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Rather disappointed by this article by Gemma Soames in the Sunday Times today. 

The premise being a look at the new faces of feminism, which succeeds only in trashing previous waves of feminism, being patronising to the concept of feminists being young and engaging with culture, and being somewhat contemptuous of women who do not consider themselves feminist.

The contents page (not available online) has the headline "Pretty Equal", followed by "they're young, glamorous, and fighting for the cause". Most of the article focuses on the shocking news that some feminists wear dresses, heels and take an interest in their appearance. Cos, you know, we wouldn't want any ugmos to get involved. That would be embarrassing.

An info box to the side has the heading "New Girl Power." Say no more.

Within this info box, I am  told that the new feminist agenda is "the right to do what the hell you like, however you like, in heels - if you like." Er, no, actually. Whilst I accept the basic premise of what is being said, I dislike it whenever feminism is used to justify whatever someone's actions are. I didn't do the washing-up last night. Was this a rejection of the domestic role for women? No. I was just lazy. Furthermore, this sort of utterly lax ideology means it is ok to be Sarah Palin. It means it is ok to be Cheryl Cole, one of the women cited as "icons", and beat up a toilet attendant because you were drunk and she wouldn't give you a free lollipop. Whilst I accept that she was cleared of racial intent, the fact is there was a major power imbalance in that situation. She is a successful celebrity and member of a girl group, whilst this woman was a Nigerian immigrant who worked as a toilet attendant. I don't care that Cheryl Cole is working-class and Northern; she is now in a position of privilege over others.

And she beat up a toilet attendant whilst she was drunk. God, how embarrassing.

The recent protests over the UCL beauty pageant are described as "retro" and "extreme feminism", organized by "angry young women in duffel coats". Actually I was planning to buy a duffel coat recently, but I couldn't find one. God forbid someone try to find some practical winter clothing.

I also saw one of the organizers of the protests on BBC breakfast news last week, and was rather embarrassed by her arguments. Having chosen to wear an t-shirt advocating the student union's anti-tuition fees campaign (because there's nothing like confusing people by having another agenda visible whilst advocating another), she matched this with a skirt which would barely be seen because she was sitting down, and a pair of tights. It looked like she was wearing a t-shirt and tights. It reminded me of an installment of Newsnight during the fuel protests, which had a roundtable discussion of men in suits, with a representative of the fuel protesters. Who was wearing a string vest. it was impossible to take him seriously. The fact is, appearances count.

She was against a poised, together contestant of the UCL pageant who was clearly both beautiful and intelligent. The feminist didn't have a change, particularly when she claimed that beauty pageants conform to a Western standard of beauty whilst sitting next to a woman who was clearly Asian.   Naturally she made hay with  this comment. 

The most depressing part of both that interview and this article is that they miss the point. The beauty pageant is organized by an outside group who describe it as "empowering". It is clearly part of a wider trend in which all that is old is now new again, and "empowering" (Hi, Gok Wan!).


Soames’s interviewees include two models who are striving to form a union who are reluctant to identify themselves as feminists, and Marie Berry, founder of KnockBack magazine, which has headlines such as “The magazine for women who aren’t silly bitches on a diet”. But surely those “silly bitches” are the very ones who need feminism? I realize that feminists tend to be interested in things different to the average Cosmo reader, seeing as it’s easier to be contemptuous of gender roles when you don’t want to fit into them, but is this how we want to see women who aren’t feminists?  Yet later Soames condemns the judgmental nature of feminism (which I agree with – feminism isn’t monolithic), using as evidence the Girl Guide Association’s views on the sexualisation of young women, something that  is clearly excellent that the Girl Guides are identifying and trying to deal with. She also questions people’s disapproval of Jordan, citing the old chestnut that she’s a businesswoman who has made millions – as if the way someone makes their money isn’t relevant at all. Tell that to the bankers who are currently vilified. Not to mention that just because a woman is doing it means it is ok.


Soames’s article seems to have stalled at the very concept that women can be feminists and like shoes. From then on in it becomes almost embarrassed by feminist ideology, concluding with Phoebe Frangoul saying “I do feel it’s time for those feminists to step aside [those who strident opinions that she disagrees of, and, let’s face it, are old and yucky]. It’s like, we’re grateful for what you did, but it’s time for you to hand over. We’ve got a different world-view, and we might have something different to say.” Because shoes are fun.


But really, what else can we except when articles about feminism are in the style section?


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Today has been a long and boring day.

