Archive | Uncategorized RSS feed for this section

Sisterhood is global: stop UK corporations profiting from the misery of Saharawi women

13 Aug

I am sad to have deserted this blog in recent months. Lately, all of my writing energy has been expended in my PhD thesis, leaving little left over to dedicate to other projects. Nevertheless, I hope here to combine my PhD research with feminism, albeit feminist nationalism (although I am, for this post, temporarily abandoning my sarcasm).

My PhD focuses on the resistance of Saharawi women (and how feminism can further the mobilisation of mass resistance to dictatorships), who (along with Saharawi men) resist the occupation of their country, Western Sahara, and campaign for independence, at great personal risk.

minurso_map

The official UN map of Western Sahara. Such a map – the officially correct one according to every country apart from Morocco –  is prohibited in Morocco, which is why your Lonely Planet guide shows a different cartographic story. Nevertheless, check your Atlas or globe at home and you should see Western Sahara as above.

Western Sahara

Western Sahara is Africa’s last colony. Since 1975, when the colonial power Spain effectively sold off its former colony to the highest bidder, the majority of the North African territory has been occupied by neighbouring Morocco in flagrant violation of international law. The latter nation claims that before being colonized in the late nineteenth century by the Spanish, Western Sahara was part of a Greater Morocco (which also includes, according to Morocco, parts of Mauretania, Algeria and Mali). Nevertheless, the International Court of Justice has rejected such claims and called for the territory’s decolonization and a self-determination referendum for the people of the territory: the Saharawis. Hundreds of UN Resolutions back this view, and, since 1991, when it brokered a ceasefire between Morocco and the POLISARIO (the Saharawi guerrilla front and now government of the Saharawi state-in-exile) the UN has attempted to oversee a self-determination referendum for the Saharawi people. But Morocco won’t let this referendum take place, and the UN, restrained by Morocco’s powerful allies (US and France), is unwilling to impose sanctions.

The Moroccan-built and Saudi, French and US-funded wall that surrounds the occupied part of Western Sahara. It is the longest active military wall in the world, is manned by around 100,000 soldiers and is heavily fortified by landmines. Nevertheless, many Saharawi activists that fear death and imprisonment have tried to cross it in order to get to the camps. Some have done so successfully. Others have lost limbs and life.

The Moroccan-built and Saudi, French and US-funded wall that surrounds the occupied part of Western Sahara. It is the longest active military wall in the world, is manned by around 100,000 soldiers and is heavily fortified by landmines. Many Saharawi activists that are hunted by Moroccan police have tried to cross this wall in order to get to the camps. Some have done so successfully. Others have lost limbs and life.

Two Saharawi children off to school in the refugee camps of Algeria. These camps face the harshest climate of the entire Sahara desert, with temperatures reaching the highest on record in summer and dropping to freezing in winter.

Two Saharawi children off to school in the refugee camps of Algeria. These camps face the harshest climate of the entire Sahara desert, with temperatures reaching the highest on record for the world in summer and dropping to freezing in winter. Photo from @agailita

While the diplomatic stalemate continues, the Saharawi people suffer. Since escaping the Moroccan bombs of napalm and white phosphorus in 1975, up to 165,000 Saharawi refugees have lived in camps of tents and adobe constructions in the driest corner of the Algerian Sahara. These camps also form the headquarters of the POLISARIO Front, the representatives of the Saharawi people vis-à-vis UN negotiations. Meanwhile, on the other side of a military wall built by Morocco  during its war with the POLISARIO, a Saharawi minority lives amongst Moroccan settlers under a violent occupation. Here, repression of pro-independence Saharawis is brutal. Indeed, Freedom House has listed the territory as amongst “the worst of the worst” in terms of political rights and civil liberties, whilst Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and the UN have all noted the use of sexual violence, torture, beatings and arbitrary imprisonment of those that fight peacefully for Saharawi rights. Nevertheless, every April, thanks to the power of veto wielded by Morocco’s close ally, France, the UN votes against the inclusion of human rights monitoring in the mandate of the UN peacekeeping mission (called MINURSO) stationed in Western Sahara’s capital, El Aaiún. As such, MINURSO is the only peacekeeping mission in the world not to monitor human rights. Its staff are paid to do literally nothing, even when Saharawis are beaten in plain view in the square in front of the UN building. I’m not sure how they sleep at night.

Here is a shot of Saharawi prisoners sleeping inside the so-called "Black Prison" of Western Sahara

Here is a shot of Saharawi prisoners sleeping inside the so-called “Black Prison” of Western Sahara

Saharawi women who you might have read about in the British press

Aminatou

Nobel Peace Prize nominee Aminatou Haidar is the unofficial leader of the Saharawi non-violent resistance movement. She was first disappeared, along with hundreds of other Saharawis, in 1987. She spent four years blindfolded in a cell, subject to the usual kinds of Moroccan torture (these include the release of savage dogs into prisoners’ cells, electrocution, rape – which is used on Saharawi men as well as women – being tied up and suspended from poles for beatings, throwing acid in faces, insertion of bleach-soaked cloths into mouths etc.). She was disappeared for a second time in 2005 for seven months. In 2009 she attracted international media attention when she initiated a hunger strike in Lanzarote airport.

marian hassan

Mariam Hassan was born in Western Sahara, but fled to the refugee camps in Algeria during the Moroccan invasion. She worked there as a nurse before becoming a revolutionary singer. Her latest album, El Aaiun on Fire, is dedicated to the non-violent uprisings of Saharawis in Western Sahara’s capital. Here she is giving grief to the Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs for their complicity in Morocco’s destruction of a 18,000-strong Saharawi protest camp: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JRAVVRViDhg

Aziza Brahim

Aziza is a musician born in the refugee camps of Algeria. She spent most of her formative years in Cuba, after winning a scholarship to study there. Her music lyrics are often inspired by the work of her grandmother, Al Khadra, who is one of the great Saharawi revolutionary poets. Aziza recently appeared on Jools Holland.

