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The Lady (Marina)
This was previously posted on my blog; I don't normally cross-post politics stuff onto LJ these days, but I thought this is important enough to warrant disseminating in as many fora as possible.

As some of you may have heard, back in March Nadine Dorries MP and Frank Field MP proposed an amendment to the Helath Bill that will ban sexual health charities that also provide abortion, like BPAS and Marie Stopes International, from offering counselling to their patients, presumably on the grounds that they have a "conflict of interest" of some sort (this despite the fact that they are both not for profit organisations).

Whether because the Bill itself seems to have been kicked into the long grass, or because they think getting the amendment past the Lords is unlikely, Dorries and Field have been trying to get the DoH to make the desired changes to the law without actually changing the law - i.e. without a vote in Parliament. Yesterday, the DoH have announced that they are considering doing just that.

I've written a letter to Anne Milton, Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Public Health, to ask her to urgently clarify and - more importantly - justify such a presumption about the abortion providers and the decision to circumvent Parliament in changing the rules governing their services.

I'd really encourage you to write to her too, to disprove Nadine Dories's disingenuous claims on her blog that this amendment has "huge public support". Whehter you are passionately pro-choice or not, we all have a vested interest in making sure that the DoH can't meddle in our medical choices without so much as a democratic by-your-leave. If you agree to have your name added as a signatory, please comment below and I will include your name (real name and location would be best).

Letter behind the cutCollapse )
The Lady (Marina)
27 April 2011 @ 21:41
 Does anyone know of any good comics communities on here? Don't have to be feminist ones, but not woman-hostile or full of fapping fanboys, for preference.
The Lady (Marina)
30 April 2010 @ 10:33

Dear Willie Walsh,
I am writing to express my astonishment at the tone of the below email. After the couple of years BA has had - persistent delays, record baggage losses, thousands of bags piled up on the tarmac, a disastrous failure to launch T5 efficiently, gladiatorial union negotiations, tickets being sold for thousands of pounds while people sleep on airport floors (all accompanied by a steady growth in prices) - I would have expected at the very least that you could do better than simply point your unhappy and disgruntled customers to your website for information.
I am equally amazed at the fact that you would boast of the actions taken to fly stranded passengers back to their homes; with many still stranded, that is a monumentally insensitive approach to customer satisfaction. In fact it reminds me of nothing so much as David Brent's announcement to his staff that their jobs are about to be made redundant: "there is a silver lining though - I still have a job".
A dedicated helpline, some investment in customer communications, a clearly outlined action plan to bring home the stranded and compensate the unhappy... Any and all of these things would have made you sound more like a business magnate and less like a comedy character, Mr Walsh. You have lead your organisation from weakness to weakness, and it would behove you to show more humility in the face of what those of us in the reality-based community like to call "facts".

The offending emailCollapse )

The Lady (Marina)
02 January 2010 @ 18:57
2009 was the last year we could all imagine that politics, the environment, poverty and war are things we could do something about if we just cared hard enough. Here's to 2010 - the year which I think will teach us that no, actually, we can't. Will remind us that we live in a feudal system in which the poor pay towards the privileges of the rich people (or nations) that oppress them. will make us admit to ourselves that we have created a world in which larger and larger numbers of people will be condemned to greater and greater environmental deprivation and suffering.

The year in which fairness, once and for all, goes out the window, and we all have to grow up already. In which the rich and powerful, the violent, the malicious, the selfish, the greedy, rub our collective noses in the fact that while we've been doped up on the petrol fumes of 33% APR prosperity, they've highjacked the power structures from under us and no checks remain in place to stop them expanding the circle of misery to include as many of their fellow human beings as are needed to feed their rapacious egoes.

If the '90s were a decade of resurgent hope and optimism, the 00's have been a decade of sticking one's fingers in one's ears and singing "lalala" in the face of a tsunami. Almost everyone on my FL here and on Facebook are saying good riddance to 2009, but I have an aching heart and a hole at the pit of my stomach, a whispering that we may just miss it after all.
The Lady (Marina)
28 November 2009 @ 23:21
Those unfortunate enough to have exposure to my periodic episodes of wibble may recall that a while back a was very upset because, having taken the Guardian's carbon footprint calculator test, I found out that I have a much larger carbon footprint than the average UK consumer (17.6 to the average 15.4).