There is no particular reason, just lots of little things. There were only four people in the office instead of seven, as well as my manager being missing for whatever reason she gave that day. It was quiet, but with loads to do because there were so few people there. At one point our tech guy fell asleep.

On the way home a group of hooligans (I refuse to say chavs) got on my bus and had a delightful conversation where one related how she dragged a girl off the bus, threw her on the pavement and stamped on her head ("only the once, cos my friend pulled me off"), and how she was outraged that the girl accused her of trying to rob her, because during this assault her bag got thrown in the road. The gall!

Then when they left one of them suggested going through the fire exit. The others said no, so they left through the normal door. Then once they'd gotten off the bus, one of them ran back across the road and opened the fire exit.

So then I shut it.

What an absolutely pointless exercise.

Aside from that it's been stupid things - no food in the house, my brother playing computer games far too loudly, internet connection upping and dying every few minutes just because it can. Downloading the new version of winamp and it refusing to acknowledge my ipod.

I just wish something would happen.

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Friday I went to see Amanda Palmer at Koko with my lovely friend Tom, whom you may remember from when I saw MIA.  I ended up being stupidly late and missing the support act whilst Tom huddled in Sainsburys waiting for me.

Because of this I could only get half-way through the crowd, meaning most of my experience consisted of watching the top of Amanda's head.


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The Killing Joke: Music By Old Men, For Old Men.

Last night I went to see The Killing Joke. This was a last-minute thing, born about because my brother had tickets and his friend was hospitalised with gallstones.

As usual with reunion tours, the audience consisted vastly of middle-aged white men, although I was pleasantly surprised by the number of women - not enough for there to be a queue for the ladies though. Last night's performance was exclusively their first two albums; they're working through the rest of their back catalogue on consecutive weekends. Overall their show was pretty interesting - they still have a lot of energy after all these years, and large video screens either side of the stage for people like me who are too short to actually see the band showing video collages for each song ( including some striking footage of female Asian soldiers practising their drills which was clearly from a propaganda film but was very reminiscent of an MGM musical).

Of course, there are occasionally ridiculous moments at such gigs. Like the singer announcing

- That 9/11 was an inside job.

-That the British response to the mortgage crisis and people losing their houses was going to be  "build[ing] prison camps, like the Americans."

- That the presence of NATO bases on British soil meant that we are an occupied nation, because NATO = America, and we don't need them now that we're in the EU.

I don't know about you, but now that a middle-aged musician wearing clown make-up has told me these things, I definitely believe them.

Never before has "shut up and sing" been more appropriate.

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Had a terrible sleep last night. I was so tired I fell asleep at 9.30, only to wake up at 1.30 and doze for what felt like a couple of hours. Then I woke up at 8.30. So much for the Sunday morning lie-in.

First week at work has been odd. I don't think I can consider it to be a standard week. There are more people who have been hired, but I've started first because I harrassed them about giving me a start date. I wasn't doing it because I was so excited, they just didn't get back to me for a week and I was worrying that I'd miss my start date or something. They've let me go early each day; the latest I've stayed is 3.30, which isn't very useful for measuring how long it will take me to get home. It tends to be about an hour and a half from hospital to my house, but I have no doubt that will be longer at 5pm. I haven't even figured out what time I need to get the bus in the morning in order to be there by nine, because they keep telling me to come in late. Each time I get the bus the traffic conditions seem to change, and getting a bus ten minutes later or earlier makes quite a difference in when I get there. But starting tomorrow I think I have to work standard hours; something about someone important coming back and having to log my hours. Which is going to be tedious. Even in my last job I was sneaking out at 4.40.

This week I've been listening to a lot of Elbow, following their Mercury win. I dug out their old albums and my opinions have completely changed. I used to like their first album the most, thought Cast Of Thousands was a bit rubbish and quite liked Leaders of the Free World. Now both Cast of Thousands and Leaders of the Free World are great, and singles aside, I'm not too fond of Asleep in the Back. Leaders of the Free World has excellent lyrics, especially in Great Expectations. I'm a bit annoyed with Guy Garvey because of it. Be less good!

Yesterday I bought The Seldom-Seen Kid, which I also thoroughly enjoyed. Is it a better album than Do You Like Rock Music? Well... yes. I'm not going to complain about that decision. Highlight is The Bones of You, definitely. Annoyingly my CD does not play well in my computer. Winamp completely refuses to play the first two tracks, and Windows Media Player has the first track as 59 minutes, as it has the entire album in it. Track two does not exist, and the rest is fine, which is particularly galling as The Bones of You is track two! At first I thought I had a dodgy CD, but it plays fine on a normal CD player, and also on the PC downstairs. So I don't really know what I'm going to do about that.

