Wednesday, 15 November 2017

Misgendering and authority

A local incident here in Oxford has caught the attention of the world. Joshua Sutcliffe, a maths teacher at the state secondary school just down the road, has been suspended and faces disciplinary action for 'misgendering' a pupil - a 'student', as they are now called, apparently. Calling schoolchildren 'students' as if they were at University and of majority age confuses the fact that they are still minors. This is not a trivial point, in context. For essentially, the context is one of authority. Here we have a biologically female minor who is offended by being referred to as a girl by a teacher ("Well done, girls!", as the poor chap merely said) and this turns into a parental complaint several weeks later. The minor is then given the authority by the school's action on the complaint to utterly rule over the teacher, a responsible adult, who should by the nature of his position be in authority over the minor. This is a very strange state of affairs. The case has made waves, yet the reality is that it's  only a small manifestation of a rampaging problem: the destabilising effect the push for transgender children is already causing, and will increasingly cause, to the social fabric. How about we regain some sense and proportion by using this simple method: minors, school-children, those who are not yet legally adult and who participate in whatever way in primary and secondary level education, do not get to dictate to adults on the subject of their sexual identity. That's it. And here's why: for one thing, it's unfair to the teachers, who have too many social engineering burdens to deal with already. For another, it's just rude. Kids are not entitled to boss grown-ups around, let alone get them disciplined or possibly fired for not blinding themselves to the scientific reality of sex differentiation. Once out of school, at university, in work: knock yourselves out. Until then, where adults and children interact on daily basis, where the rational education of minors is at stake, the adults are in charge. If parents rebel against this they can educate their children at home and stop tripping up the teachers who are trying to do their best for all the pupils in their care.

Thursday, 31 August 2017

Are you Charlie?

The response from French weekly magazine "Charlie Hebdo" to hurricane Harvey's devastation in Houston and elsewhere in Texas: a cover, portraying a bunch of Nazi flags and saluting hands going down in the flood, with the caption: "God exists! He has drowned all the neo nazis of Texas!" Sweet.  Last week the magazine published this cover in response to the murderous attack in Barcelona.
The caption reads: "Islam, religion of peace...eternal" a pun on 'peace eternal' as a way of referring to the after-life. This got them into all sorts of trouble for daring to equate the actions of the jihadis with their avowed motive i.e. Islam's call to jihad against infidels (us) and hypocrites (insufficiently Islamic muslims). They got into trouble for making fun of the truth about the perpetrators. The Texas cover, on the other hand, is an outright slur. And it's a slur against the victims of a natural disaster. Worse, it's a rejoicing over the deaths of the victims of a natural disaster, with a damnable slur thrown on top of it. I wonder if that's the kind of joy the magazine describes itself as having on its website. "Charlie Hebdo", it tells us, is a magazine that is "satirical, secular, political and joyous". But then , in English, it also says it is "a punch in the face" and "an angry magazine"; that life is too short to not be "laughing it up a storm", because "very nearly everything" is "ridiculous", "absurd or preposterous". Well, I'm going to stick my neck out here and say "Charlie Hebdo", shame on you for not sticking to your own motives. There is nothing satirical, secular, political and certainly nothing joyous about the Texas cover because there is no truth in it. And there has to be at least a drop of truth in a provocative stance to make it interesting.

