No, your granddad wouldn’t want you to be fighting for Britain First.

As mentioned in my most recent Facebook post, (Ahem – ‘like’ me), today’s blog post has somewhat meandered off of the path of gender equality. Instead, I’ve chosen to write about ‘Britain First’, a far-right nationalist splinter party of the equally far right BNP. I think that it’s important for groups like Britain First and the problems that they pose to be addressed, particularly by Feminists, because although Feminism may theoretically just be the advocation of equal rights regarding gender, it should always in practice be advocation of equal rights for everybody.

Britain First negate these equal rights through their Islamophobic attitudes and proposed policies. Britain First also attempt to hide this desired inequality with the excuse of ‘patriotism’, with – amongst their pictures of supposedly dangerous women in burkas – ‘click bait’ pictures which urge Facebook users to show their support for British troops by ‘liking’ Britain First. They post numerous pictures of poppies, current and ex troops, and all things war-nostalgic, in order to incite in people well-meaning patriotism, which they then exploit through convincing people that a pound for them is a pound for British soldiers, (a quick heads up: when Britain First uses the image of the poppy, it does so without the authorisation of the Royal British Legion – this injustice is becoming particularly more irritating the closer and closer it gets to remembrance day). This of course means that anybody who opposes Britain First is consequently seen as being ‘against the soldiers’, and receives the usual host of “you’re a traitor to this country!” responses. The most poignant of these type of accusations, however, is the frequently used ‘Our grandads didn’t fight for this’. The irony, at least regarding the brave service of soldiers in the face of German fascism from 1939-1945, is that our grandad’s really didn’t fight for this – they didn’t fight for the ignorance and hate that categorises parties like Britain First. They fought against it. Bearing that in mind, the following points aim to exemplify the way in which these parties – Britain First, BNP, Ukip – are all doomed to just repeat history if given enough support.

  • Throughout Hitler’s ‘Mein Kampf’, the future dictator frequently impressed upon his readers his anti-Communist views. He sought the ‘destruction of Marxism in all shapes and forms’, saw Marxism as part of a Jewish agenda that aimed to subjugate the world, (‘succumb to Bolshevik storm troops in the service of Jewish international finance’), and accused Germany of becoming ‘Bolshevised’, (does that conjure up in anyone else that dreaded term ‘islamification’?). Hitler despised Communists so much that even before the Nazis had implemented racially discriminatory policies, he pressured President Hindenburg into implementing the Reichstag Fire Decree in, which saw the arrest of 4000 German Communist party members, and forced the remainder of the movement underground. What’s more, the accused were not granted basic human rights, and could be detained indefinitely without a trial. And this ideology is something our dear Mr Golding also embraces. With an anti-Communist zeal that could rival McCarthy, Britain First’s Facebook page is often quick to brand any ‘non-patriots’ Communist. The most recent victim of this tarring is – wait for it – the Royal Mail, for refusing to deliver a bunch of leaflets used by Britain First to monopolise on the child exploitation scandal in Rotherham. However frequent victim of this odd “they don’t like us, they must be Communist” branding, ‘Red’ Ed Miliband, leader of the labour party. Seemingly the only reasoning behind this claim is the Marxist ideology of his father, though oddly Mr Golding’s Communist grandfather doesn’t have the same effect on his reputation. This anti-Communism of course comes accompanied with the constant screeches of ‘Looney Lefty’, (wear the title with pride, ladies and gents), following anybody’s disagreement with their policies.
  • Joseph Goebbels, anyone? He was the minister of propaganda in Nazi Germany, and propaganda was vitally important in convincing the German people that Hitler’s anti-Semitic attitudes and policies were justified; in Mein Kampf Hitler said ‘the chief function of propaganda is to convince the masses’. The comparisons that can be made between the visual propaganda used by the Nazi Party and Britain First are vast, and can be explored fully on the Facebook page ‘Exposing Britain First’, but it’s also important to consider the censorship also involved in Germany’s propaganda machine. There were heavy penalties enforced on anyone who voiced disagreement with Nazi policies, designed to discourage public divergence and stop any information that potentially ‘showed up’ the Nazis from coming to life. And yet again, those dear comrades at Britain First have emulated this “I am right and must silent anybody who doesn’t think so.” In their own party policies. Despite Mr Golding’s claims this year that Britain First have ‘no control whatsoever’ regarding who posts on their Facebook page, there are huge masses of individuals who testify to having had comments critical of Britain First deleted, and having the ability to comment on Britain First revoked. I myself have experienced this having reminded Britain First, (following their potentially millionth attempt to politically monopolise on the tragedy of Lee Rigby), that Mr Rigby’s mother has in fact in the past spoken out about her son wouldn’t agree with the opinions and agenda of Britain First, and that the Rigby family do not wish to be affiliated with the far-right hate group.

