Emmeline Pankhurst's Birthday | Jennie Rigg
Today is Emmeline Pankhurst's birthday. Emmeline Pankhurst gets a lot of credit. She's got a statue outside parliament and everything. A lot of the credit she gets, she doesn't deserve. By the time women actually got the vote, the WSPU had been disbanded. So my post for Emmeline Pankhurst's birthday isn't going to be about her.
It's about Millicent Fawcett, who you really should have heard of and who really really deserves the credit for getting the franchise extended. Pankhursts? Shouted a lot, annoyed people and had good publicists.

Go read, because while not written the way I was going to write it, is the post I was going to write tomorrow morning, she just stole my research...
Two posts in a row by completely different blogs, both discussing the Bechdel Test, which I've always found fascinating[1]. If you're not aware of it, it's a fairly simple little test to apply to an entertainment:
1. Does it have at least two women in it,
2. Who [at some point] talk to each other,
3. About something besides a man.
See? How easy is that to fulfil as an objective? Everything should pass that one, right? Shame it's not true. Shame that, in reality, a huge amount of stuff, including stuff with strong female lead characters, fails it. Even authors that consciously try to ensure their work isn't sexist manage to fail it regularly, as Charlie Stross has found out. It seems though, that despite many of the writers gender neutrality failings, Doctor Who doesn't do too badly, even taking into account the added complication of the significant central character being male.

Of course, the test isn't perfect—there are some perfectly good films where none of the characters are realistic, male or female, and in some it would be innapropriate to try to fulfil it. But for most shows or films, that are supposedley 'realistic', don't you think it should be a fairly normal thing to manage? Charlie's conclusion goes further than I think I would, but he's probably not too far off[2]:
The current decade is characterized by ... a socially conservative culture, of retreat from liberalism, and a strong anti-feminist backlash. Our popular media, far from being the bastions of liberal values ... are actually belwethers of popular culture, ... reflecting our culture's normative values back at us ... What they're showing this decade is really rather disturbing if you happen to agree with the core feminist ideological belief that women are real people too, not just baby factories and sex objects.

TV has always been bad ... but of late, the messages coming at us out of the mass media are nothing short of toxic. If movies and TV objectified people of colour the way they do women, the only reasonable conclusion one could draw would be that a concerted propaganda campaign was under way to return us to the unquestioned institutional racism of the 1950s.
Given that I watch a lot less TV than most people, and even fewer films, is he right?

[1] Or scary, or just Plain Wrong, depending on how bad the film or show in question actually is. I'm pretty sure it was [livejournal.com profile] innerbrat that first made me aware of it.

[2] I'm excising a lot of text from this quote, marked by elipses, I do think the whole post is worth reading in its own right though.
In a discussion about the interesting Beeb article on gender differences [livejournal.com profile] andrewducker says:
You know, the quality of comments like this, and the breadth of knowledge available on my friends list is one of the reasons I love livejournal.
I'd amend it slightly to say blogging generally, but LJ, with the built in friends list aggregator, does make it very easy to keep in touch with a huge chunk of people with knowledge in specific areas way beyond my own.

Not sure on the research as presented, she's definitely got a point, but as always generalisations can be beaten by specifics--my index and ring finger are roughly the same length, and I definitely show both "male" and "female" traits depending on context, and I know a fair number of women that are a lot more "male" than me in most respects. But on the other hand, I definitely agree that a good mix of talents and a good gender ratio make for a much more succesful office/business in general situations, and I'm always slightly wary when a profession, office or place of work is too skewed one way or the other.
So, before I turn in, the USians have an important anniversary of a seminal court case. If you haven't heard of Roe vs Wade, seriously, what colour is the sky where you're from?

I don't like the idea that abortion happens. I wish it didn't. I wish that access to contraception wasn't ever difficult, that it was reliable, that education and informed choices were the norm, that some people didn't ever feel so desparate that they need or want to remove a living being from them. But there is no way in hell I'll ever support any plan to remove the right of a pregnant woman to choose for herself, and David Steel was 100% right to introduce and push through the Abortion Act 1967[1], and the fact that we're in a free society that accepts this right pretty much without question, weird crime-rate-reduction correlations aside, is a Good Thing. But I'm not writing a long post about this today. I'm posting to link to one better.

InnerBrat - Part of the reason I'm pro-choice is the fear that I don't have one myself.

Read. That is all.

[1] Reasons why feminists should be Liberals. First MP to propose equal voting rights? Liberal. MP to introduce the right to abortion? Liberal.
In lieu of a proper update, mostly-straight Mat would like to give another reason why he's more and more confident that (re)joining the Lid Dems was a good idea, from, unsurprisingly, [livejournal.com profile] alex_wilcock, also known as 'he who wrote the policy'.
Love and Liberty: Jack Straw Is My Darling:
When Paddy Ashdown was cross-examined by Jeremy Paxman for his most aggressive interview of the 1992 Election, gay equality was one of the three ‘ludicrous, extreme and unpopular’ policies on which the sneering Mr Paxman hammered Paddy and on which Paddy stood firm (I’ve forgotten one of them, but the other was green taxes – again, long before anyone else supported them). Just about the only positive press coverage on the issue was in a London-based free gay paper of the time. Capital Gay’s front page after the release of the three parties’ manifestos was one of my defining political memories, and one of the very few times in life when the number of inches really did matter.
It is, typically for Alex, a very long article, giving a potted history of the fight for equal rights and New Labour's fight against such a policy. Worth a read if you've got time. Hell, worth trying to make the time.
Did someone throw a bloggers gender awareness week thing and I missed the notification? Maybe I'm just noticing it a bit more, but discussions on objectification, stereotypes and dodgy attitudes seem to be everywhere I look at the moment. [livejournal.com profile] andrewducker reposted The Rules yesterday and the comment thread at that link is worth reading. Following that, SB made a comment to my post and expanded on it at Steve' s about the sexism of the vid I posted yesterday. She's followed it up with two posts today, asking Ever Wish You Could Switch a Part of Your Personality Off? and then as a Follow-on from the previous post:
Men are biologically designed to look upon women's bodies as sexy = men are biologically designed to look on women as things, not people?

