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An off-beat political post April 24, 2010

Posted by Fiona in Big things, Durham, Law, University.

Right, well, my political views are my own and yours are yours and there are hundreds of places to discuss them and flaunt them and whatnot all over the place – which is fantastic, but not really what I want to talk about here.

It’s more of an observation, and it goes a bit like this:

I thought young people were supposed to be ambivalent about politics?  I thought there was supposed to be vast amounts of apathy about the place?  Maybe it is the company I keep, but I’ve found apathy is a lot harder to come by than I expected this year.  In our house as far as I can make out there is a Labour, a Lib Dem and a Tory, and one who probably won’t vote.  I think, actually, this is the only person I know who thinks they probably won’t vote.  Everywhere else there is commentary.  There is discussion.  There are Facebook groups.  Even the person who probably won’t vote keeps reminding me to listen to the Vote Now Show.  (If you have access to BBC iPlayer – this means you – seriously, sit down and have a listen.  Steve Punt and Hugh Dennis make me happy generally.)

Another thing I’ve noticed – and this might be because Durham is a Lab/Lib contested seat, and the Lib Dems are doing a lot of canvassing, and home is a Con/Lib contested seat, and the Lib Dems are doing a lot of canvassing – is that student opinion seems to be leaning in the Lib Dem direction a lot more than I expected.  I don’t know what I expected.  More Tories, I suppose.  It makes me laugh a bit, that the last few years the only time Nick Clegg has made it into the spotlight is when people are making jokes that he looks so ordinary that he blends into the background.  Apparently he doesn’t any more.  Impressive.

I notice also that Iceland has been getting its feminist on and banned strip clubs – or rather, it’s banned profiting from the nudity of your employees.  I’m not going to talk about what’s empowering and what’s not, whether it’ll actually work (probably not, right? it’ll just all go underground),  and I shall leave the vast range of double entendres and sandwich jokes up to you (seriously, guys).  What I think is interesting is this:

So how has Iceland managed it? To start with, it has a strong women’s movement and a high number of female politicans. Almost half the parliamentarians are female and it was ranked fourth out of 130 countries on the international gender gap index (behind Norway, Finland and Sweden). All four of these Scandinavian countries have, to some degree, criminalised the purchase of sex (legislation that the UK will adopt on 1 April). “Once you break past the glass ceiling and have more than one third of female politicians,” says Halldórsdóttir, “something changes. Feminist energy seems to permeate everything.”

Firstly, the gender gap difference.  Just to let you know, the UK is fifteenth globally so we’re really not doing that bad.  It’s a really interesting report.  If you’re interested, have a look at the tables and see if you can find Italy.  It is completely inappropriate that I laughed out loud.

Secondly, this is probably closest to what I think about it without your getting me writing another thousand words and spouting glass ceiling clichés at you.

Thirdly, is there anything, anything at all, socially, politically, environmentally, that the Scandinavians haven’t done better than practically anyone else in the world?  All that and Norwegian stranded colourwork.  It makes me sick to my back teeth, it does.  Well done the Scandinavians.

That’s the most you’re getting out of me for a while, I reckon.  My life is essentially summed up by this at the moment:

I’m sure you’re not particuarly interested in either wills or reckless transmission of HIV.  That’s okay, neither am I.  At least it’ll be out of the way, though.  And I have the lovely Ms Christie to keep me company.

I might have an actual finished sock to show you in a day or two.  Just the one, mind.  2.25mm needles hardly qualify for the fast lane, I’m afraid.

P.S. I forgot to say, it’s Knitting Crochet Blog Week 2010 next week, which I’m looking forward to.  So if it seems a bit knit-centric round here for the next week or so, I make no apologies!  Oh, the exciting things…



1. ruethewhirl - April 24, 2010

I have a theory about Norway. I shan’t elaborate here, but I will blog it at some point. If i remember, in a week, when i’ve finished my essays. Prod me if i forget? xx

2. Dickie - April 24, 2010

I thought part of the student stereotype was that they’re overly political and always voted Lib Dems? :-S

3. Jenny - April 24, 2010

Japan’s doing pretty badly too…!

And you’re right – there is a lot less student apathy than, well than I expected at least. Even amongst my not overtly political friends, the back-home lot who actually aren’t all true-blue despite living in houses with swimming pools and gardeners. Although when people talk about student apathy I think it’s because ‘in their day’ students were never in lectures because they were on a march or doing a protest or wearing black in support of this or not eating in support of that and burning bits of their underwear. I think there was a time when students cared *more*, though equally I think it might partly be one of those imaginary times that everyone always reminisces about, but it’s not like we don’t care now.

4. teacherface - April 24, 2010

I think it’s a bit of a myth that the “young” are politically apatheic. Certainly once you hit the age of around 21+, for me at least, politics starts meaning something to people. Those that don’t care are the “very young” and “I don’t give a crap about anything” folk.

Remind me in future not to click on a link once I’ve already typed out my reply. I gone dones lost it the first time :-p

5. michaeleriksson - April 25, 2010

As for Iceland and Scandinavia: I am Swedish, and what I see in Sweden is that society is permeated by gender-feministic propaganda, claims from pseudo-scientific gender-studies are believed despite contrary testimony from real scientists, a surprising number of events are treated under the preconception that men oppress women (without, often even contrary to evidence), extreme double-standards in treatment of men and women are tolerated (to the disadvantage of men), and similar.

This is not something to strive for—it is something to avoid like the plague.

6. annadegenhardt - April 26, 2010

About the strip clubs: I think well done Iceland. Yes, it may mean that some women suffer monetary hardship; that’s a problem.