Resources

There is one main reason why Morocco continues to occupy Western Sahara: money.

Western Sahara is the biggest source of phosphates (needed in agricultural fertilizers) in the world. It has incredibly rich fisheries, huge greenhouses for fruit and vegetables, is a kite-surfing hotspot for unscrupulous tourists and a source of solar and wind energy (thanks SIEMENS). Of course, it’s illegal for Morocco to be taking advantage of these resources. Doing so constitutes the war crime of plunder. But no one stops it. Corporations and governments that buy these resources are also committing plunder, but they do so anyway. If these governments and corporations stopped buying stolen resources from Morocco, Morocco would be much more likely to negotiate an end to the conflict and the Saharawis’ misery. Nevertheless, it’s almost too late to stop them. In October, even though the UN has expressedly declared this illegal, two foreign oil companies – American Kosmos and UK Cairn – will drill for oil. If they strike lucky, the result will be so unbelievably lucrative for Morocco that it might never give up its occupation.

Saharawis who protest against these corporations and governments are punished violently for doing so. My friend Shaykh has been imprisoned and tortured several times and his sister was beaten in the street for protesting against Kosmos. Sultana Khaya, the founder of a Saharawi NGO for protection of the Sahara’s natural resources, had her eye removed and is currently in a specialist hospital in Barcelona following significant injuries to her stomach inflicted during a torture session. Sidahmed Lemjayed, my organisation’s (Western Sahara Resource Watch) key contact, has been imprisoned for life in relation to his work against the likes of Cairn and Kosmos. Sidi Mohamed Aloat, a disabled headmaster of a special school, was sliced with razor blades whilst protesting in the street against Kosmos.

Western Sahara Resource Watch works with Saharawis like Shaykh, Sultana, Sidahmed and Sidi to fight the corporations that fund the Moroccan occupation. We have had significant successes: over the last decade with regards to oil companies alone, we have forced the divestment of Total, TGS-Nopes, Fugro, Wessex Exploration, Thor offshore, Kerr McGee and Pioneer Natural Resources. With your help, we hope to do the same with Cairn and Kosmos.

Donate?

I have been volunteering with Saharawi solidarity organisations for about seven years now and I am currently Treasurer of Western Sahara Resource Watch. We campaign against organisations that plunder Western Sahara and show complicity in human rights violations against the Saharawi people. Since our work is political, we can’t register as a charity. This severely limits the funding pots that we are eligible to apply for. Hence, public donations are all the more important.

You can donate safely and easily on the Western Sahara Resource Watch webpage and pay through the PayPal mechanism: donate here.

Friends, I appreciate your right to not give money to a cause that may not be your first choice. I understand that you may not be financially able to donate for everyone, or indeed, anyone, who asks, that you may give quietly and anonymously to your own chosen causes, that you may spend a significant amount of your free time working voluntarily for other causes, or indeed that you may find the whole guilt-trip innuendo and self-promotion of this blogpost (and other “please sponsor me” messages from people doing various activities for charities) plain annoying. In any case, thank you for taking the time to read this.

Take action?

Perhaps you might consider boycotting plundered products (in the UK, the Co-op is the only major supermarket chain that now – post a campaign by Western Sahara Campaign UK [WSC] – refuses to sell stolen Saharawi goods. In other supermarkets, look out for tinned fish and tomatoes labelled as “Morocco” – they aren’t Moroccan, they are Saharawi, and WSC is currently working on forcing a change in how these are labelled) or writing to the likes of Cairn Energy and SIEMENS to remind them that plunder is a war crime. You could also raise this issue with your MP, and ask them to consider joining the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Western Sahara. Or find out more about what is happening in Western Sahara, which isn’t as simple as it sounds, as it is hard for journalists (and activists – last time I tried, I was deported within one hour) to enter the territory and therefore it is never in the media. I recommend the documentary “El Problema,” subtitled in English. You can see the trailer here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rVVViujjRaA

Advertisements

#NoMakeUpSelfie

21 Mar

I have today been nominated to upload a #NoMakeUpSelfie to Facebook as part of the latest social media craze.

At first, I was baffled by the campaign, which, according to status updates in my facebook newsfeed, had the aim of “raising awareness of cancer.” I found this confusing because I thought most people were pretty much aware of cancer by now (unless they live in a secluded community in the Brazilian rainforest far from the media and carcinogenic chemicals, I suppose).

Nevertheless, the campaign has evolved into one that aims to raise awareness of the work of breast cancer charities, especially Cancer Research UK, and my generous and fabulous women friends have been donating money when uploading selfies. This is admirable and makes much more sense as a campaign.

I do have some problems with the basis of the campaign though, if not with its aims (*collective groan* – sorry everyone).