Yesterday at Oxfam an aging gentleman with white hair, glasses and a nice jumper came in and bought a talking heads album. It was vinyl, so I had to get the record out from under the counter. When I produced it, he gasped and said "it's brand new!". It was quite lovely. I also had an annoying man buy several tapes; our policy is two for 99p, but if you buy one it has to be 99p. This is because 99p is the lowest price we sell stuff in the shop, and we get loads of tapes. When I told him this he refused to pay, utterly outraged that we would do such a thing. Apparently 99p is too much to pay for a twenty-year old album on cassette. Exactly how much would he be willing to pay instead? This is completely ignoring the fact that it's a charity shop and the point of selling things is funds for Oxfam's continued existence. I put all his stuff back on the shelves, as he just left it on the counter, and later he came back and bought everything for the correct price, saying "I know it's not your fault." How good of him. People have no concept of the value of things these days.

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The first two days of work at my new job have been less than amazing.

Monday I came in, got all my forms sorted out, and went to my office where I'm working in a team of about twelve. There wasn't a computer for me, because they'd ordered new ones which had arrived on Friday, but the sacred order of the NHS means only IT people can set them up. So they got me some anatomy books and basic stuff on coding to read about, and sent me off to a long lunch. i also couldn't get an ID card because their printer isn't working. So they sent me home at about two.

Today I was told to come in at 10 because my manager had a medical appointment and she would be training me. I did, and she followed shortly after, announcing that she'd realised halfway to her appointment that it is in fact tomorrow. The computer was still not set up, but the IT man came quite quickly. I sat down with some exercise books on clinical coding, and found that it's really quite hard. After lunch I sat down with my manager to do some actual coding for the first time; she'd picked out several sets of notes of babies that had just been born, so all I would have to do was log their existence. And the application didn't work. After fiddling about on the internet for a while, another IT man arrived and it transpired that during the initial install it er, hadn't installed.

So then I went off to the ID card place to pick up my (blank for now) card which would give me access to useful places like my office. And they couldn't find mine, although there was a rather attractive Irish surgeon there to get his.

So once more I was sent home at 2pm. I will be arriving at 10am tomorrow, as my manager is going to her actual doctors appointment.

I am rather annoyed at the comment section in AV Club's Amanda Palmer review. It's perfectly acceptable to dislike her music, but there's a contempt and dismissiveness to what's being sad that often occurs when women are discussed there. It reminds me of the Pippettes album review where someone said the only part of seeing them perform was looking up their skirts.

The fangirlish part of me wants to dive into the comments and correct all the factual errors. But that would be very stupid indeed.

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Well. British Sea Power's Tan Hill Festival was this weekend, which, inevitably, I missed. This was due to a lack of a) tent b) funds c) planning and d) people willing to go, particularly those who actually enjoy British Sea Power, seeing as it was supposed to be  a BSPtacular. Frustratingly their forums aren't working (as usual), so I find out via a blog comment that Mark Ronson, the Klaxons, and Arctic Monkeys all showed up and played with them.

This is just like the time I couldn't be bothered to go to the opening party of The Mic, Nottingham University's music magazine, and The Rapture showed up. And The killers. And the next issue was full of thinly-veiled jokes about their drug consumption.

(By the way The Rapture, I have never forgiven you for changing the name of your most recent album to Pieces Of The People We Love from Taco Party.)

I should have a job some times this week. I'm feeling a bit ambivalent, almost disappointed about it. On the one hand I'm pretty grateful to find a new job with relatively decent money just before what looks like a pretty bad recession. But it's a minimum of one hour on the bus each way (probably more now schools are back) and it's really not what I want to do at all (just NHS admin). And although I wouldn't mind this as a stopgap, party of me thinks it really won't be. I'm a bit worried I'll end up like a friend's sister, who graduated from university at a pretty crappy time economically, couldn't find a job for a very long time, and once she got a job which she was over qualified for, stayed at it forever. Then last year everyone in her office laughed at her because she was nearly thirty and hadn't left home yet. (I am unclear whether this was due to money, or an idea that she would some day get her life together and never got around to it)

This is compounded by the fact that I have no idea what it is I want to do with my life, so I have no real way of getting there. Also I'm trying to get people to see Amanda Palmer in October, and so far I've got one probably not, one maybe and three no replies whatsoever. Thanks friends.

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Following on from a Jezebel post about Candace Bushell comes a question nobody bothers to think about.

