between those two points ever since I was a baby.

This set in motion a determination that my children (then less than 1 year and unborn) would never be forced by us as parents to be one way or another…

Now I sit in my room, having read the debates about male/female/other – Germaine Greer’s frightened feminist arguments, that trans people apparently threaten to spoil…
I am not “found”,
I have not “completed a journey”
and I am not trans, being quite comfortable in my male skin after all these 60 years…
what I am is fascinated
and determined to support the idea that a genderqueer world would be the best world.
When CN Lester was on Newsnight and told “…you were born a woman..”
and replied, “No, I was born a baby”, my heart soared with recognition.
That is what I was born, what we are all born.
I have no desire to force people into being of a different gender identity to that which they own, but…
does it not strike you as possible, that we do not need to separate people by these gender definitions?
The feeling I get, of a glimpse of human unity, when discussing any topic with people who describe themselves as somewhere in the movement for gender fluidity and trans liberation, is such a good one.
I can sympathise with women like Germaine Greer who have fought a long hard battle for a more solid defence of female status. It has often been the case that equality battles have foundered on race/culture, other oppressed group’s overlapping political issues, but I cannot go along with the notion that it is equality that is under threat from trans people lobbying about being able to choose unisex toileting facilities.

There was a private club in Newport, exilio-gay-clubthe Speakeasy, which was in the basement from the Stowaway club, where I took my best punk band photographs back in the late 70s. The owners always invited me and the bands down for a drink after the gig had finished and the Punk punters were all leaving. It was notable that Siouxsie Sioux was one of the few band visitors who was instantly at home down there.

The club was a gay club, yes, but among the transvestites and all others (all of us using the one, unisex toilet), I got to know a couple who had been together for 8 years, 4 of these as a gay male couple, and now as a straight couple, (their words),
but unable to get married – because Julie’s sex change operation did not allow her legal recognition as a woman.
I joked that since this was a gay club they shouldn’t even be members any more.
We laughed.
What a ridiculous idea…

 

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