The idea of women being sponsored, or sponsoring themselves, to go without make-up raises some interesting issues. Is removing make-up really the sort of grand gesture that is deserving of donations? The ultimate sacrifice for charity? The social media trend suggests that this is so. This in itself points to the fact that the world has not accepted women without make-up.* Indeed, the airbrushed, perfect images of women in the media pressure women to wear make-up, as do the endless advertising campaigns that make women feel ugly without it. Of course, why should women care if they feel “ugly” or “beautiful” according to social conventions of what constitutes attractiveness? We shouldn’t, but most of us do, because society trains us to from childhood.

If the #NoMakeUpSelfie idea was consciously and critically attempting to raise awareness of the patriarchal idea that women must be beautiful, and the capitalist idea that they can only be beautiful if they spend money on cosmetics, then I would applaud it. However, I’m not sure it is doing this consciously. It seems to have been started on the basis that an un-made-up woman is something of an unusual freakshow (unusual because many women have been made to feel unattractive without make-up, which is highlighted by some of the comments by men on my facebook newsfeed, calling women’s fresh-faced selfies “ugly”), something outrageous that is done for charity, like having a bath in baked beans. What is this saying? That women should strive to be more attractive by wearing make-up all the time, only taking it off if it’s for charity?

 On the other hand, many women are reclaiming the #NoMakeUpSelfie campaign. The proliferation of diverse, un-airbrushed, un-cosmetically-enhanced images of women is a positive thing, which many of my women friends have noted in their own facebook statuses accompanied by their selfies. Furthermore, quite a few of my women friends have pointed out that they never wear make-up anyway, which in itself shows that the (sexist) basis of the BareFaced campaign – that it is always a daring feat for women to go without make-up – is flawed.

Here is my #NoMakeUpSelfie, which I post to raise awareness of how patriarchal society tells us that how we look isn’t good enough, and how capitalism cajoles us into spending money on (carcinogenic) cosmetics to make us look more socially acceptable:

Image

And no I’m not dressed yet.

I have chosen to give my donation to Breast Cancer Action, which highlights the very political nature of the disease. I think it’s worth raising awareness of the their work and policies:

  • They lobby for more funding transparency by cancer campaigns that partner with corporations profiting from cancer (by selling products that they know have carcinogenic chemicals, for example, or from creaming huge profits off the medicines they make), such as the Pink Ribbon campaign.
  • They focus on the social disparities amongst mortal victims of cancer. In the US for example, a black woman is 40% more likely to die of breast cancer than a white woman. Cancer is not just about genes, it’s also about social injustice.
  • They highlight the environmental links to breast cancer (did you know that 70% of breast cancer victims have none of the known genetic “risk factors”?) and campaign against the use of carcinogenic chemicals in many of the products that we use everyday (WHICH, IRONICALLY, INCLUDE COSMETICS**
    – in the light of this, going “make-up free” to fight cancer makes much more sense!)
  • They advocate for less toxic and more effective treatment for breast cancer, and for the treatments that are best for the patient rather than those that best match the needs of corporations.
  • They have a strict corporate donations policy (no donations from corporations that profit from cancer) and are therefore in far greater need of donations from members of the public.

*I don’t mean to suggest that all women who wear make-up do so due to societal pressures. There are many reasons why women wear make-up. Some see it as an art form, for example. Others find it creative and fun. I should also note that I deplore the shaming of women who are seen to “wear too much slap.”

**Click here or here for advice on buying make-up and other cosmetics that aren’t going to give you cancer.

Police your body

10 Mar

WOMAN, the year is 1984 and you are the dictator of your body. Keep it under tight surveillance, bending it to the will of culture. You mustn’t forget that society owns your body, but you are responsible for its upkeep.

Why do you sit like that, with your wicked unwieldy flesh spread out all over that chair? Don’t take up so much space: it’s unladylike. Fold your arms in. Cross your legs. Bow your head. That’s better.

Were you born in the West? Capitalism will help you to police your body. Buy make up to veil your face. Pay a diet club to weigh you in each week like cattle at the market. An obliging surgeon will mutilate you into shape for the right price. Contract another woman, preferably a migrant, to rip out your body hair and colour your nails. Buy clothes, lots of clothes. Far away, other women are destroying their bodies with 18/7 shifts to make them for you.

Your body is here for men’s enjoyment. However, don’t forget that there is a fine line between looking enticing and asking to be raped. Impose limits on your body to avoid the latter: curfews, avoidance of intoxication, flirting, wearing short skirts. Keep your demeanour well-policed. If anything happens to you it is your own fault and you will bear the consequences. 

The government owns your womb. Check with the state before using contraception, aborting or attempting reproduction. If you are poor in a Western country, you have no right to children. If you live in a colonised country, your role is a baby-assembly line. The nation needs your offspring to increase the size of its army.

Are you fat or aged? Retire from public life immediately for you are no longer useful. Are you young? Speak only when spoken to and, pray, do not be shrill.

Never forget it: you are the Chief Overseer, not the owner, of your body. 

Sense of entitlement

5 Jan

This is brilliant, and yet horrendous to read

Edinburgh Eye

This post has trigger warnings.

It’s mostly about rape.

View original post 3,051 more words

Re-blog: Cosmo for Latinas: Are You FIESTY, CURVY, and HOT-BLOODED Enough to Try It?