    The thread deleted by Britain First on their Facebook page - I was subsequently disallowed from commenting on the page.

    The thread deleted by Britain First on their Facebook page – I was subsequently disallowed from commenting on the page.

  • Britain First Christians were a splinter group of Britain First, (quite odd in itself given that the Britain First page markets itself as Christian also – are these extra, extra Christian?). Like many not-so-great Christian organisations of the past, the group on numerous occasions attempted to justify their bigoted attitudes through their religion, with their ‘about’ up until their termination earlier this year, (though its widely believed that the leaders behind Britain First Christians now reside within the campaigners of their mother group), reading ‘a home on Facebook for Christian patriots who love Britain and work towards restoring Britain as a Christian country!’.  Now, the poor dears managing the group obviously experienced a little confusion with this claim that Britain is no longer a ‘Christian country’, given that over half of the population are Christian, (69%), and the second largest religion – Islam – not even coming close to this, (4.8%), but that doesn’t stop people buying into what they say. It doesn’t stop real, well-intentioned Christians from falling for the idea that being a ‘Christian patriot’ equates to being racist, islamophobic, and generally ignorant, and that they’re doing a disservice to their religion if they – you know, be a decent, non-judgemental, human being. You hardly have to work hard to see the similarities between the manipulation of religion employed by Britain First and the Nazi party, particularly given the pick-and-mixing of passages that suit their agenda. One memorable example that springs to mind from Britain First is the constant, inconceivably childish insistence on publishing pictures of ‘full English’ breakfasts – complete with bacon. Predictably, the comments that follow the posting of these images range from ‘eating one of these should be part of the citizen test’, (because apparently we have no vegetarians in Britain), to ‘A good CHRISTIAN breakfast !!!! Muslims should be forced to eat this!’, etc. All the while, Britain First fail to realise that the consuming of pork is prohibited in Leviticus.
  • And finally, for the last piece of evidence that soldiers who fought bravely against the oppression of a fascist dictatorship  will have done so in vain if Britain First continue to be supported? The comments made on Britain First posts by supporters. A selection of these are shown below courtesy of Exposing Britain First , and if they’re really not enough to set your blood boiling, then you’re right, Britain First – with its awful lack of compassion, empathy, and lack of love for the human race – is definitely the right organisation for you.

    Just a few examples of the countless comments made like this by B.F supporters.

    Just a few examples of the countless comments made like this by B.F supporters.

Why I’m dreading the return to college.

 On Monday the 8th of September I return to college, (sort of, excluding odd days here and there), for the first time since leaving in June, to commence my second year of studying. And I’m excited about this; I’m looking forward to beginning a new term, obsessively sniffing that new-leather smell of my recently purchased academic planner, getting back in touch with my lovely group of friends, and generally settling back into the cycle of education.

But I’m also, for one reason in particular, really not looking forward to returning to college, and it has nothing to do with the nocturnal sleeping pattern I appeared to have acquired over this summer, or the fact that – having eaten my entire weight (doubled) in various takeaways throughout the past six weeks – I’ve managed to go up a dress size.

What I’m not looking forward to at college is the inevitable discussion that will arise between my peers about the recently leaked photographs of numerous female celebrities. Jennifer Lawrence is the celebrity that the media seems to have latched onto, but a whole host of other women have also had their intimate photos, (illegally, given the way in which they were acquired), posted online. Of course, this has predictably led to a massive amount of reactions from each and every individual with a social media account, all of which will unavoidably be irrelevantly brought up in lesson. They range from:

  1. The typical ‘banter lad’ response, “She’s so fitttttt. I’d do her.”, which later evolves into, “God, she should view it as a compliment!”, when reminded that none of the victims of this crime actually asked for his opinion. This response is inspired by the same sort of mindset of those that originally posted the images – the self-entitled, ‘women have no right to say no to me and I can do whatever I want to them’, Elliot Rogers mindset.
  2. The ‘confused body positivity’ response, “There’s nothing wrong with the naked body; we’re all such prudes these days, and they’re all such beautiful girls!”, which though potentially having their hearts in the right place, spectacularly fail to miss the point – consent.
  3. And on the opposite end of the spectrum to the latter, the ‘she doesn’t deserve a sex life’ response, “What did she expect?!?!!!????!!! DON’T WANT THEM UP, DON’T TAKE THEM LOVE!”, the same sort of response that saw a magazine designed for ‘tween’ females deciding that Ariana Grande could no longer be a ‘good girl’ because of the leaked photos. (Because as we all know, any girl who’s ever been caught in a compromising position is clearly a she-devil devoid of all morals.)
  4. The ‘rational, sympathetic human being’ response: “What an awful thing to occur. These people should be persecuted for the crime they have committed, and Apple need to be held accountable for their responsibility within what’s happened. I feel so bad for all of the women who have been exploited through this and can’t imagine why anyone would think it’s okay to look for the pictures.” This is a response which generally follows a lot of exasperated sighs and head shaking at the previous three responses, and sadly seems to be a minority. This will also be the response that I will be contributing to the discussion when it predictably arises.

What’s somewhat frustrating is that I know that in the majority of cases, I won’t be asked my opinion on what’s happened. It’ll probably be the case that instead, having sat trying to bite my tongue for around a minute whilst a plethora of samey, #1 responses are thrown around ahead of me in the lunch line, something will be said that will push me over the limit. I’ve already encountered one example of this, the teeth-grindingly annoying ‘Her body’s not even that great. I don’t get what the fuss is about’. It’ll probably be something like that, which will force me into a position where out of frustration that some people are so ignorant, a generated odd sort of protectiveness over all of the victims, (because that’s what they are – victims – more on that later), and just sheer anguish over the lack of consideration afforded to my gender in situations like this generally, I will say something to them. Probably just a reminder that as this particular group of teenagers have no permission to be even looking at the images, they’ve certainly no permission to be judging them, and as such they shouldn’t be doing so, but I can practically hear the laugher that will come as a response now.

Because that’s what this is to most people. A joke. Some women who’ve not only been reduced to objects of sexual desire, but also objects of amusement. They don’t think about the repercussions of what’s happened, and the fact that because of some reeking-of-male-entitlement guy who’s probably just loving sitting back and watching all of this unfold, all of these women have had a devastating setback in their careers and their lives.  They instead, think about creating the next stupid pun or gag to humiliate and degrade them further, with The Sun, (ever my least favourite newspaper), somehow thinking that the headline ‘iMad’ was appropriately sensitive.  And what’s sad is that while some wannabe frat boys are sat laughing about it over breakfast, giving a vulnerable woman’s breasts nicknames, and rating her out of ten, that same vulnerable woman is having to deal not only with the god-awfulness of the situation that she’s in but also the sheer amount of victim-blaming that is flying around.

This is generally the first thing that #3 responders will begin to talk about, but it’s almost a given that #1 responders will also descend into this engaged with. They’ll say that in today’s modern age people need to learn to be tech-savvy, need to learn that new technology isn’t always safe, and that as such the best thing to do is to just not take pictures. Furthering on from this, they’ll attribute the blame of what’s happened to the victims of the crime, as opposed to Apple for their lack of security for customers, those who encouraged the original poster within the sickeningly titled ‘the fappening’ thread, the culture that even now is trying to defend this sort of behaviour, and you know, the actual perpetrators. It’s the same sort of reasoning behind the ‘what was she wearing?’, ‘had she been drinking?’, ‘had she had sex before?’ 20Q fired at rape victims. And that’s not right. The only thing that matters in any of these two situations is consent. Did the victims agree? And no, they didn’t.

What’s more, this doesn’t stop here. Not only do we exist in a society that has perpetrator-sympathetic values regarding this instance, but also one that has perpetrator-sympathetic values when the tables are turned. We live in a society that means a friend of mine has had to block roughly 2 people a month for the past nine months on the photo exchanging/communication app ‘snap chat’, because they thought it was perfectly okay, even without her consent, to send pictures of their genitalia to her. That’s what they’d been taught. And yet my friend remains almost silence about the incident, knowing that if she was to speak up about it, she would undoubtedly be met with the same tired #3 responders shrieking that what did she expect?!

The list of 18 (blocked) people who have, without maybe checking to see if it's alright with her first, sent my friend pornographic images in the past year...