Which is a worse "feminist" show: Sex In The City or Ally McBeal?

Sex In The City

- Tedious view of women written by men
-Irritating main female character the audience is supposed to emphazise with
- Main female characters on the show remain friends despite no real explanation of why they are friends to begin with. However, other female characters often existed as competition (particularly if younger).
-That weird episode where Carrie decides she can't be with a bisexual man because it's too "juvenile". (Guest star: Alanis Morissette)
-Originally closeted lesbian actress: Cynthia Nixon
- No truly good parodies of which I can remember.
-Irritating gimmick of interviews with "people" representing "men" and "women" thankfully dropped after the first year.
-Quite good for glimpses of second-tier New York actors
-Main relationship between Carrie and Big ridiculously supports emotional isolation, adultery and general dickery if you rilly rilly like someone
- Sarah Jessica Parker voted Maxim's least attractive woman because she has the gall to have a long face.
-Sex and the City lasts for fricking years, allegedly creates trend, has massive film which makes studios realize that women will see films about women (NO SHIT) and makes male film critics say irritating things like "watching this film made my testicles rise back into my body".
-Never made lead characters sing
-Geri Halliwell.
-Ferris Bueller

Ally McBeal

- Tedious view of women written by men
- Irritating female character the audience is supposed to emphazise with
- Most female characters on the show portrayed as competitive and bitchy, with great hair
- All of those weird episodes which would have been offensive had they been better written about sexual harrassment law and diversity in the workplace etc.
- Excellent parodies such as Ally McSquirrel (Adam and Joe), and Single Female Lawyer (futurama)
- Irritating gimmick of "funny" effects really fucking annoying.
-Originally closeted lesbian actress: Portia DeRossi
- Had Robert Downey Jr for a bit until he passed out in his neighbour's car bed
-But also Bon Jovi
- Main relationship between Ally and that Billy guy just fucking weird. But she at least moved on. After he died.
- Calista Flockhart criticised in the media for being incredibly thin
-Was supposed to be zeigeisty, trend-setting show. Was for about a week.
- And that whole kid thing.
-And Dame Edna.
-Han Solo

Conclusion: couldn't give a fuck.


My cat has hurt his back foot. He's been hopping around since last night so now he's going to the vet.

The problem is that he's gone out and we don't know where he is. Presumably he's gone and hidden somewhere he feels safe, but it's a bit worrying because he won't be able to defend himself properly if he can't move fast, and there's a big cat down the road he keeps getting in fights with. And losing.

We don't think he got in a fight this time, because it's only the foot that's hurt. Normally he gets more scratches on him. But it can't have been a car either, because otherwise he'd be horribly messed up.

So we think he's broken it, and he might get a kitty plaster cast and a big cone round his face, or they'll have to amputate it. Which wouldn't be too bad; there was a cat near my school who had three legs and he was always jumping around everywhere.

But for now he's hopping around everywhere and looking sad.

In cheerier, non-cat related news, I have been reading Crap At The Environment by Mark Watson. I do like Mark Watson. He's a faux-Welsh ridiculously tall man who likes going through second-hand book shops and was made to push around a chair when he went ice-skating with his school, at least that's what he claims in this book. I laughed out loud at the ice-skating part, and this is from someone who broke their arm last time they went skating. Just think about that image for a moment.

I've read some reviews which say that the book is a little more about Mark Watson than the environment per se, and that's true. But that's ok, because he is great, and a lot of it relates to his difficulties in adopting ecological ways, such as the moment he is told that he'd do better at it if he didn't have the need to be constantly DOING things all the time; this is a man who, at the age of twenty-eight, has gotten a first at Cambridge, written three books, won a Perrier award, created an environmental group and enjoys playing marathon stand-up shows, the longest  of which lasted for 36 hours. It's interesting to see someone try to integrate environmental things into their life when they a) aren't from a particularly political/ecological background and b) aren't really sure of what to do, but in a non-irritating way. I've been trying to make more environmental changes to my life, but really I haven't got much further than telling off people for putting left-over fruit in the bin rather than the compost heap, and using the library a lot.

I've previously read his last book, A Light-Hearted Look at Murder, which I also really enjoyed, and found to be quite sad in places. And I plan to see him when he plays in London in September. And I'm seriously considering buying his first radio series, Mark Watson Makes The World A Considerably Better Place, which has the excellent Tim Minchin in it.

By which I mean I can't find a torrent, and they don't have it in the library.

Furthermore, the second series of that starts in a mere week on Radio 4. Damn, I wish I were him.