11 Oct

I’m not sure how to re-blog from a site hosted on a platform other than wordpress, so I’m copy-pasted the blog I wrote for Vagenda (http://vagendamag.blogspot.co.uk/2013/09/cosmo-for-latinas-are-you-fiesty-curvy.html):

The quality of my daily internet procrastination time has just been shat on by the discovery of Cosmo Latina, which reaches new pits of unintentional hilarity, extreme patronisation and eye-watering levels of facepalm, even by Cosmo’s scraping-out-the-portaloo-cistern standards. Give it a read and you’ll be wallowing up to your chocho* in racismo and machismo quicker than you can shriek Devious Maids in a Mejicano accent. As one of our Twitter followers put it after coming across an article entitled ‘Find out what makes the hombres tick!’: WTF? Are the people at Old El Paso making magazines now?

Before we start, a note on language: Cosmo Latina (I will call it C-La for short) is written mainly in English but is peppered, at random, with Spanish words. I like to call this strange-speak Cospañol. I will use Cospañol throughout this article so that you too can experience its full horror without having to go near C-La yourself.

Image

First stop: I salsaed over to the beauty section, or “bronze belleza”, as C-La likes to call it. The first feature, “Four Ways Your Phone is Ruining Your Skin,” is accompanied with a photograph of a woman gleefully toothbrushing her own face with what looks like bubblebath. Presumably (although it’s not explained anywhere in the text, so perhaps it’s just another odd variation on the weird and baffling world of Cosmo sex tips), this is a suggested method for ridding your face of the adverse effects of using a phone, which, according to C-La, include “early wrinkles”, “crows feet”, “dark spots”, “acne” in the “phone zone” of your face (that’s the danger area from “your temple to your chin,” apparently) and – new portmanteau of the year… wait for it – “Text Neck.” Are you actually fucking joking me, C-La? Text Neck???

“Admit it, whether you’re walking, sitting, or laying down you’re usually staring down at your phone. According to cosmetic dermatologist Dr. Paul Jarrod Frank, constantly looking down causes the collagen in your neck to break down, leaving that turkey-looking neck.”

No Cosmo Latina (I’m calling you by your full name because you’ve been very naughty), funnily enough I don’t need to admit that the majority of my life is spent “staring down at my phone” because my default position is slouching my shoulders and either smiling or frowning, depending on whether or not I’m having a Latina-style feisty day. When I lay down, it tends to be with the intention of inducing sleep, and if I’m staring down whilst walking, that’s usually to avoid stepping in a turd. As for “that turkey-looking neck,” could your drop the knowing “that” please? In fact could you drop the whole paranoia-enducing, shaming reference to women’s bodies looking like turkeys? And maybe tell your “Cosmetic Dermatologist” (aka professional face-butcher who likes to wield his little body-hate knife around the necks of victims of The Patriarchy) to crawl back into the misogynist arsehole from whence he came? Cheers.

Let’s turn to the highlights of the gossip column, ingeniously entitled “Qué está pasando?” or, for the non-Cospañol speakers, “What is Happening?” First up: congratulations are in order for Victoria’s Secret model Adriana Lima, who managed to, in C-La’s soothsaying words, “save herself,” until marriage. ¡Ole Adriana! ¡A tequila for you! Says C-La, “We really respect that a hot woman like that can ward off all the sucio men out there to wait for Mr. Right.” I don’t know what to do first: wipe off the vomit that I’ve just projected over all the slut-shaming that’s inhabiting my screen as I read this article, or ask, would C-La consider it less of an achievement for a non-“hot” woman to maintain her “purity”? There are so many issues with this quote that I’m going to stop analysing it and instead perform the headdesk move of desperation.

In other news, in stories so boring that I actually cried a bit, Paulina Rubio “makes fun of Simon Cowell’s Moobs,” and Shakira wins a price for sexiest curves, but doesn’t attend “probs because she was spending time with her beauty baby Milan.” Her beauty baby. Moobs. And, just so you know, C-Latina women are “fun and feisty” females, rather than their “fun and fearless” regular (implicitly non-latina) Cosmo counterparts, cos latinas are more quick-tempered and irrational than white Cosmo readers, obv.

Adios to the gossip section.

Despite the repeated assertion throughout the magazine that all Latina women are curvy (actual quotes: “you don’t want to be skinny”, “in Colombia everybody’s very voluptuous, and you’re supposed to be”), the section dubiously dubbed “Fashion” seems to be devoted to ways to cover up your curvas, including top ten dresses for disguising your implicitly unsightly “panchito”*, and ways to get around the – quote – “tough” feat of looking nice if you “have junk in the trunk” (that’s “a large bottom” in normal speak). Are you comfortable in your body? Do you like the way it looks in clothes? Well you shouldn’t. Move over, gordita*.

The next fashion feature is on dressing for the office. This can’t go too wrong, right? Wrong. The article begins with the tale of a banker who was sacked for being “too sexy” after having been forbidden by her employers (Citibank) from wearing turtlenecks, pencil skirts, heels, or fitted suits, as her colleagues, reportedly, could not concentrate on their work. I expected the article to continue in an outraged fashion calling out sexism and discrimination in the workplace, providing useful advice on how to deal with such issues and information on legal rights (OK, I didn’t. But if the context had been anything other than a Cosmo magazine, I would have) but sadly, C-La decides to side with Citibank on this one, and decides to offer some tips for other women “with curves” who work in offices and don’t want to be sacked because their colleagues are pervertidos:

“you want to blend in”

“If you have to, go up a size” with the sympathetic caveat “we know how daunting it can be to have to go up a size–especially if you’re already feeling some sort of way about the size you typically wear”

“When it comes to pants, a wider leg can be more flattering particularly for those of us with lovely lady lumps. Save anything remotely tight for after 5 drinks or on the weekend.”