The list of 18 (blocked) people who have, without maybe checking to see if it’s alright with her first, sent my friend pornographic images in the past year…

That right there is the clincher of the problem. Rather than being taught to expect that our privacy, and our ability to say yes or no, is a right, we are taught that it’s a privilege. A privilege that can be taken away depending on our gender, our clothing choices, our status within society, (Because you would not believe the amount of people that think that it doesn’t count as an invasion of privacy if they’re a celebrity), our past relationships, and how creepily determined some lonely technophiles on the internet are.

And that reality right there, and the numerous discussions that will all boil down to that reality, is why I’m dreading the return to college.

With thanks to Charlotte Wragg.

The Unfortunate Reality of Women in Sport

The White Ribbon Campaign record a 40% rise in domestic violence in the event of England losing a game.

The White Ribbon Campaign record a 40% rise in domestic violence in the event of England losing a game.

According to the White Ribbon Campaign, a charity which seeks to ‘speak out about male violence against women’, a loss from the English football team during the world cup leads to a rise of almost 40% in rates of domestic abuse. Whether this is an increase in which it is specifically women that are the victims is not addressed, however even if this isn’t the case, and male victims are also counted within the statistic, it will proportionately be women who are the most affected, with summaries of Home Office and NSPCC statistics discovering that overall, 85% of those who suffer from domestic abuse are women. Worryingly, this information may seem unsurprising to many, especially considering the environment which it arises from; football, (and sport in general), has traditionally been – and currently continues to be – a male dominated industry. It is in these patriarchal and androcentric environments that attitudes which reflect little or no respect for women are allowed to thrive, and there are countless examples of this within the world of sport. January 2011 saw the dismissal of Sky Sports presenters Richard Keys and Alan Gray following sexist comments made about assistant referee Sian Massey, John Inversdale caused controversy last year through remarks he made on BBC radio regarding Wimbledon champion Marion Bartoli, and the restricted-to-males membership of the Muirfield Golf Club, (the site of the 2013 gold open championships), generated widespread criticism for what is seen by many to be a sexist policy.

Given these both unchanging and alarming attitudes towards sportswomen within our society, it’s easy to see the motivation behind contemptible and misogynistic opinions such as those which would see such a rise in abuse rates. In an industry which focuses unfairly and consistently on only the male gender, there is little regard for females and any value they have within society.

And it’s the prevalence of these attitudes that explain why the Olympics, described by journalist Sarah Laskow earlier this year as ‘one of the few times, ever, that the media pays attention to female athletes ‘, are vital regarding the position of women within sports. In the London 2012 Olympics, British women alone acquired a total of 50 medals, (17 gold, 12 silver, and 21 bronze), the majority of the US’ medals were won by females, and women’s football brought in record-breaking crowds. Essentially, the sportswomen of the world worked together to demonstrate that – given the chance to prove it- males and females could be equally successful within sport.

Unfortunately, the prevalence of these attitudes also explains why these excellent female Olympians were disallowed from enjoying even a small portion of celebration for their successes before casual misogynists descended upon them.

When medal winning gymnast Beth Tweddle took part in an online Q&A session this January, what had originally been an attempt to bring essential attention to inspirational women in sport became what Claire Cohen describes as ‘a torrent of vile insults and misogyny’, with Tweddle being hatefully branded with abuse like ‘slut’, ‘bitch’, and ‘pig ugly’.

Rebecca Addlington has also publicly commented on the sexism she suffers from through gender expectations regarding appearance. Whilst appearing on reality TV show I’m a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here, the Olympic swimmer stated, “For me, I was an athlete, I wasn’t trying to be a model, but pretty much every single week on Twitter I get somebody commenting on the way I look”.

Furthermore, this trend of placing a higher value on women’s appearances – as opposed to their contributions to sport- is continued massively throughout the internet, with a Facebook page recently coming to my attention through several male friends ‘liking’ it; a fanpage for… wait for it… Jessica Ennis’ bum. The page has around 125 thousand likes, and with a mass of predictable, and ever-so-eloquent comments from users regarding this particular aspect of her physique, there is little suggestion that perhaps Mrs Ennis-Hill should be respected for her position as the current heptathlon champion, as opposed to being belittled into nothing but a representation of male sexual arousal.