The latter being in response to Steve's follow on post:
these days I find myself being offended at it for all the wrong reasons. Adverts for random things that feature bikini-clad Barbie dolls and “oooh!” music don’t make me think “I really wish they’d stop objectifying women, because it’s detrimental to women’s rights and society.” They make me think “I wish they’d stop being SO STUPID and assuming I am also very STUPID and why do they think a bored-looking model can make sink cleaner sexy anyway?”
And that, essentially, is as close to my take on it as I can manage to enunciate.I'm aware that I'm priviledged )and that some issues, even ones I care about, don't always cross my radar )but we all look at things through prisms, mine is governance, not sexism )The video yesterday was all about stereotypes, that's one of the reasons the comedy worked )and the argument for gender equality has, essentially, been won, the pay gap has lessened in most like-for-like comparisons, etc. )besides which, sometimes it's the men who face discrimination )and this sucks, besides, outdated societal notions were bad for all of us )and I like that these days I can be out-geeked by female friends )

I'm not deluding myself, I've not got on rose tinted goggles; I know that discrimination exists, that sexism exists, that we're Not There Yet.

But ultimately I'm an optimist. Things are getting better, people are treated better, women in the workplace are just accepted now, and attitudes that they don't belong there are, culturally, seen as unacceptable by the overwhelming majority of the people that I come into contact with.

But then, I mostly come into contact with young(ish) professional(ish) educated types. The so-called opinion formers. something which leads me to believe that things will continue to get better, that society will continue to improve. We've got to monitor, we've got to watch, we've got to be vigilant, to make sure it doesn't regress, but the world today has changed fromt eh world in which my mother left school at 14 to become a shop girl.

And that's a damn good thing.

OK, that was about three times longer than planned, and I rambled, and I need to tidy it up. Gah!

OK, the other part of the post becomes a separate post. Later. Possibly. And I was going to throw in more links to studies and stuff, but, y'know, Google is your friend. Or Yahoo if your name is Iain.
OK, Saturday, as I said, I was supposed to meet [livejournal.com profile] draich_goch and others in Exeter. I was also supposed to go to his Sat evening so I could watch the new Robin Hood. Only, y'know, the whole not watching TV thing meant I completely forgot about it.

Tonight, I went to his (to sort out some stuff for our ACW campaign, we are nasty little moderators), and after we'd done watched the recording he'd made.

Given the general consensus of my friends list from Saturday, I wasn't expecting much from it. Y'know what? My low expectations? Far too high.

Ye gods that was awful

Robin Hood ramblings )

Also, does anyone else find that they have absolutely great ideas for posts when completely unable to write them up, like while driving? I had one earlier, in response to this post by [livejournal.com profile] rho and the post she links to by [livejournal.com profile] wearemany. Both posts are great, and worth a read, but the money quote (well, my favourite) from [livejournal.com profile] rho has to be:
geeks, in my experience, tend to be tolerant, not out of any sort of moral or ethical conviction, but because they just don't care. Worrying about someone's sexuality just gives you less time to be concerned over more important things like their OS choice or their collection of polyhedral dice.
I'll try and write up what I was going to write when I'm not already up too late...
Great A'Tuin wedding cake? Yes please... (via here and here).

Also? There's a meme going around. Quote some bloke, declare you believe in gay rights, if you don't, you're probably a closet homophobe, etc. It's a great quote, but [livejournal.com profile] lithium_doll gives better from the same guy:
Words mean nothing. Action is the only thing. Doing. That's the only thing.
- Ernest Gaines

Do I believe in gay rights? No, I believe in equal rights. Complete equality before the law. What I chose to do with my partner(s) of choice, you have the right to do with yours. Or at least, you should do. I don't care what gender you prefer to sleep with, really. Gay marriage? How about we abolish marriage as a civil institution (religious types can keep it), and replace the legal aspects with bespoke contracts and partnerships that suit the individual(s)? Why are only couples who sleep together given legal status?

Meh, this was supposed to be a jokey post. But still, if'n you think I need to "prove" my dislike of bigotry, you may want to pay a little bit of attention to the contents of my friends list, n'est ce pas?
matgb: Artwork of 19th century upper class anarchist, text: MatGB (Default)

British Liberal, house husband, school play leader and stepdad. Campaigner, atheistic feminist, amateur baker. Male.

Known to post items of interest on occasions. More likely to link to interesting stuff. Sometimes talks about stuff he's done. Occasionally posts recipes for good food. Planning to get married, at some point. Enjoying life in Yorkshire.

Likes comments. Especially likes links. Loves to know where people came from and what they were looking for. Mostly posts everything publicly. Sometimes doesn't. Hi.

Mat Bowles

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October 2015


Stuff and nonsense

I'm the Chair of the Brighouse branch of the Liberal Democrats.

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