“in the case of hemlines, always err on having the hem as close to the knee (or longer) as possible.”

“Under no circumstances should there be any cleavage in a conservative work environment.”

C-La, this victim-blaming path you are going down is a dark, dangerous and turd-ridden one. Tears are falling on my un-moisturised hands as I write. I’m crying because this article was written IN 2013. IN A WOMEN’S MAGAZINE. FOR WOMEN. NOT FOR SELF-JUSTIFYING OFFICE PERVERTS. And C-La, for the record, I have what you would probably call curvy boobs and bum, and actually the “some sort of way” I feel about my body is that I like it. That’s despite all your hard work to make me hate it. Soz.

Over to the “Love and Sex” section. (Corgasmo! See what I did there?!) As hard as it was to resist headlines such as “The Best Position for his Sign”, “Should You Break Up if your Suegra* is a Bitch?” and “The Absolute Best Ugly Cries in History” (complete with a devastated Britney Spears looking “ugly” whilst sobbing her heart out), it was the How to Seduce Men feature that drew me in. Having a Latino partner myself, I thought I could do with a few tips on how to keep him interested:

“Style in stilettos: High heels always rate number one on men’s fave accessory—and this is a look we Latinas can pull off while running to the grocery store. Forgo comfy flats and trainers, as every Latina worth her salt should have one pair of killer take-this tacones ready to go. These fun multi-colored snakeskin pair from Carlos Santana are super fun and boner producing ($78.99, carlosshoes.com).”

Funny that: I never knew that (Carlos Santana-designed?) stilettos were the keystone of Latina identity (wait, what’s that faint rumbling? Ah, sorry – just Frida Kahlo turning in her grave). Anyway, when I’m getting ready to go to the supermarket I often stop to ponder what the best footwear option would be. But, like a true Cosmo girl, my choice always comes down to that one crucial factor: no, not comfort, not that. When going to the supermarket, I always ensure that my shoes are “boner producing.” Cos what every real (latina) lady wants is a man getting una ereción whilst perving on her in the meat aisle.

“Whisper papi in his ear: The next time your man is lost in his computer, sidle up behind him and softly ask, “You seem stressed, can I help you with anything, papi?” Ears are super erogenous zones, so his motor will be running. Plus, hearing such a familiar term delivered in a naughty way is total turn on.”

Despite my better judgement, I decided to road test this one. Turns out that light references to incest whilst playing internet chess is not a turn on for my hombre (if it is for you and your partner, then great, I just wish Cosmo would include a tip based on ask your partner what s/he likes amongst their monthly smorgasbord of sexy advice, and that they wouldn’t depict their advice as guaranteed to work. Not everyone likes the same thing, and by implying that they do, Cosmo also implies that you are a sexual failure if their “fullproof” tips don’t work for you).

“Show some skin: Gorgeous Cubana Eva Mendes, who’s dating Hollywood’s hottest actor, Ryan Gosling, shows off her tanned glowing cuerpo every chance she gets, saying, “I’m not at all ashamed or frightened about showing my body.” Choose a strapless dress, one-shouldered number, sexy shorts, or rock a mini to drive him wild.”

I’ve been trying to digest this one. I keep on trying, but it won’t go down. It just keeps coming back up soaked in the bile of hypocrisy. Perhaps if we hadn’t been exposed to women’s mags, with their monthly doses of body dismorphia-enducing weight-loss tips, air-brushed, white-washed models, cosmetic surgery adverts, and tips on how to look better, dress better, be less fat, be more man-pleasing and be less everything-that-we-are-naturally, many women would be less ashamed of their bodies.

After returning from the kitchen where I stood next to the open fridge door for 5 minutes until the burning anger in my head had calmed down, I attempted to lighten things up by reading the sex horoscope. Mine says:

“Nothing like a little danger to heighten your senses, which is why you’ll want to hit up seedier pursuits to find your orgasm now. Yes, toys, swinger parties and porn will be all ways to explore your sexuality, as it’ll be the great unknown that you’ll want to come for.

Single: Straight-up and pure lust is addicting now. Let it be a habit you want more of.

Hooked-up: If your man gets too pushy, push back even harder. Tension is your aphrodisiac now.”

That last bit. I can’t… I just can’t… It’s too much. All I’ll say is that men pushing their partners to do things that they don’t want to (including things they perceive as dangerous, swinger parties or “seedier pursuits,” whatever that’s supposed to mean) = good reason to end your relationship/massive consent fail/possible sexual assault rather than a reason to “play your aphrodisiac card and withhold sex”

Next up: The Best Places to Have Public Sex without Getting Caught (Note to C-La: “public sex” (dogging?) has a rather different connotation to “sex in public places,” (not necessarily dogging?) but anyway…)

“At the park: The park is common place—it’s as sexy as doing it in the wild but eliminates the risk of getting bitten in the a** by something weird. Just make sure the timing is right. Go into the gazebo or a shady area by a tree that’s blocked off from street view. The last thing you want is a little kid to catch you mid-act.”

Getting bitten in the ass by something weird… you’ve underestimated my partner C-La. I’m baffled by the almost philosophical-sounding observation that “the park is a common place,” (is that a Yoda quote?) and what is meant by “the wild”? If they mean the countryside, then their readers should beware angry farmers in lambing season. The thought of sex in my local park “in a shady area by a tree” just makes me sad and brings to mind teenagers and supermarket own-brand cider. Surely this is not spicy, sassy and caliente enough for sexy latinas? On the other hand, I’m pleased C-La reminded its audience that sex in front of child strangers is not advisable.