Wednesday, 30 August 2017

"Bake Off" on Channel 4

There's much to worry about in the world at the moment, so what better object to focus on than a baking show? The big move of "The Great British Bake Off" from the state-run, advertisement-free, BBC to commercial Channel 4 has finally materialised, with the first episode of the new series broadcast last night. A lot of fans took to social media to express their views on the added 15 minutes or so of commercials, viewing this development as either a good or a bad one. Good because it allows for tea/wine/cake breaks, or bad because it interrupts the flow of the show. I care more about the change in staff. Three out the four original presenters didn't make the move to Channel 4: baking judge Mary Berry, and the comedy duo of Mel and Sue as the jolly compères. They have been replaced with Prue Leith as judge, and an ill-assorted twosome of Sandi Toksvig and someone called Noel Fielding as the supposedly comic relief. Who - or indeed what - Fielding is I couldn't tell you. Transgender? Just a man who likes to wear weird clothes and lots of make-up? He is apparently a comedian, but is so tall and lugubrious, as well as strange looking, I had to check the impulse to hide behind a sofa every time he sloped onto the screen. He and Toksvig had no discernible chemistry. They both have unpleasant voices, and further grate on aesthetic sensibilities by being visual opposites (tall, thin, dark vs short, dumpy, blonde). There is no way of satisfyingly framing them in a screen shot. Neither seems remotely interested in baking. Channel 4 are perhaps trying to reel in a younger audience with this Fielding fellow (?). I have no idea who Toksvig's audience might be. She is a well-known 'out' lesbian, so maybe the thinking behind the new line-up is simply one of Political Correctness. (Of course Sue was also a well-known lesbian, but she and best-friend Mel balanced each other out very sweetly.) This is Channel 4, after all, and it would hardly be surprising if their take on the Great British Family Show was to make an in-your-face PC point from the start. One of the very first of the twelve bakers to be introduced last night was a female contestant who said that the sight of the famous tent had made her all giddy (or something), just like at her wedding. Then after a well-timed pause: 'Except that my wife isn't here". Well, that's us told. Of Prue Leith, all I can remember is heavy-framed dark glasses. She and her fellow-judge, BBC original Paul Hollywood, had no chemistry either.  I mean, come on, baking is all about chemistry! The cakes were pretty amazing, especially for a series opener. It would be a Great Shame if the series continued as it started last night, by undermining the talented contestants with dud presenters.  

Monday, 31 July 2017

Not Greening but burning

Wouldn't it be nice if Justine Greening, UK Secretary of State for Education, lived up to her name and sought to implement measures promoting natural wholesomeness? But no. Her proposal to bypass the gender dysphoria diagnosis and allow people to officially choose their gender merely on their own say-so is anything but natural and wholesome. It is a further assault on the basic facts of society and civilisation, as well as an assault on sanity, particularly on the well-being of children and young people. It is like wanting to make things easier for one or two smaller or overshadowed trees by burning down the rest of the forest around them. We know the Conservative party is no longer conservative. This announcement by Greening of a reform to the 2004 Gender Recognition Act to overthrow objective reality is so anarchic and destructive I can't think what it should be called. Peter Hitchens had a good line on this in yesterday's Mail on Sunday:
Let's change the Tories name - to Doris
I suspect the whole ‘Trans’ issue has been cooked up so that nobody can ever say anything about it (including here) without being somehow in the wrong, and open to attack by the Thought Police. Now that there’s no more mileage in homosexuality, it’s the best way of making conservatives look like bigots.
But those of you who have clung to the Tory Party through thick and thin must have wondered a bit last week when it endorsed the idea that anyone can be whatever sex, sorry ‘gender’, that they want to be.
Here’s the simple explanation. The Tory Party itself has changed sex, from Right to Left. It is a ‘Trans’ party. I’m puzzled that it has yet to change its name. How about ‘Doris’? And it now feels free to come out. Yet still you vote for it.
This is the best tactic if, as Mark Twain apparently said, 'Against the assault of laughter nothing can stand'. Maybe we can laugh this scorched-earth proposal out of existence. There has to come a point when turning basic, healthy reality on its head becomes too absurd and we can no longer go along with it for the sake of the feelings of a tiny minority. Tiny minorities are to be loved and cared for within the realm of sanity, not to be used as a flaming torch on the very structures which allow them to exist in the first place. 

