Tuesday, March 11, 2014

random logging of stuff

Just trying to collate some links and things to do with my continuing thoughts about the abuse stuff.


British False memory Syndrome
Bob Wolfendale



this man


Sunday, March 02, 2014

On why I still haven't reported the historical sexual abuse

So. I wrote before about how I had been abused by a (now dead) family friend as a child and how I was going to report it to the police because I felt like I have a responsibility to the other women who did report it only to see him cleared of all charges. I want to speak up because if it ss recorded somewhere officially then perhaps it will help somehow in the future, perhaps people will believe those women who came forward.

Trouble is I still haven't made that call. Main reason being, as I said before, that I will have to tell a complete stranger something I was oly recently able to put downon paper and I am worried they won't believe me.

There are so man reasons why I am holding back.

Will people think I am making it up?
Will the fact that I am not a complete wreck mean that people won''t believe me?
Will anything be done?

And now there's an added complication in that I noticed this person has been mentioned in a daily mail report on the recent PIE / civil liberty debacle.  Do the daily mail have a reason to mention his name? Are they aware of his reputation or have they got more dirt to publish? If I 'come out' now am I just going to be viewed as coming out of the woodwork with a made up story for fame or money? 

Could I end up beng targeted by the Daily Mail?

Scary thought.

Reading through all the old reports from the time of the trial I can see statements from victims who almost unanimously were too afraid to tell their parents because they felt they wouldn't be believed, particularly as they were making accusations against a solicitor who was well respected. These women only came forward in later life because they had been encouraged by other people who had. In fact the only reason this solicitor was questioned in the first place was because a mother reported him to the police after he approached her asking to take her daughter out on a trip.  It was after this was reported that people started to come forwards and he faced two different trials as a result.

After he was cleared he spoke up about 'false memory' syndrome and about how those who were accused of sexual crimes should have their identities protected. Interesting, that an abuser would be so keen for false memory syndrome to be exaggerated and that he should wish other abusers to be given anonymity. After all, that would certainly put a stop to other victims feeling brave enough to come forward.

The whole thing stinks.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Short reviews of Oscar nominated films #1

Dallas Buyers Club.

True story with some factual inaccuracies and made-up people.
Matthew McConaughey finally gets a role with some teeth, and dramatic weight-loss which may win him an Oscar. To be honest he would deserve it for the acting rather than the body modification. Jared Leto's character is one of the made-up ones, largely unsympathetic though beautiful to watch; not convinced by the acting though (Leto's). It's a film chock full of unsympathetic characters. Worthy? yes. Entertaining? Not so sure. Interesting? yes.

Jennifer Garner ...  I just can't work her out. Is she a good actress? She is the actress called on when you need a worried face, a really worried face.

Nominations: Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Supporting Actor, Best Original Screenplay, Best Editing, Best Make-up.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

headless women and up-skirt shots

So someone posted a link to a BBC magazine article about 'sexting' on their facebook. Someone who I have argued with before about victim blaming and the way girls are sexualised in our culture. I posted a response on his page which said 

"interesting that there's only one letter to a son which only mentions the need to respect other people right at the end. and.. "I am shocked and saddened by these girls' eagerness to flaunt their adolescent bodies, pouting in front of the camera lens, taunting young boys and even grown men" because men just can't help themselves can they? There's a lot of talk about self-respect and self-esteem going on in these letters but what are these parents actually doing to teach their children what self-esteem is? Writing a letter to them in their teenage years seems a bit like closing the stable door after the horse has bolted. A better message might be to tell people not to pass on private pictures to other people because that's just a bit of a shitty thing to do. Plus - why have the BBC used a picture of three teenage girls shot from groin level with their heads cut off? Don't they realize that this reduces the female form to the status of just a 'thing' and that it does nothing to improve this victim blaming piece of 'journalism'. FFS"

 He hasn't responded ... yet. I expect he will respond by telling me that it's really important to protect our female offspring because of all the nasty men out there and what is wrong with teaching them to be safe anyway. He won't understand the victim blaming that I see in the article, or the need to teach our male off-spring not to behave in a way that is predatory, controlling and abusive; That it is not just a girl's/woman's responsibility to 'be safe'.