“in a utility closet: people almost never go in those old utility closets. We believe they were strictly put there for people to um, bone. Just be careful for all the dust mites that are probably floating around in there. You’ll want to make this one a quickie.”

Actually C-La, I think utility closets were strictly put there for cleaners (you know, those people who do one of the most socially useful jobs but get paid a poverty wage, who you might have seen cleaning up your mess when you stayed late at the office that time?) to store their cleaning stuff. Just sayin’.

Sorry, but I’ve had to skip the rest of the content, which, besides from the sexism and racismo (check out the they must be joking …oh god… they’re not joking are they, could-they-be-more-racially-stereotyped recipes sponsored by Unilever, the wonderful makers of Fair and Lovely skin lightening cream: two types of enchiladas, two varieties of salsa, Mexicano casserole and … get ready for it… TEQUILA salmon) has the charisma-black-hole effect most often associated with the character of Sergeant Brody’s wife in Homeland. Besides, I need to go and get my bikini line brasileñoed before my macho gets home.

C-La seems no different to standard Cosmo: it’s the same old heterosexist rag convincing women of all their flaws and providing them with the (pricey) “solutions,” but with added use of racist clichés of the sexy, sensual, curvy Latina, who is a slave to her “fierce”, uncontrollable temper. Why does Cosmo feel it has the right to assign these traits to an entire group of women? Why does Cosmo assume that Latina is a homogenous group? Why did Hearst (the owners of Cosmo) decide to create this spin-off targeting a specific ethnic group? Did they feel bad that their standard mag is generally white-washed? If so, would it have been preferable to have tried to address the racism and white-centrism within the initial magazine instead of creating a patronising offshoot? Who knows. At the end of the day, this new magazine is just another attempt by Hearst to sell shit to what they see as an emerging and lucrative market.

Oh well. Back it is to regular Cosmo, welcoming me with open arms and 16 “ovary-tickling” pictures of “DILFS and their cute babies”. Fuck it. I’m suffering from overexposure to racist exoticism and The Patriarchy. If anyone needs me, I’ll be in the recovery position in my clamshell.

Image

* vagina
* belly
* fatty
*mother-in-law

For more delicious cosmocking try the dedicated thread on the Pervocracy blog

50 Shades of Pink Laptops

7 Apr

Image

Perhaps you have the raw talent to pen a literary masterpiece, much like the one above by yours truly. Perhaps, though, you lack the technical know-how to be able to type up your creations on a standard computer. If this is you, worry not sister, as Fujitsu, Delle and Eurostar have created tablets, e-pads and laptops that are simple enough for even a woman to get the hang of.

First of all, lets check out Eurostar’s E-pad Femme. It may sound like a make of sanitary towel, but in fact it is every woman’s dream. It comes with a whole range of woman-friendly apps pre-downloaded (so that you don’t need to get in a tizzy when you can’t manage to procure them yourself): a tape-measure app, to make sure you aren’t getting too chubby, a cooking app, so you can make your husband a delicious dinner every night and a “woman’s assistant” app, which provides you with weight-loss tips (if you didn’t know it already, YOU’RE FAT). Likewise, technology giant Delle’s for her Della (see what they did there?) website offers tips on calorie counting and cooking.

Image

E-pad Femme

Although the E-pad Femme comes in a pretty shade of pink, it may not be glamorous enough for every woman. Ladies with a taste for all things diamante may prefer Fujitsu’s latest model. Since females are attracted to shiny things (men, take note and get some pejazzle sorted), Fujitsu has come up with the sinister-sounding Floral Kiss computer, which features bejewelled keys, a power button with a “pearl-like accent,” gold-trimmed casing and “a flip latch that can easily open the display—even by users with long fingernails.Charmed, I’m sure. I have made a note in my Ladydate Diary to buy a Floral Kiss (and hope against hope that no one ever performs one on me). I will then be able to finish my erotic parody 50 Shades of Pink safe in the knowledge that my manicure will not suffer.

Image

Ladydate Diary, complete with gold-grained cover and gilted edges, so you can keep track of all your ladydates to do ladylike things in style.

Supporting the Police with further ridiculous safety tips to help me not get raped

4 Apr

Trigger warning: the following contains photos that may serve as a trigger to victims of sexual violence

It seems that the Police believe that women would not worry about their own safety if the Police did not tell them too. Therefore, in order to reduce rapes, the Police tell us to follow their top safety tips, which apparently will stop rape happening: do not drink; do not walk home alone; do not take minicabs; do not behave in a “seductive” way; do not talk to strangers; do not dress “provocatively,” etcetera etcetera. If you neglect to follow these tips and you are consequently raped, it is your own fault. The rapist has no agency in his actions. Rape is a passive phenomenon that women leave themselves open to if they do not behave in certain modest ways. Men cannot help themselves. Or so imply the Police’s anti-rape campaigns.

Let me add that the Police seem to be unaware that most rapists do not follow the “knife-wielding stranger down the dark alleyway” model (although, truth be told, some do), that most rapists are known to the victim, and that, therefore, the Police’s “tips” are redundant since the only way for a woman to avoid getting raped is to avoid being in the company of rapists, which is, unfortunately, impossible.