Conclusively, we as a society must begin to recognise the severe extent to which sexism exists within sport. But we cannot afford to simply accept that this is the case, and resign, however bitterly, to remain faceless bystanders, cheering on the boys. We must, armed with the information that sportswomen are under-represented, (with 95% of sports media coverage being devoted to males), begin to make a stand for our female athletes. We must do this not only to gain recognition for these incredible and admirable sporting women, but also for those who exist outside of sport. We must do this for those women who will potentially be spending the next few weeks with black eyes and broken ribs simply because of an over hyped game of malestream, patriarchal, kickabout.

References:

The Menstruation Myth

More Bloody Taxes

Dysmenorrhoea. Period pain. It’s not pleasant, but it’s common. The Virtual Medical Centre, Australia’s leading medical information website, reported in 2005 that between 40-70% of women of reproductive age suffer from the condition, and of these women, 10% report their symptoms, (which can be as mildly irritating as a dull ache, or as immobilizing as severe cramping), as being especially intense. However, other studies from around the same era, such as that by Feminax, found that over 80% of a group of 600 females suffered from period pains, and that what’s more, 10% of the group found the pains so debilitating that, on a monthly basis, they were forced to take time off work. Despite the commonly portrayed ideas of what women like to get up to on their periods, for a lot of women the main desires really aren’t roller-skating, jogging, horse-riding, or anything that doesn’t involve being laid in bed and assuming the foetal position; menstruation is definitely no walk, (or skate), in the park.

And that’s just the bodily side of things. Socially, it can be even more difficult to be a woman on your period. Maybe, it’s down to the fact that we exist in a society where women are so extensively sexualised that the thought of a vagina being used for anything more than accommodating penises that people are so repulsed by menstruation,(Because of course, all of us women essentially plead to mother nature for our body to strip itself apart). Or perhaps it has something to due with many people’s first encounter with periods – in an awkward primary school sex education classroom, surrounded by peers who have already branched off into gender-dependant groups, and as such find anything to do with the opposite sex gross. One thing, however, is definitely for certain. Periods are taboo.

There are many examples of this. As Colin Schultz suggested early this year, one of the most obvious indications that there is a taboo surrounding periods is the use of blue, and not red, liquids within many advertisements demonstrating the capability of feminine hygiene products. This tradition was only broken in 2011, and is essentially just a somewhat evolved version of the ‘urgh! Blood!’ reaction that appears around the same time as the aforementioned sex ed. Class, and just serves to reinforce the idea that a period is disgusting, dirty, and something to be hidden away. In an article by Hannah Betts last year, Betts gave the example of Uta Pippig, and the controversey the runner caused when she ran, (and won!), the Boston marathon in 1996 – with visible menstrual blood. Betts describes how ‘Commentators were rendered speechless, referring to “physical problems”, “stomach pain” and “diarrhoea”. In 2000, Karen Houppert also found herself exploring the taboo within her work, coming to the conclusion that periods are not just a forbidden subject, but also a confusing one; as females, we’re taught from a young age that they are natural, but from then on, the majority of the advice we’re given only covers how to hide them. And what’s more, Houppert notes that even menopause, which signifies the end of this apparent stain, (forgive the pun), on our lives, is a subject strictly forbidden to talk about. However, perhaps one of the most notable ways in which the nature of menstruation taboo is exhibited is by the gloriously pink-haired youtuber Albinwonderland, who, in reaction to the launching of a ‘resealable tampon’, commented on the fact that the concept of these tampons is yet another demonstration of society’s refusal to accept the reality of periods. It’s a way of hiding the bloody actuality that accompanies the female reproductive system by making use of ‘easy and discreet disposal’; instead of putting a used tampon, (rubbish), in the bin, (with other rubbish), the apparent expectation is to place the tampon back in it’s packet, and carry it around with you until you are able to find a more suitable place to dispose of the evidence, thus continuing the taboo.

Subsequently, with all of society’s hullabaloo and anxiety surrounding the topic, you’d think that it would be made easy for us to ensure that our natural, seven million year old, not hurting anyone, process would be easier to hide, considering the probable reaction if we were to venture out, ‘riding the crimson tide’, without some form of sanitary product. You’d assume, generally, that considering the mounting evidence that society really doesn’t want to hear about your bodily fluids, they’d consider the sanitation of your bodily fluids, and as such the prevention of trips to the hospital to deal with consequent fairly unpleasant health problems, or even just the discretion of your bodily fluids, ‘essential’, would you not?

Well, apparently, when it comes to Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, this is not the case! No no; Mr Osborne believes female sanitary products are ‘unessential’, and that as such, they are in need of a 5% tax rate.