He won't understand what I have written on my own Facebook about this either.

"WOW - look at these shit letters telling young women not to taunt men with their bodies. Nothing in there about telling men not to be shits and have some respect for other people's privacy. And why has the BBC used a picture of three teenage girls shot at crotch level and with their heads cut off like they are some kind of disembodied 'thing'. Ridiculous. I have found this shot on thinkstock and it looks like the BBC edited the picture to intentionally cut the girls heads off! "

I noticed that the picture used by the BBC comes from a company called thinkstock so I did some research. 

THIS is the picture the BBC used. 

                               THIS is a picture (Cropped by thinkstock) that they could have used

                                THIS is the original picture that the person at the BBC Cropped.

Possibly they thought the three girls looked too grown up so they just chopped their heads off? However, they have ended up with an up the skirt shot of some headless teenage girls. They could have used alternative cropped picture with the closed legs. Marginally better perhaps but still headless. Still one of those disembodied pictures of the female form that reduces women to just a 'thing'.

Sure ... they wanted to focus on the image of texting, but a quick search of thinkstock shows many more pictures of mobile phones being used (By teenagers) that doesn't involve up-skirt shots of headless women. First they have created a magazine article that puts responsibility on women to text safely and sensibly, rather than encouraging a state of affairs where young men are responsible adults who don't do shitty things like pass around naked pictures of their female friends and girlfriends, then they have illustrated it with a typically sexist and damaging photograph where women are headless and viewed only as a trio of knees and vaginas.

Way to go BBC employee.

Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Turning off Facebook.

I want to give up Facebook. I think. Or maybe it is better to say I think it would be beneficial for me to give up using Facebook. So why don't I just stop using it? Today. Now. There are many reasons I like using it of course, many things I will miss about it.

Photographs... I like posting photos of my life, my son, my dinner. All those annoying things that people dislike about Facebook, I do them all. Yet I have an Instagram account and a Tumblr and various other places I can (and do) post my photographs. Hell, I don't really NEED to post them at all given that if I wanted to share them I could do it by email instead of to the world wide web. Or I could try that radical idea of printing them and putting them into folders and then inviting people round to my house to see them.

Keeping in touch with friends... I have lots of friends who are scattered over the country, the world in some cases. So why don't I write to them or pick up the phone? Facebook makes it easy to maintain friendships where there is distance or where time, work and family commitments mean you can't regularly meet up. On the other hand does my use of Facebook mean that I am less inclined to make and keep arrangements to physically spend time in other people's company?

Stalking people... Facebook allows me to look up people and see what is going on in their world. I don't actually have that many friends on my list (Compared to others) but I can see friends of friends and I can see into the lives of people on the periphery of their lives. I also know everything that my friends are doing so there's no need to talk to them about their lives face-to-face, right?

Communication and calendars... There's no getting away from it, Facebook is a very effective organisational tool and I use it to keep track of events and groups that I plan to attend. I also use it for group chats. However I am guessing that if people really wanted to contact me and keep me in the loop then they would just email or phone me.

Activism... I am a member of several groups including The everyday sexism group and a local feminist group. We may just be keyboard warriors to some but I have had my mind expanded and my eyes opened by some of the articles and discussions posted in these groups. I have even ventured out to attend demos and flash-mobs. So clearly Facebook can enhance a person's life and activism.  However, presumably I could still do these things by attending meetings or looking up information on the rest of the web?

On the other hand there are many reasons why I should stop using it. I spend far too many nights sitting on the sofa with my iPad propped against a cushion refreshing my news feed in the hope that something interesting will happen. I am seeking out enjoyment through an electronic device which renders me prone and immobile and wastes evening after evening when I could be dealing with all the things that make me feel depressed about my life. Like, for example, the seemingly immovable mountain of crap that fills up my house and which acts as a barrier to me ever inviting anyone around - something which just can't go on now I have a small Toddler who is making friends and asking me if they can come to play. And I am serious here... I DO sit for hours on end doing nothing but re-load my news feed as some awful BBC 3 program purrs in the background and then I take it upstairs and I lie in bed refreshing my feed until gone midnight in the hope that something interesting might happen and then when I wake up I grab my phone and refresh my feed just in case I missed something exciting - which I never have. There is nothing exciting about catching up on the witter of my insomniac friends - is there?