Image

Thames Valley police’s trigger-inducing anti-rape poster tells girls not to drink (and parents not to buy their daughter’s drink) less a helpless boy find himself raping them

Image

Sickeningly badly-judged poster from the Met Police. This poster has forced me to begin several a tube-catching day in the most foul of moods.

Image

West Mercia police have now apologised for the above poster, and have admitted that rapists, rather than alcohol, cause rape.

Let’s be clear – all things considered, the Police’s safety-tip-focused, don’t-get-raped campaigns are somewhat misogynist, given their focus on victim-blaming (the non-misogynist alternative would be anti-rape campaigns that encourage men not to rape). In response, the wonderful world of twitter feminists has created a few sublime #safetytipsforladies to complement the Police’s ridiculousness.

 Ladies, to avoid rape, try the following:

–       “Carry a whistle, people may think you are a high school football coach and respect your autonomy”

–       “It’s well known that rapists have evil background music accompaniment, so keep your ears open and listen!”

–       “Avoid places where there are rapists or possible rapists, the moon for example is currently men free”

–       “Fill your vagina with cement and let it dry”

–        “Safe fashion outfits include a Sherman tank, a hollowed-out rhinoceros, and a Wheelie bin with holes cut for your feet”

–       “Skin tantalizes rapists, whether visible or coquettishly covered. Leave your skin at home.”

–        “Don’t be attacked by guys with a promising future. That is the absolute WORST decision you can make.”

–        “Rapists love ponytails. Surround yourself with ponies and the rapists will be too confused to attack”

–       “Always project strong body language. Rapists are put off by women who walk on their hands continuously”

–        “The majority of rapists are known to the victim. Consider not knowing any men.”

–       “It is a fact that rapists target human ladies, so be an animorph. Transform into an eagle at the first sign of danger.”

–       “If you hide your forearms in your sleeves, the rapist will mistake you for a T-Rex and carry on his way”

–       “If you wear a broccoli safety-pinned to your lapel manly carnivorous men will be repelled and won’t rape you”

–        “Always carry a Furby. It’s a proven fact that everyone is afraid Furbies, so when attacked, throw it at the rapist.”

–        “Just accept rape cultures definition of consent. Then you can never be raped.”

–        “Take a course on personal empowerment and then wear a cape to let would-be-rapists know that you are empowered.”

–        “When approached in a bar by a man you don’t know … what were you doing in a bar anyway you slut?”

–       “Stop being a woman in public”

The pathologisation of women’s bodies: make your vagina “nice and tidy”

6 Mar

As thousands of British women are increasingly realising, most vaginas are disgusting in their natural state. If you want to be a proper woman, you had better tidy yours up and make it look as much like Barbie’s as possible: smooth, hairless, flat, and preferably plastic. You see, variations in the appearance of women’s intimate anatomy are not, as you may have previously thought, natural. Rather, they are downright pathological.

Image

As top Labioplaster (that is, plastic surgeon specializing in improving the aesthetics of vaginas by chopping off the labia) Dr Stern explains on his labiaplast site, women with “large and asymmetrical labia” can experience “severe embarrassment” should they ever be able to find a sexual partner. As a few of Dr Stern’s fellow labioplasters have stated (quoted on Jezebel), if you want to avoid your man retching in horror when you remove your knickers, best to make your vagina “nice and tidy” and give it that “petite, athletic” look by having your labia minor (the inner lips) removed entirely. This process is aptly named The Barbie.  Perhaps, when you’ve had your labia chopped off, you could give them to your favourite Ken as a take home gift.

Dr Stern, the Labioplaster, is also a Vaginoplaster. That is, he helps women who have experienced childbirth to make their vaginas “tight” again. Vaginoplasty involves Dr Stern removing the entire vagina mucosa, the soft lining of your vagina, thereby “increasing friction” for your partner, who may otherwise find sex “less satisfying than it once was” before you pushed out all his babies.  You should also try Vaginal Bleaching to make your bits “lighter and whiter”, because white and prepubescent is always best.

Be warned, surgery for your vagina is very expensive and might set you back a good few thousand sterling. Therefore, if you are poor, I suggest you take out a loan. If this is not possible, it is best to switch off the lights if you get with a man and definitely don’t expect him to perform oral sex. That is, of course, unless you have a vagina mint handy, to “flavor your secretions” and make your otherwise horrid juices stomachable for your man.

A proper woman should also do her utmost to avoid the general public having to endure the unsightly curves of her intimate area. Woe betide you if you should ever go out with Camel Toe. If you are unsure what Camel Toe is, check out one of the many British women’s magazines (such as Heat), which helpfully police the phenomenon by ridiculing women in the public eye who suffer from the affliction.

Are you worried that one day you might fall victim to Camel Toe? You should be. According to the makers of SmoothGroove, the shoe horn-like piece of plastic that combats the affliction, “a staggering 55% of women, irrespective of age, size or weight” experience Camel Toe at some point in their lives.” Camel Toe can cause critical levels of “embarrassment.” But SmoothGrove can make women’s lives “just that little bit easier.” As the makers say, the Camel Toe “remedy” allows “all women to get on with their lives without having to worry about how they look.” Well thank God for that. Thank God some one has been worrying about how to empower me as a woman, because all this time I had been preoccupying myself with other matters.