This is a somewhat bemusing decision at face value, given the implication that Mr Osborne is quite literally taxing individuals based on their gender, and doing so whilst they’re in potentially both a physically, and socially uncomfortable situation. Fundamentally, women are expected to not only hobble our way to whatever shop is closest, clutching our cramping stomachs, and casting awkward glances behind us to make sure nobody has noticed that we are part of the female gender, (and as such our body reflects this), but we are then expected to pay excessive amounts of money in order to maintain our hygiene during this ridiculously challenging monthly occasion. However, what’s even more bemusing about this decision is that, if we were so inclined, we could theoretically hobble our way to whatever shop is closest, clutching our cramping stomachs, and casting awkward glances behind us us to make sure nobody has noticed that we are part of the female gender, (and as such our body reflects this), and then purchase – tax-free – men’s razors, cake decorations, alcoholic dessert jellies, and… wait for it… crocodile steaks.

Evidently, Mr Osborne is fairly confused as to exactly what essential is defined at. I for one, having only ever come in contact with one item from that list, (cake decorations), can confirm that I’m really quite okay; even without the benefit of alcoholic jelly, exotic meat, or a man’s razor.

On the other hand, I’m certain that I would not be okay without the benefit of feminine hygiene products. I’m quite certain that if I didn’t make use of them, not only would I be severely criticised within our society, (which as I’ve already suggested, is fairly against the idea of periods, and as such probably wouldn’t want me bleeding here, there, and everywhere), or be forced into perpetually buying new sets of underwear to replace those that wouldn’t look out of place a slasher film prop, but that also, (as the name of the products suggests), I would face a lack of hygiene. What’s more, I’m not alone in this thought, with the ‘Stop taxing periods. Period.’ petition having been set up by the lovely Laura Coryton last month. The 34,000 signature strong movement, aims to convince Mr Osborne to ‘recognise the essentiality’ of the products which he deems un-needed, (Though no doubt this wouldn’t be the case were he to suddenly wake up and find that not only did he have a vagina, but that having gone to sleep on white sheets, he’d woken up on the Japanese flag), and, quite rightly, advises him that ‘failure to acknowledge this, especially in comparison with other menial products, is an insult to men and women alike, and should be reversed. ‘

So come on Mr Osborne. Stop taxing periods.

Period.

References

I’m a Mother and I Had An Abortion – Cosmopolitan

I’m a Mother and I Had An Abortion – Cosmopolitan

There are not “women who have abortions” on one side and “women who are mothers” on another. 

Justin Bieber, We Don’t Accept Your Apology | NOISEY

Top Gear: It’s a man’s world.

Fifty four year old television personality Jeremy Clarkson, best known for his role as a presenter on BBC’s Top Gear, is no stranger to controversy. His lengthy career – which isn’t strictly limited to television, but also includes regular columns for both The Sunday Times and The Sun, (Though anyone who reads this regularly enough have hopefully recognised that I’d hardly class the latter as journalism; No More Page 3!) – has been almost defined by his ability to generate dispute and cause offense. Be it the claim of South Korean motor company Hyundai in 1998 that Clarkson was ‘bigoted and racist’, the 500 complaints generated in 2008 by jokes he made surrounding the murder of prostitutes by lorry drivers, or even the 21,335 complaints that the BBC received in November 2011 following his suggestion that the striking public sector should be ‘executed in front of their families’, it’s almost unarguable that his continued success as a celebrity persona is reliant upon the amount of shock he is able to create through his ‘humour’. But this time, it seems that his ability to produce scandal has landed him in near-scalding, dangerously hot water.

Clarkson’s most recent disgrace would in fact seem to support those claims of Hyundai almost twenty years ago, with polemic caused by his apparent use of racial slurs on two separate occasions; one a pejoratively derogatory term for Asian persons, and another, the dreaded ‘n word’, relentlessly offensive to any Black individuals. And it appears, (Hurrah!), that the enraged backlash from these carelessly racist comments has finally got through to the otherwise obliviously offensive presenter, with a humble and apologetic video released, and an admission within The Sun that should he be the in the centre of any further outrages, he will inevitably lose his job.