Now, before we go any further, allow me to briefly list some of the things I do to reduce my environmental impact:

- I don't own a car
- I walk to work (which is in Swindon, so you'll forgive me if I feel like I deserve a fucking cookie for not living somewhere nice and commuting)
- I live in a flat that is just big enough for 1 person
- I use energy saving appliances, and the minimum number of those - I have no toaster, microwave, tumble drier, or freezer and no gadgets other than a Kenwood Chef
- I don't watch TV, don't own a desktop computer (in fact don't own any computer at all - mine's a work laptop)
- I turn off all appliances at the wall when not in use
- I never turn my thermostat to over 19C
- I recycle all of my paper, cardboard, metal, glass, and plastic. My building doesn't have any recycling services from the council, so I do this mostly on foot to the bottle/paper banks
- I carry a folding shopper with me everywhere and use the very few plastic bags I do pick up as bin bags (I don't buy bin bags)
- I never throw books, clothes or homeware away; I either use them until they are fit for rags or give them to charity
- I've switched to buying 90% of my books second hand, in Oxfam shops or online (thanks, Sarah for the recommendations!)
- Last summer I started gradually taking meat out of my diet and now eat meat no more than once per week, and then only it it is certified organic and local (from the farmers market in Swindon or a farm shop in Downend where Alan lives)

So how, you'd be forgiven for asking, did I rack up 17.6 tonnes of carbon last year? Simple: I fly. Boy, do I fly. Approximately 4 times as much as the average person in the UK. And according to that calculator, this is the main contributor to my obscene footprint (though they had a few choice words for my reading and eating out habits, too).

Since that really put the wind up me, I have made all kinds of plans to reduce my flight numbers: we have 2 railway holidays and one trip to the Lake District scheduled for next year, so hopefully I will only have to fly home and for work, both of which are non-negotiable. Steps have been taken to tighten up the domestic discipline further. Eating out has been severely reduced. Xmas dinner is a nut roast.

But, far from letting me feel just a little bit good about myself for five fucking minutes, in comes the bloody Grauniad this weekend with it's "ethical living" special supplement, to tell me that, actually, the average carbon footprint of a UK person is 11 tonnes, and that even though civilian aviation contributes 2-3% of the total emissions in the world, it is nevertheless the number one thing you can be doing to hurt the planet, because it just is. And that even though there is no such thing as "ethical" airlines, it's the no-frills flights that you should really "stay away" from.

Which tells me two things:

1. They don't actually know what they're talking about anymore
2. This is really a moral issue for them now, with that competitive purity component to which the bar is set so high as to be unachievable, condemning everyone to a state of perpetual sinfulness

Oh, and 2a.: it's all got a strong class angle.

I'm not going to stop doing any of the above things just because the Guardian are a bunch of sanctimonious dickheads, but I'm pissed the fuck off that they've managed to take something that's been a life long commitment of mine, made decades before this whole business became a trendy "lifestyle" issue with raffia bags and special weekend supplements, and turn it into a rod for my back. Dipshits.
The Lady (Marina)
24 November 2009 @ 23:58
After a trying month with bouts of depression, too much air travel, one loss and the Saga of the Neverending Cold, we are attempting to restore normal service. Feministical blogulation is therefore resumed. Only 2,000 words this time, will write something nice and long when I'm feeling a bit better... *g*

It's Not a Zero Sum Game: Deconstructing Diversity

In which I don't really to proper deconstructionist deconstruction. I just can't resist alliteration; it's a mental tick. It's more about working to create inclusive and diverse communities online and off, specifically in the context of Atheist D00ds and how crassly chauvinistic that bit of the blogosphere can be.
The Lady (Marina)
20 November 2009 @ 05:37
I'm home, it isn't.