Image

I am grateful to SmoothGroove and the Labioplasters for helping me see the light. Before, I had worried about issues such as sexual violence, losing my job and the illness of loved ones. In more naïve stages of my life, I had felt embarrassed by events such as not realizing I have a snot on my nose, spitting food on people when I attempt (as I regularly do) to eat and talk at the same time, having the train’s digital bathroom door (that I have yet again failed to lock) opened by another passenger whilst I sit helplessly on the toilet seat out of reach of the “close” button, or watching unforeseen sex scenes on the television with relatives. All along, I could have put all my worrying and cringing energies into the aesthetics of my vagina. If only I’d fretted earlier, I could have had the ugly mess sorted by now.

Just so you know, Camel Toe is not yet a medical pathology. Say the makers of Smooth Grove of the Camel Toe terminology, “we’ve searched high and low for a medical term … but there isn’t one.” Watch this space.

Letter to John Pilger from an Assange Hater

22 Feb

Dear John,

I am writing to you as someone who had long admired you, just as I had admired Ken Loach and Noam Chomsky who join you in their unwavering Assange support, in your pursuit for “justice, freedom and truth” against imperialism. As my close friends will know, I had especially admired the three of you (that is, yourself, Loach and Chomsky) for your devotion for the largely forgotten Western Sahara cause. Yet, as Shakespeare said, lilies that fester smell far worse than weeds, and my deep admiration has turned to deeper disappointment.

In your V-Day (the international day of the global campaign to end violence against women) piece in The Guardian, you described Julian Assange’s “allies” as devoted to “an epic struggle for justice, truth and freedom.” Sadly, this piece disappoints me so much that I cannot even find it in myself to respond sarcastically, which is my normal reaction to opinions that displease me. I consider myself as anti-imperialist, pro-transparency and generally devoted to “justice, freedom and truth.” However, within my commitment to “justice, freedom and truth” I tend to include “justice, freedom and truth” for women.

Right now, in the UK and elsewhere in the world, the singular issue where “justice, freedom and truth” is most lacking, in my opinion, for women, is that of rape, or “sexual misconduct”, as you might put it. I find that, in my daily life, I am constantly preoccupied by the threat of rape, of Schrödinger’s Rapist (the stranger, who takes it upon himself to approach me, for example by cat-calling, in public, and who may or may not turn out to be my future rapist), and by the weighty “rape culture” in which a number of my actions may, in future, be considered to be “asking for” my own rape.

You claim that the allegations against Assange of “sexual misconduct” (is that a softer way for you to say “rape”?) are “falsehoods”, and imply that, since the women that accuse him had previously consented to sex with Assange, their accusations of rape are dismissible. As a woman, I find this offensive. The idea that any man with whom I have previously consented to sex can come and hump me at will – with or without a condom and certainly without my express consent – does not sit well with my idea of “justice, freedom and truth.” This idea does, however, sit well with the wider rape culture that permeates our society, in which women are expected to follow rape prevention tips if they wish to avoid being blamed for “causing” sexual assault.

I will fight for Western Sahara’s self-determination to the end, yet I will denounce the hushing-up of claims made by Saharawi women of rape by their compatriots (not that this is any worse than the lack of justice for rape survivors anywhere else, the UK included), just as I support the cause of the Palestinian people whilst simultaneously being disgusted by the placing of women’s rights in second place to those of the Palestinian nation as a whole, (which, to me, implies that the Palestinian nation is only for men). Likewise, I support efforts, such as those of wikileaks, to call out government and corporate corruption, but am equally committed to calling out Julian Assange for his lack of respect for women.

I cannot think of a situation where I would not feel hatred towards a rapist. I hate Assange for disrespecting women’s autonomy over their bodies. Therefore, I am a member of the, what you call in your article, “Julian Assange Hate Cult”. Yet, I am not a US government ally “out to crush someone who has revealed its dirty secrets.” Not everything is black and white, a dichotomy of goodies and badies. You can be an anti-imperialist and a rapist. You can be an investigative, leftie journalist and a misogynist.

Yours sincerely,

Assange Hater.

A History of Middle Britain, by Gove, son of Gollum

31 Dec

The Right Honourable Michael Gove, Secretary of State for Education, aka Gove the Great British, son of Gollum, has planned a new history curriculum for our Key Stage 2 halfling halfwits, or so says the Daily Male. For too long now has Labour’s reign of politically correct terror lived on through our school curriculum and, at last, 2013 will see the elimination of non-whites and women from our history diktat.

The new curriculum will be based on the chronicles of Middle Earth, penned long ago in the glorious Shire by one Dildo Baggins. As is the case with Baggins’ history, Middle Britain’s story will be penned in the Home Counties and will be one of white males who have won great battles against the forces of evil (the French and Germans). Again following Baggins’ lead, in Gove’s history there will be but One Woman to Appease Them All: 60 seconds of Cate Blanchett, aka Queen Elizabeth I, who got our men to trash the smelly orc Spanish once and for all! But all other historical women role models will be sent back to their Hobbit Holes to make good food and tend the hearth for when the warring menfolk return! Hurrah! Hurrah for Gove son of Gollum for making British history proper again and freeing us all from the corrupting influence of political correctness!

Daily Male reports women and non-whites will be removed from the history syllabus in a move against political correctness

Daily Male reports women and non-whites will be removed from the history syllabus in a move against political correctness

If the reported changes to the syllabus are correct, Guardian readers will surely put My Gove on the naughty chair

If the reported changes to the syllabus are correct, Guardian readers will surely put Mr Gove on the naughty chair