But why is it this incident which has generated so much media attention? Had I myself not heard about it through near-constant coverage from newspapers and news stations alike, I doubtlessly wouldn’t be writing about it right now. Without question, what Clarkson did is horrendously wrong on all fronts, and this is the case for all of the casual racism which exists within our media, perpetrating and perpetuating a culture in which racism is still, (Unbelievably, given the time that we live in), very much present. Nobody is arguing against that, and by no means am I trying to lessen the gravity of the situation and the severity with which punishment should be dealt out. But what about his casual sexism?

No doubt, the world of Top Gear is very much a man’s world. More than half of those who watch the show are male, and the BBC themselves specify that the core audience is ‘males 18-35’, or ‘dads and lads’. But why does this, that is a mainly male target audience, nearly always go hand in hand with the kind of casual sexism that can be just as detrimental to our communities as casual racism, but for some reason, receives far less coverage? It is quite right that Clarkson’s racial slurs have received such negative exposure from the media, but what’s not quite right is that equally offensive gender-based comments and actions have consistently been dubbed as harmless, protected by the “It’s just banter” excuse that casual sexism always seems to fall under.

When the trailer for the latest series of the show aired last year it was met with hefty criticism from quite a few irritated individuals, and was accused of supporting and furthering the sort of gender stereotypes which upholds the climate within our culture that sexism is able to thrive in; whilst the boys drove cars, got muddy, and generally had a lot of fun, us women, (Bless our hearts), well, we did nothing really, just sewed their clothes back up and tutted about their shenanigans. And what were those quite justifiable irritated people met with when they tried to criticise this? Well, in the case of Lorraine Candy, they were met with comments which almost exclusively damned feminism, feminists, and women in general; as one eloquent supporter of the show put it, and received 144 positive ratings in the process, ‘get a life you stupid woman’.

In my own experience, even, it seems that Top Gear, and indeed any other show which tries to cast out that laddish, one of the boys aura, is somehow exempt from any criticism regarding sexism, or at least any criticism which is taken seriously. In a recent saddening experience I commented to my thirteen year old sister, who was watching the show, (Who, having grown up with two older Feminist siblings, is no stranger to recognising misogyny in our media), that the seemingly irrelevant presence of a bikini-clad woman within one of their episodes was un-needed, and would potentially only serve to alienate their less than half female audience further; it taught them that as females, they didn’t really belong inside the car, but more outside of it, perhaps within some sort of merge between a wet t-shirt competition and a charity carwash. Her reply, “It’s Top Gear. What do you expect?”, simply served to illustrate that this alienation of over half of the population was so common that it was to be expected, and that I should either not watch the show or simply put up with it… if you don’t like, don’t look. As such, the television show holds some sort of authority in which, rather than being held accountable to sexism, and changing its ways to suit a world in which men and women really shouldn’t have to put up with such patriarchal, savile-era problems, the audience are left to change instead.

What’s more, worryingly, it appears that this casual sexism mentality is not only present within Top Gear itself, but that its presenters were also prepared to defend this within other aspects of the media, extending their male-stream, gender-blind influence to all reaches of our society. When fellow presenters Richard Keys and Andy Gray, of Sky Sports, were criticised for off-air sexist comments surrounding Sian Massey, a female assistant referee, Clarkson came to their defence. The hero he is, he defended all of our rights to believe in out-of-date notions such as ‘women can’t drive’, and claimed that the dismissal of Gray as a result of the scandal was ‘terrifying’. Perhaps somebody should have let him know that he’d really nothing to be scared of; when it comes to sexist whistleblowing, the mainstream media still doesn’t really care.

Man who posted video online having sex with sleeping woman is cleared of rape

Woman Files Sexual Harassment Complaint, Is Suspended From Work For Five Days

Freckled Feminist:

A sad story. Perhaps an inappropriate comment, but in no way whatsoever condones the response.

Originally posted on The Belle Jar:

Trigger warning for talk of sexual assault

If a woman is sexually harassed or assaulted in the workplace, then she must have done something to cause it.

At least, that’s the message being put forth by the Toronto’s parks and recreation department, where late last month a woman was suspended from work for five days after accusing a male co-worker of unzipping his pants and rubbing his penis against her in the lunchroom.

Susan Rose was responding to a comment made by her colleague John Maynard with, “I will punch you in the dick.” Maynard then became, in her words, “aggressive,” saying, “Do you want to punch me in the dick?” while unzipping his pants and walking towards her. Rose turned away from him and grabbed onto another colleague’s arm, but felt Maynard pressing his body up against hers. She then heard a third colleague tell Maynard to wash his…

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