Please to be leaving phone numbers in screened comments or I shall cry and think you don't want to be friends with me naw moaw.
The Lady (Marina)
I've lodged a complaint with the PCC tonight, and it wasn't about Stephen Gately.

I'm really hoping that at least one or two of you can be persuaded to follow suit. Feel free to copy and paste the text from my blog (where the complaint is reproduced in full) for your own message - I won't charge royalties.

The heart of the matter is as follows:

On today's Guardian Science Weekly podcast (around minute 30), the presenters read out loud a number of comments that were left by listeners on the web page after last week's podcast.

As part of the podcast concerned the topic of "penisology", a predictable number of the comments had a bawdy tone. Two of the ones read out were directed at last week's presenter of the podcast, Nell Boase.

The first referred to her "giggle" adding "much needed sex appeal" to the podcast, and invited her to look the poster up if she were ever in Vancouver. The second commenter agreed, and added that Ms Boase would make a wonderful "romance novel narrator".

I'm actually really shocked that the Guardian would throw its own journalists under the misogynist bus like this, or that any serious journalist in this day and age could still think that this shit is "funny". If I could develop a Twitter following fast enough, I'd be opening an account tonight to tweet about it, with the hashtag #sexistfail or something.

Oh and also, go and read my blog already and give me comment love, or I'll start posting my feminist screeds on LJ again. Don't think I won't do it!
The Lady (Marina)
New blog post up on my shiny shiny new blog, taking apart the silly obsessing about Hilary Clinton's so-called "bad hair day", the ugly attacks on Harriet Harman and her anti-violence initiative, and the connection between empathy and othering. It's really really good, promise!
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The Lady (Marina)
14 August 2009 @ 18:02
Crossposted from my lovely new blog.

(Via Jezebel)

An upmarket hotel in the US is accusing a woman who was raped at gun point in its parking lot of having "failed to exercise due care for her own safety and the safety of her children".

The rapist attacked the woman from behind while she was strapping her two small children into their car seats. He forced her to undress and raped her on the back seat in front of the children. He pointed his gun at the children and threatened to sexually assault one of them.

The rapist was apprehended, tried, and sent to prison for 20 years. Neither judicially nor morally is there any doubt who is 100% responsible for this inhuman violation of another human being's dignity and personhood.

We talk a lot about victim blaming and how prevalent it is in our society, and it's often difficult to explain to people who are blinded by patriarchal assumptions about gender what "victim blaming" actually is, or how, e.g., asking questions like "why did she take him back?" or "why was she walking alone at night?" constitutes victim blaming behaviour in the first place.

But this is an absolutely clear cut case. The Marriott here is totally adamant that the rape was the woman's fault, or at least that she bears a lot of the responsibility for it (presumably they're not deluded enough to claim that she raped herself). They are, explicitly and unashamedly, blaming the victim.

They're not saying "young women are more prone to attack, she should have been more careful", because she was 40 when the rape happened.

They're not saying "she shouldn't have been flirting with him", because this was one of those tiny minority of random stranger rapes.

They're not saying "she shouldn't have been alone in a dangerous neighbourhood", because it happened in their own 4-star garage parking lot.

And yet, when she sued them (for an earth shattering $15,000, no less) for failing to provide adequate security on their premises and for ignoring previous reports about the rapist hovering in the area and harassing women, thereby leaving him free to rape, they turned around and quite clearly stated that it's all her fault for not making "proper use of her senses".

How can this be? How can someone even take precautions against a random crime? How do they propose women parking in their garage "mitigate their damages", as they put it?

Well, presumably, by not brazenly existing in the world while in possession of a vagina.

That is what I'd like people to take away from this: every time you think, or hear someone say "you know, women can do a lot to prevent rape by doing/not doing XYZ", think about this woman, whom a major corporation is lambasting as the author of her own misery.

Because saying "don't drink and flirt with men" and "don't wear short skirts" is bullshit. The rules won't protect you. Long skirts won't protect you. Secured parking lots with guards and cameras won't protect you.

Women don't get themselves raped. Men rape them. Anything that says otherwise is victim blaming.