On the other hand, it is better to outlaw this, and start to turn the tide that declares women’s bodies are a commodity. Because currently they are, far more so than men’s ever were, are now, or ever will be. This is partly down to the huge supply of pornography, and strip clubs are part of that; it’s all part of the sex ‘trade’. Outlawing it (I think it all ought to be outlawed) sends a clear message that women are not to be viewed in this way any more. If people start to think differently about it, it’ll be easier to eventually reach the nirvana that is true equality. (I feel bad now for using religious terms in a comment, but there y’go). Instead of trying to regulate it, and saying “yeah, well, there’s a huge market for it so what can you do?” people ought to be saying “maybe there’s a huge market, but why should women be pigeon-holed into that?” It’s a market that shouldn’t be there. It’s like… I don’t know what it’s like. I was going to use something really…. dramatic and sensationalist, but I worry that might have damaged my argument.

Basically, sex trade in any degree is bad. And ought to be prohibited. Once the message goes out that women’s bodies are not objects and cannot be used in this way, attitudes will start to change. It may take generations, but I’d like to believe that one day my grandsons and granddaughters will be appalled that pornography was once endemic, and no-one batted an eye.

Fiona - April 26, 2010

You’ve never watched porn, have you?

I think outlawing anything of that nature is a curtailment of freedom of speech, I think it’s counterproductive, and I think it’ll lead to a return to the view that naked people = bad (for which read ripe for lawsuit). Especially outside a relationship. And ABSOLUTELY especially when there are more than two of you in a room. I think that sounds like thought police, and over-nannying, and I think it is in practice discriminatory against people with any sort of less-than-entirely-wholesome fetish. And that’s why I would disagree with you almost entirely and very vehemently. The principle’s nice. But that is entirely the wrong way to go about changing things.

luciainfurs - April 26, 2010

Is Lost Girls part of this eavol strain of pornography? It’s as much a piece of art or literature as it is porn, and it doesn’t crouch behind “Erotic Reading”, it’s proud to be porn.

I suppose it just annoys me that pornography is seen as automatically bad for women. It *can* be, yes. But anything can be; from fashion to folk music to fairy tales – these could all reflect or project horrible images and ideas of women. In fact, I’m sure they all have at some point. But because these things are openly celebrated and enjoyed by our culture, they’re allowed to evolve with it as we progress into gender equality in a way that most erotic art forms are simply are not able to.

I just don’t see why if something is done well, it can’t be openly enjoyed. Once porn stops being some kind of dark secret people can finally put some real care and attention into it, and things can only get sweeter from there.

michaeleriksson - April 27, 2010

I think “Shame on you, Iceland!”: This is more than an issue of monetary hardship—it is an issue of human rights and freedoms. Notably, the kind of attitude and politics that is displayed by this law (at least based on what information is presented here) has the potential to do far more harm than good to society.

Looking specifically at some of the things you say (similar statements apply to most of them):

“start to turn the tide that declares women’s bodies are a commodity”: This is a phantasy that exist in the minds of gender-theorist and is not reflected by reality—and certainly not by how men think.

“If people start to think differently about it, it’ll be easier to eventually reach the nirvana that is true equality.”: Nirvana and “true equality” have nothing to do with each other, and even a use as metaphor is stretch to the point of being nonsensical. Notably, you seem to labour under the impression that there is currently a net non-equality to the disadvantage of women, while, on the balance, the opposite is true in an increasing number of western countries (including Sweden and, in my impression, Iceland). Your apparent belief that porn, strip clubs, and the like have anything to do with equality is another basic feminist error.

“It may take generations, but I’d like to believe that one day my grandsons and granddaughters will be appalled that pornography was once endemic, and no-one batted an eye”: Apart from there being many people who do far more than bat an eye (notably gender-feminists and religious conservatives), this statement implies that pornography is something bad. The opposite is the case: Studies show that pornography leads to less sex-related crimes, it can help re-kindle a couple’s diminishing sex drives, it de-mystifies and de-tabutizes (?) sex, it can help those who do not currently wish to have a partner get more enjoyment from sex, etc. Notably, it also helps men to become independent from women with regard to sex. (Incidentally, I suspect that the true reason why some groups of women oppose porn, prostitution, etc. is that these help break a “sex monopoly” that women to some degree used to have. Women offering sex relateds services are, in a manner of speaking, the non-union workers and strikebreakers of the world of sex—and are met with the same condemnation by the strict unionists.)

Generally, your post is filled with “This-and-that is bad!” statements, but you fail to in anyway explain why they would be bad. I could equally well say “The Atlantic is bad! We must drain it!”: The next time around, give at least some basic actual arguments.

Dickie - April 27, 2010

“This is a phantasy that exist in the minds of gender-theorist and is not reflected by reality—and certainly not by how men think.”

When a court finds a man not guilty of raping a woman despite her not having given consent, I think there most definitely *is* a problem

When adverts like this are on TV, I’d suggest there is a problem.

When magazines like this are on sale in supermarkets, and not covered up in any way…


michaeleriksson - April 29, 2010

Having reviewed you three links:

1. Shows a man not being found guilty for the very simple reason that no sufficient proof of guilt were presented. He claims the act was consensual and per the most fundamental principle of the justice system, without which justice would be a travesty, it was up to the alleged victim (respectively the prosecution) to prove his guilt. This guilt was not proven. This is not a problem; this how it should and must be in a civilized nation.

2. Does not play in my browser.

3. The image is perfectly harmless. Even the cover of many “romance novels” (aka “porn for women”) are far more explicit.

The above aside: Three cherry-picked examples of no true relevance do not justify the claim that women’s bodies would commodities—that is nothing but cheap rhetoric.

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