Here are some of the reasons why I should be giving up my Facebook...

Gossip... The reality is that in the main all I am doing is hunting for gossip, ear-wigging, snooping and generally expecting some kind of exciting news to appear. Not only that but I have been the subject of gossip as a result of my postings on more than one occasion. Indeed, I have recently had to restrict a large part of my friends list so they can only see part of what I post. Having family on your Facebook can cause discord and upset either as a result of what you post (Misinterpreted or not) or because of what they post (Passive aggressive or not). My marriage just can't stand the strain and having a Facebook account. When you are prone to write honest updates, like I am, it is not beneficial to a good relationship. I would like to know what life is like when people who's opinion I don't much care for are not party to every thing that goes on in my life. If I can't censor myself (believe me I have tried) then I need to deny myself the opportunity.

Mental Health... This is because I do think that broadcasting every little thought and experience means I no longer seek out meaningful conversations and meet-ups with people who are good for my mental health. I also obviously spend far too much time indoors planted on the sofa as described above. No Facebook = more activity = better mental health. Also there is a terrible navel gazing that goes on (At least for me there is) when you are able to compare your Facebook (Or real) life with the lives of everyone on your friends list.

Getting things done... I have a head full of ideas about what I want to do. Do the illustrations for a children's book, create some stud walls so my son can have his own room, declutter my house so my son can have friends round, learn to cook, get my sewing machine down from the roof so that I can make dolls (I have the pattern, I made one by hand - the plan was to make one for all the children I know by Christmas), tend my allotment, do a night class, do more exercise. Instead I sit like a lump and wonder why my house is depressing me so much, why I am so lumpy and how the hell we can ever have other small children to visit. If I wasn't on the Internet then perhaps I could achieve some of this list?

THE PLAN - I really don't think that it is going to be possible for me to just turn off Facebook and stick to it, I think I need a gradual withdrawal not least because I want to extract some of the information my Facebook holds - addresses, dates and so on. I also don't want to make a big dramatic 'I am leaving Facebook' announcement. I will gradually withdraw, start posting my photographs elsewhere and stop checking my phone, or even better stop logging into Facebook at work. Then perhaps a little bit before Christmas I can quietly leave. Do I set myself a time to stay off? A year, a month? As long as humanly possible? Perhaps I am just kidding myself and what I need to do is just turn the bloody thing off right now but I will start by resisting the habitual things like flopping onto the sofa when my son has gone to sleep. Instead I will set myself tasks, the first of which will be to measure the spare room and plan the partition. Then I can set about building my son a room which will force me to declutter and give me some interesting design things to think about and will hopefully lead to him moving into his old room, me having some more interesting things to talk about, better communication with my husband and a return to the old Pre-Facebook me.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Why wearing daisy Dukes should be OK

This American Dad has been getting a great deal of attention after dressing himself in short shorts to teach his teenage daughter a lesson about wearing revealing clothes. He says in his blog 

"I know the world has varying degrees of what is modest and what is not when it comes to clothing.  In our family we have pretty definite modesty guidelines; No mid-drift or low-cut shirts, no short-shorts, short skirts and we even go as far as saying no sleeveless shirts unless playing sports or on the beach. Having raised four daughters and three sons, I’m a bit protective. Some may call me old fashion, but I call it “A Dad who loves his daughters” (and sons too)...I’m a firm believer that the way we dress sends messages about us, and it influences the way we and others act. My teenage daughter day after day continues to wear clothing that I, as her father, feel is inappropriate and immodest. Her mother and I feel the same about the importance of dressing modest."

Isn't it a shame that his attempts to shame and victim blame didn't result in a lesson about respecting women and the amount of shit they have to put up with on a daily basis. For example he could have returned and started a dad campaign highlighting the harassment that women have to put up with just because they want to walk the streets like men do. Isn't it enlightening that all he had to endure, in his short shorts, was people chatting to him and asking if it was ok to take his photo? 