Wednesday, 26 July 2017

Doctor Who cares? and female women

People seem interested in "Doctor Who". Certainly it gets a lot of publicity, year in year out. I've lived in the UK for a total of about 23 years without ever not hearing about it - but without ever watching it either. So basically I don't care. "The Week" describes "Doctor Who" as "a children's show that has only five million viewers". Yet the promotion for the upcoming series has been particularly unavoidable, to the point of being irritatingly sneaked into the Wimbledon coverage by the BBC (who make the show). And why the fuss? Because the new, 13th actor to play the title character is not an actor but, for the first time, an actress. Cue wailing and gnashing of teeth on the part of adults fans. They don't like the evermore PC direction the series has been taking, and who (so to speak) can blame them. Cue also the cover-clogs commentators who make out those dissenting fans to be knuckle-draggers. This tweet in particular, from the singer Mark Hoppus (I'd never heard of him - is that bad?) was taken as representative of the counter-backlash against the traditionalists: 

However, anyone inclined to see it as a slam-dunk should think again. Female doctors, pilots, scientists we already have. I don't hear anyone clamouring for more women in the dirty, dangerous, depressing jobs that only men do (as many others have pointed out (e.g. "Independent Man' and which keep us all in the comfort, cleanliness, security and satiety we've come to expect. A hollow argument. The next part of the tweet is already a non-argument. I have seen an article in 'The Times' which I could swear pointedly referred to sisters as 'siblings' to avoid gendering them. I didn't keep a record of the article, unfortunately, but no doubt there will be other instances of such neutering. In the meantime, we have pushes to make the word 'mother' disappear from birth certificates and presumably other official documents. We have the new concept that it's not only women who give birth: transgender 'men' do also. That is to say, women who identify as men, while retaining their female reproductive organs or retaining them long enough to give birth then having them removed. We have the now firmly entrenched concept that a man who says he's a woman is as much a woman as a 'cis' woman. Woe betide anyone who questions this malarkey, as once-fêted feminists have found out. The time when a woman needs to be specified as female is upon us. This recent piece in The Huffington Post is a good example. Look at the picture (trigger warning: menstrual blood).
Read the 'poem' that accompanies the picture. By all means have compassion for the predicament of the person who wrote it, angry, confused, clearly trapped in a hell-pit of rebellion. But also consider that this person is a communicator on the subject (new to me) of 'menstrual health'. The 'What next?' in the Hoppus tweet is not clever-clever. It's already out of date.

Saturday, 22 July 2017

O.J.Simpson again

He's in the news again, for being granted parole nine years into a thirty-three year sentence for a robbery attempt in Las Vegas in 2007. Naturally, the murders of his ex-wife Nicole Brown and her young friend Ron Goldman in 1994 get mentioned in reports or discussions of this latest chapter in Simpson's life. Those murders were gruesome and ferociously violent, impossible to forget. Simpson's criminal trial for the murders - the 'trial of the century' - resulted in a 1995 'not guilty' verdict which was infamously celebrated on one side of the racial divide and deplored on the other.  Simpson was deemed liable for the deaths in a 1997 civil trial, however, and ordered to pay over $30 million in reparation to the bereaved families - as a matter of principle (the money has not yet materialised and presumably never will).  It remains that, criminally speaking, the murders are considered to be 'case closed'. Simpson obtained custody of his two children with Nicole, and off he went on his not-merry way, a hero to some, a disgrace to most. The striking thing to me about any mention of Simpson since then is how it is taken for granted he committed those murders. It's as if it would be heresy to accept the 'not guilty' verdict. Yes, I know, there was a huge amount of racial tension in L.A. at the time, and the trial became a political hot potato. But it's also true that the prosecution bungled its case, quite spectacularly. It's arguable, furthermore, that the evidence was not entirely convincing. The murder weapon was never found, for example. And as I wrote previously on this blog ("O.J. Simpson: too dim to do it?") there was a remarkable lack of blood connected to Simpson. Or rather, an unremarked-upon lack of blood. That the blood evidence was spelled out in mere drops, in a crime of such sheer bloodiness, is bizarre at best. From a psychological point of view, I've never understood why it's assumed, as if it went without saying, that a man who pleads 'no contest' to spousal abuse (as he did in 1989) can go on to butcher two people in what must have been a frenzy of rage. One does not seamlessly lead to the other. If it did, wouldn't the criminal landscape be very different? Previous to the murders, a volatile marriage with incidents of physical abuse; after the murders, an idiotic attempt to recover sports memorabilia. In the middle of these two relatively low-grade transgressions we are to believe without question that a man leaped into the monstrous crime category for about ten minutes then came out of it again with enough composure to finish his packing and fly off to Chicago. And this from someone who based his whole life and career(s) on being a 'pleaser', someone who courted approval from the dominant culture at all times. Even his eligibility for parole came up because he behaved as a model prisoner. Of course he did. There is a narrative that does see O.J. Simpson as innocent, and his son from his first marriage as the potential culprit. ( Simpson did not help his own cause by penning an unpublished book entitled If I Did It, apparently featuring an imaginary person named Charlie and a convenient blackout when the murders occurred. One way or another I'm not arguing for Simpson's guilt or innocence, simply saying that on several levels the assumption of his unquestioned guilt is problematic.

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

'Ladies and Gentlemen'

One of the texts for an online course I did recently was a transcript of lectures given more than a hundred years ago to undergraduate students of English at Oxford. The text had often triggered previous participants of the course therefore it came with caveats from the course leader about the sexism involved. For the terrible truth is that the lecturer addressed the students as 'Gentlemen'. They were all young men, so it made sense for him to address them that way. Furthermore, (gentle)manliness was the main theme of the lecturer's teaching: writing like a man, with purpose and clarity and so on. There was perhaps also a class element underlying the disapproval of 21st century students: those young men were almost certainly gentlemen in the socio-economic sense as well, and therefore privileged. This was Oxford, after all. The young men would soon be sent to fight, die or be maimed in the trenches of World War I, and consider it their duty to society to do so, but let's gloss over that. What grated on contemporary ears was that it was 'Gentlemen' and not 'Ladies and Gentlemen'. Since those benighted times, I think it's fair to say that 'Ladies and Gentlemen' has become such a normal, polite and inclusive form of address that we have ceased to see how courteous and progressive it is. How else to explain the recent decision by Transport for London to axe 'Ladies and Gentlemen'? It must now be perceived as a non-inclusive form of public address because it apparently leaves out the non-binary who didn't exist until about ten minutes ago. In its public announcements, TfL will replace the gracious "Ladies and Gentlemen' with an infantile 'Hello Everyone'. It is worth pausing to reflect how the Ladies have disappeared from this particular public discourse, and with not a peep of outrage from anyone, least of all from feminists.