Monday, July 29, 2013

Oliver Eric Rawlings

BBC Radio Two interviewed the Historian Mary Beard today as part of a piece about the abuse women get on Twitter, particularly that received by Caroline Criado-Perez after her successful campaign to keep women on UK banknotes. Mary is no stranger to abuse, notably that which criticises her appearance. As the piece went out a man decided to tweet the following to Mary Beard and Jeremy Vine

His tweet was quickly circulated, retweeted and challenged and because his Facebook profile is open and his Internet trail there for all to see some people commented that if they wanted could pass the tweet onto his mother. Mary Beard responded by saying she would give him a few hours to respond. The every day sexism project responded with a big discussion on their Facebook page, retweeting and challenging him. Shortly after he apologised by posting

His apology seems heartfelt, though possibly also because he is worried about what his parents will say as well as being mindful of the other people who have fallen foul of the media and lost their jobs because of things they have said on twitter.

Some hours later the young man updated his facebook page to say

Which to me makes his heartfelt apology appear to be nothing more than damage limitation. After all, what kind of special stupidity does it take to think that you are championing freedom of speech by calling someone a slut and their vagina disgusting? Explaining it away as being 'taken out of context' is just bizarre. What could he have said with more than 140 characters that would have made it less offensive? Well, we do indeed know what else he would have said as he followed his original Tweet with "I'm not sad twitter is my voice. And I would say it to your face too. Look at my face? What do you think?" [sic]

I would love to see/hear him say it to Mary Beard's face, or to Jeremy Vine's face. Perhaps Jeremy Vine could have him on his show to explain why he wrote what he did. Since this all happened his Facebook has been locked and he's now going under a more simple Oliver Rawlings. Perhaps because he's scared of the attention. Oh the irony.

The sickening thing about this is how easy this kind of abuse seems to slip out of some minds and onto Twitter and how spectacularly it misses the point. The point being that people who have spoken up about misogyny and sexism in recent weeks have been threatened with rape and murder by people who fail to see that by being white and male they have the most privilege of all and should be afraid of neither feminism nor women.

"there is some truth in the view that misogyny rears its repulsive head when women make collective advances, and that, thus, it is more an action of weakness than strength. If there is any comfort in any of this sad, pathetic, and unpleasant male behaviour, it is that more men always abhor it."

Monday, July 22, 2013

Leave kate alone

When I was pregnant I remember having quite a big argument with my husband about why I didn't want him calling his mother the second I knew I was in labour. I didn't want him to call my mother either. I didn't want him to call anyone apart from the midwife. My labour and childbirth was something I wanted to be just for us, private and unfettered by feeling like I was was worrying people. My ideal scenario was to be calling close family from my hospital bed to let them know that our child had been born several hours previously, to have had a few wonderful hours with just us - our new family; to take in the wonder of it all and then let people know. I remember that my husband really couldn't get his head round why I wouldn't want people to know and that our argument was quite heated and tearful. His mother lives abroad and he thought she should know as soon as the first twinges began. I didn't see why since she was going to be flying over on my due date and staying for three weeks anyway, so the chances were that she would be in the country by then. Eventually he understood that the potential lack of privacy was causing me quite a lot of upset and it was better for him to back-off and let me try to have the labour I wanted which was to potter quietly at home and then travel to the hospital when I felt the baby was near.

What actually happened was quite different to what I imagined. His mother flew in and had been in the country for a week before I felt the first twinges. When I went into hospital I found out I was only one cm dilated but they let me stay as it was snowing very heavily. After an uncomfortable night we decided to return home, me complete with urine infectrion and anti-biotics, where the pain continued through another night which I spent either propped up on cushions or jumping off the bed. The next day, severely sleep deprived and unable to work out how far apart my contractions were, we traveled back to the hospital where I was told I was now 2 cm dilated. I was so disappointed. We decided to stay t hospital because the snow was falling thicker. For a whole day and evening I continued to walk through my contractions in a lonely, sterile hospital room at the midwife led unit while my husband fiddled with his iPhone. By this point I am pretty sure that everyone knew I was in labour and while I was worried that they were worried I had other things to focus on like marching round the room in repetitive circles and gripping the sink on the wall so hard that I thought I might break it off. At around 10.30 pm more that 2 days after I first went to the hospital I was rushed up to the consultant led unit and finally given gas an air. I was 6 cm dilated, my waters hadn't broken, my urine infection meant that I was in several different types of pain. When they drained the urine they got half a litre, when they broke my waters they found Meconium. When I got to 10 cm they prepped me for a C-section and gave me an epidural. Our son was born almost 3 days after I first went into hospital and rushed into special care for ten days while I recovered from the episiotomy and pumped my breasts furiously.