Monday, 17 July 2017

Love is not illegal

The BBC promises to teach us, yokel payers of the license fee, all about "Gay Britannia". In their own words, this is to be a season of "Bold and provocative stories exploring how far we've come since being gay was a crime". The 50th anniversary of the Sexual Offences Act (the decriminalisation of homosexual acts) is this year, and evidently the BBC does not want to let this milestone go unnoticed. Although why the title they chose is not deemed to show an offensive disregard for L, B, T, Q, etc etc people is unclear. I guess BBC writers are as fallible as others in not being able to resist a neat pun, in this case a pun on 'Cool Britannia'. Now, it should go without saying that the Sexual Offences Act was quite right. The fewer aspects of private behaviour that come under the purview of the law, the better. Hurray for that. Two anomalies have developed since then, however. The first one is that the notion of private behaviour has disappeared. Everyone's sexuality is now everybody else's business. And if you're not interested in celebrating the sexual acts of total strangers, you are on the wrong side of history. This is how decriminalisation has turned into 'Pride'. This is why all manner of activities, and indeed identities, are being pushed on children at ever younger ages. Decriminalisation was only the starting point, as it turns out, not an end. The goal has turned into the constantly receding rainbow end of 'exploring' not just 'how far we've come' but how far we can go - or at least how far we can go until the children thus educated murder and dismember their parents, as James Woods recently tweeted. The other anomaly that has developed in the last fifty years is the total equation of sex with love and love with sex. So for example there is the advert for "Gay Britannia", (shown immediately after Wimbledon and thus guaranteed a large viewership). This advert asks us to imagine a situation where being in love is illegal (or some such) while showing a couple of heterosexual old dears blamelessly waiting in a bus shelter together, but photographed as if they are on some incriminating CCTV footage. Or, another example, the cover of "The Week Junior" which I saw today in the supermarket. "The Week" for adults (the one I know) always has brilliant caricatures on its covers. I don't know what The 'Junior' edition usually depicts, but certainly the one in the stands right now is nothing to laugh about. It is a photo of wholesome-looking adults (and children, I believe) at a parade and wearing t-shirts of a recognisable Mickey Mouse shape rendered in rainbow colours. The title proclaims 'PRIDE' in big letters over the caption: "Londoners celebrate love for all". But in the words of the song, what's love got to do with it? Love has never been illegal, nor can it be criminalised. To think love and sex mean the same thing is to hold an unbelievably reductionist and false view of love. To teach this to children should make the responsible adults (using the terms loosely) feel ashamed of themselves. If sex and love are interchangeable then there is no disinterested love, no familial love, no Christian agape, and no Godly love that makes any sense except for the randy goings on of ancient gods, and the kinds of worship they demand including the associated delights of 'religious' prostitution, child sacrifice and what not. As I think I've written somewhere else, seeing how far we can go, as garden-variety sinful human beings, usually means ending up in the very same messes our predecessors worked so hard to get us out of.

Friday, 14 July 2017

Pink dresses and patriarchy

Oh dear, Ivanka Trump was on trend, fashion-wise, at the G20 Summit, working the colour of the season (pink) and 'statement' sleeves. But that was bad. Bad! Joan Walsh of MSNBC did not approve.
This pink dress with bows was unacceptably light, lovely, self-confident, playful, feminine. But bad, I tell you! Well, Ms Walsh, and women of your ilk, how about this: Ivanka has an affirming father, supportive brothers and a loving husband. She is so loved-up by her menfolk that she has no need to make herself dour and rebarbative. If such is the case, what on earth is wrong with that?

Sunday, 28 May 2017

Roger Moore, Bond of Bonds

Sir Roger Moore died this past week and it's very nice that commentators are now saying he was in their opinion the best Bond. This is my opinion too. He's my favourite partly because his twelve years of playing James Bond coincided with my formative pre-teen to adult years; more importantly, because he played Bond with easy humour and panache and by so doing made the rather daft character of Bond thoroughly likeable. And Moore's striking good looks and smooth and calming voice were only enhanced by the mischievous twinkle in his eye and the famous raised eyebrow(s) of his alleged limited acting skills. George Lazenby I don't remember much about, Sean Connery as Macho Bond was of course good in his way, Timothy Dalton was okay but hampered by having none of the magnetism of a movie star, Pierce Brosnan was lovely but his authority was never quite believable, and about the utterly humourless and dare I say ugly Bond of Daniel Craig the less said the better. Craig made Bond thoroughly un-likeable, to the point where it's hard to justify the continuation of the franchise except for those to whom it generates a lot of money.  Moore was apparently always pleased to be told by individuals that he had been their favourite Bond, good-naturedly settling for 'favourite' where others would have wanted 'best'. Let's not forget, however, that during his life he had to make do with being constantly panned for his Bond, usually at the same time as Connery was lauded as the definitive one. This point of view was so strongly promoted and endorsed by influential writers and in the media generally that to suggest one's preference for Moore was to risk being, figuratively, tarred and feathered and driven out of town. So hurray for the 'best Bond' opinions emerging now, but what a shame they were considered an affront to the critical consensus during Moore's lifetime.

Saturday, 27 May 2017

Manchester victims, Egyptian victims

In the wake of the atrocity in Manchester on Monday many commentators have spoken or written movingly of the 'children' or 'little girls' who were targeted. And this is right and proper: of the twenty-two fatalities, eight were aged 18 and under: one victim under 10, seven in the 14-18 range. All were female. However the next most affected age-range was 40-60. Seven victims were in this group, six of them female. So please let us also remember the parents and step-parents and aunties who were killed in addition to the minors, and not forgetting the four men and three women in the 19-30 age range. And while we're at it, let's be equally horrified at the twenty-eight or so men, women and children who were gunned down in Egypt this week. Coptic Christians on an innocent day trip, their bus was stopped by jihadis who ordered them to recite the Islamic shahada - the profession of faith that would have turned them into muslims according to islamic law. Those who refused to do so because of their loyalty to Christ were summarily executed. These victims deserve our outrage too.

Wednesday, 24 May 2017

Melania rocks the dress code

Melania Trump rocks. No, I don't mean for flicking her husband's hand away or fobbing off his other hand-holding attempt. I mean for declining to wear an islamic headscarf in Saudi Arabia but totally going for the traditional black dress and lace mantilla dress code when meeting the Pope. So refreshing to see this most unlikely of First Ladies prioritising the Church.

Terror threat 'critical', blah blah blah

So what if Mrs May orders armed police and military personnel into British cities? It's no more effective than locking the stadium door after the jihadi has gone in and detonated the nail bomb. What next: ban every citizen from carrying a bag, backpack or briefcase? Banning all concerts, or any other free assembly of pleasure-seekers? Mrs May could have made a point, instead, of securing entry points to the country when she was Home Secretary, not weakening them by cutting border staff and introducing flimsy electronic entry. As Prime Minister, she could stop contributing to the usual blather about a religion of peace and about carrying on as before. She could risk the wrath visited on Donald Trump - or worse wrath - by enforcing without delay a severe clampdown on any Muslim British citizen seeking to return to the country after a stay in a jihadi hotspot. That's what this latest citizen did and he sailed through customs without a hitch, even though he 'was known to the authorities' before he left. So, how about protecting the borders? That would be more useful than sending out a vast number of armed respondents to sweat in the current heatwave, with nothing more to do than act as a temporary visual deterrent.

Wednesday, 17 May 2017

"Three Girls" and a 'sexual health worker'

The first of three episodes of the BBC series "Three Girls" was shown last night and it was very disturbing viewing indeed, in fact some scenes were literally unwatchable. So while this blog entry is not made on the basis of my having seen every minute of the episode I think the general principle remains. And the general principle, in my view, is that it's not only the police and other law enforcement officials who failed the many, many girls of Rochdale (and Oxford etc): it's also feminism. Specifically, these countless young teens have been failed by feminism's war against 'the patriarchy'. It is simply not the case that you can shame and remove the guardianship of men over their daughters, and young girls in general, and usher in an age of benevolence and freedom. What you get instead is a different kind of 'patriarchy', one that moves in swiftly to exploit the free-ranging, unprotected girls who have been to made to think by feminism that they are empowered. You remove one constraint which you make believe is a horror and you get a real horror in its place. A horror so new, moreover, that you have no weapon or recourse against it for far too long. By warring against western 'patriarchy' feminism also begat family break-down on a disastrous scale. This in turn allowed for the shocking excuse - expressed by one social worker in yesterday's episode - that it's impossible to find a way of dealing with the abused girls because their domestic lives are so "chaotic". The father at house number 141, slunk in apathy on the sofa while his sons held an endless party around him, suggested the negative impact the abolition of proper fatherhood has had on boys too.  The destruction of fatherly guardianship has also allowed a society where underage sex is a commonplace, and nobody can do anything about it except dole out condoms. So we have Sara Rowbotham, who is obviously going to emerge as the heroine of the story. And who is Sara? She is a 'sexual health worker'. She is first seen providing free condoms to nerdy youths, no questions asked except for what size. She admonishes them however not to use the condoms simply for water-filled pranks. She wants them to be genuinely used for sex. That's it. Think of those words: sexual health worker. They're really not far enough away from 'sex worker' for comfort, are they? And 'health'? Making sure young people have access to condoms is not the same thing as sexual health. Sexual health is an invented term which is meaningless in the case of underage sex which by definition should not be happening at all. And yet here are the nice sexual health workers to manage the chaos of sexual free-for-all with a few boxes of rubbers. It's wonderful that the real Sara Rowbotham stood up for the Rochdale girls. It's just that the fact that it was a 'sexual health worker' who made a difference is in itself part of the ongoing problem.