So - this is why I find the whole media circus surrounding the birth of Prince William's child so disgusting. The BBC has a man from PaddyPower discussing the odds on the baby name, the man standing outside the hospital just keeps repeating that there is still no news and the radio tells me again and again that the labour is 'progressing normally' because that is the ONLY statement on the labour that has been made today.

Progressing normally can mean that Kate Middleton will give birth to her firstborn child in two days time or in two hours time. For her sake and 'the public's' sake I hope it is two hours. Are the BBC and Sky and all the other news outlets going to stand outside the hospital for two days repeating the same phrases again and again? Sadly the answer is probably yes. I don't give too shits about the whole royal thing, I am neither for or against royalty but I am a woman who had a long and difficult labour and who wanted things to go according to some plan. In hindsight that might seem ridiculous but every first time mother has an idea of what they would like in a perfect world, even those of us who want a hospital birth. I am pretty sure that, princess or no princess, Kate and William didn't want a bank of photographers outside every possible birth location, helicopters flying overhead and minute by minute reportage of every imagined push. It also makes me wonder did anyone at all think to step in during the planning and say 'hang on a minute, isn't this a bit much, shouldn't we step back and think about the woman at the centre of this? By that I mean a BBC producer or a SKY presenter, maybe a female one? Yes of course this is the media I am talking about but if I were that producer or presenter I know damn well I would be voicing my objection and considering the privacy and feelings of this soon to be new mum who is going through one of the most arduous experiences of her life so far. I hope that while they stand there repeating 'and still there is no news on the birth of the royal baby' a little bit of them is crumbling inside.

Thursday, July 04, 2013

Parenting expectations.

Almost two and a half years after giving birth to my son I am still working out how to be a good parent, and more specifically how to deal with social expectations. I read a lot of Alfie Khonish stuff and definitely see myself as an attachment parenting/unconditional parent type, though I have never used a cloth nappy (actually that's not true, I did - once) nor done ECing. I am still breastfeeding, still co-sleeping and have raised my voice only on occasions like when my son tried to open the car door while we were moving. Nor have I raised my hand.

I am having real trouble understanding how to deal with things like park etiquette - those times when someone else thinks my child is behaving badly or for that matter when they think their own child is when really they have done nothing at all.

A couple of weeks ago some bigger children shoved my son, and the bits of wood he was playing with, aside on a climbing frame. naturally my son was upset but I kind of understand that to the larger kids a small pile of wood-chippings is just a small pile of wood-chippings and not the roaring fire my son thought he had constructed and my two and a half year old was just a small uninteresting child in the wrong place. So I gently got my son down from where he was crying distraught bitter tears and encouraged him to pick up all the pieces of wood and try to make a much larger better fire somewhere else. Within seconds he was happy; no need to be angry or upset with the eight year old children who hadn't intentionally upset him. Not much later my son was sitting alone on a smaller platform near the slide once again making wood-chip fires when a child of about 4 came up and started grabbing at them. My son shouted 'no! Mine!' but she continued to grab the wood and drop them through the holes in the platform. I quickly went to my son, grabbed him and said it was all ok and he could come down to play near me. All fine, but at that point the little girl said very loudly "yes, you know it is very rude of you to shout 'no'" and my immediate thought was - actually, no, it's very rude of you to come over and start messing with his game and then expect him not to say anything to you. There was a big difference between the 8 year old children climbing all over the climbing frame and a 4 year old invading my son's space and deliberately messing up his game, then telling him off for objecting. In my opinion.

The last incident was sadder all round. Another girl, again about 4, was continually shouted at by her dad (who was there with his partner and a younger baby) right from the moment they entered the park. 'don't do that', 'stop touching that', 'you're not listening', 'we will all have to go home if you don't behave'. She wasn't even given a second to just BE and it made me very sad. She seemed very interested in the fires that my son was making and gathered up her own chips and started copying what he was doing. As soon as her dad saw her with her handful of chippings he started shouting at her to put them down, don't do that and so on. Inevitably it ended with the poor child being dragged away and accused of ruining everyone else's day because now they would all have to go home.

My tendancy is to just concentrate on watching my own son's behaviour and intervening if I think he is being out of order or if I think others are being out of order to him. I don't want to get into telling off other kids - unless of course they are doing something crazy and out of order - but I don't particularly think that children of my son's age HAVE to put up with children having his stuff without them negotiating an exchange/swap. I read a blog a while ago (Which frustratingly I can't find now) about how this drive to teach kids to share is not always a good thing. The gist being that as grown adults we wouldn't expect to just be able to march over to another person's stuff and take whatever we wanted and then have someone tell the owner of that stuff that they are not good at sharing if they object.

I started writing this blog back in June and have only just got round to finishing. In recent days I have been having a bit of a crisis about my parenting. Firstly because my mum has made a couple of comments about me 'being in charge' (As in I need to be) and I was also accused of being inept and 'wishy washy' on the site known for its nest of vipers. Personally I don't think I am wishy washy - I am definitely up for a bit of restraint, order and discipline - but I think perhaps the fact that I have chosen to listen to and communicate with my son as much as possible may give people the impression that I am. My view is that I am not going to physically hurt my son to make him bend to my will, though I am amazed by the amount of suggestions made about giving him a smack. Yesterday I was in a bit of a parenting funk as my mum's comments about being in charge were later followed with advice on keeping a toy that could strangle him out of reach! I had also had a bit of a nightmare not-getting-in-to-the-car-seat situation which I admit I handled badly but which hasn't happened since.

Are we heading full pelt into the terrible twos I wonder? Am I to be expected to crack down on the restraint just as he is starting to question and resist? Surely if anything this will make the resistance seem worse and make everything all round more difficult for us both. If I can't give my son time to explore and to learn without hitting and smacking then what kind of parent does that make me?

I think I am right about wanting to do things the way I am, I think I just need to be more confident about the choices I am making and be prepared to modify them if needed.

Friday, May 31, 2013

Another Day another Rape apology

This time it's Anne Diamond writing in her Local magazine Berkshire Life where (According to the Daily Mail who is first on the scene with the news) she says

Are we dealing with misjudged slap and tickle with a groupie in a dressing room 30 years ago or a more sinister crime? Are we talking about an annoying penchant for fumbling and groping – almost an accepted form of behaviour in a bygone age – or the cynical sexual exploitation of young girls and boys?' and adds 'And what exactly is a youngster when it comes to showbusiness? I’ve seen many young “ladies” dressed to kill, hovering outside stage doors, keen to force themselves on actors and pop stars.’ 

I am not sure if she is talking about Stuart Hall who admitted 14 assaults, including that of a 9 year old, or maybe she is just casually forgetting his guilt? 

Anne Diamond has a regular show on BBC Radio Berkshire which is billed as 'real lives and compelling stories with a human touch'. Is this the human touch they mean? The one that makes apologies for rapists and blames victims? Perhaps because Anne Diamond has worked with several of the people who have been questioned as a result of operation Yewtree she can't believe that they could do these things. Isn't that the case though with a lot of sexual predators - they hide behind their celebrity or their likableness and no one knows what they are like because being a rapist or an abuser isn't something you boast about.

The BBC is currently in the throes of a respect at work review to tackle bullying in the workplace. They may well be advised to take this further and educate all staff, particularly those who are the mouth pieces of the corporation, about the damage of victim blaming and rape apology. 

I love the BBC, I really do. I would not want to speak badly of the corporation but they should not be letting go these chances to make a real statement about the damage these apologists can do.