Friday, 12 May 2017

Yoga storm in a church teacup

Also from yesterday's Daily Telegraph (I love day-old news, so much easier to deal with): a hamlet on the West coast of Wales is "shocked" by the fact that its local church does not want yoga classes in its community centre, on the grounds that yoga is "non-Christian" (Thursday 11 May 2017, page 9). Well, duh, of course it's non-Christian. As is tai-chi and tae-kwon-do, which are also implied to be a problem. As for what the article suggests are the other activities under contention, "cash prize bingo and the like" I could not possibly comment. The key point in the debate seems to me that this new community centre is part of the church itself, "converted" to the more secular interests of the "parishioners" as they are called in the article. But if the complainants were actual parishioners, people attending the church, supporting it and being involved in it, would part of St David's have had to be converted into a community centre? Isn't a church a community centre by definition? Not if no one's going, though. If the locals were attending and supporting the church they would know in what ways yoga and other eastern practices are legitimately non-Christian - or at least they wouldn't be so "shocked" that the Church holds this view. While some individual Christians can withstand activities or habits that are non-Christian - from practising yoga to watching "Game of Thrones" - that doesn't mean such things ought to be endorsed by any church in a general way.  There is no such thing as a "fair and non-biased community centre", as the denizens of Blaenporth apparently desire. There is always a set of values setting a limit to what can or cannot be indulged in: bomb-building classes would not be allowed anywhere, one suspects, even if demand were high. To complain that a church holds to Christian values is an intolerant view all its own.

UK police headgear, two perspectives

There was an interesting contrast on the subject of police headgear in yesterday's Daily Telegraph. On page 12 of the newspaper was a piece on how Northamptonshire Police were adopting a baseball cap design, like the forces of Cheshire and Lancashire before them. The new hats are called "Bump Caps" and unlike regular baseball caps they have a "reinforced internal frame". However they were not adopted primarily for their protective qualities. At least not for their protective qualities in the physical sense. Rather, they were adopted to protect the emotional sensitivities of any non-binary potential applicant to the police who is now protected from the terrible dilemma of having to choose between the traditional helmet (for men) or the bowler hat (for women). On page 19 of the paper, in the "Letters to the Editor", was a reader's account of having attended a seminar "with a group of refugees, Syrians, Chechens and Iraqis who had recently arrived in Britain." The three groups were asked what impressed them most about the country: all said the police. These new arrivals fully appreciated the fact that police here "do not steal from you, beat you up or intimidate you. Most are not even armed." Incidentally, anyone inclined to diss the police as a matter of course, either here or anywhere else in the West, would do well to reflect on this sobering perspective for a while. But the seminar attendees were also disappointed: they felt the police looked scruffy and overly casual, nothing like "the illustrations of helmeted officers in smart uniforms" they had expected from the photographs and illustrations they had seen over the years in their native countries.  As an immigrant myself, I'm with the refugees on this one. Britain, stop throwing away the iconic designs that still do contribute to your greatness.

Child endangerment poster

Is it just me or does this actress look like a child? And a gender-ambiguous child at that. Maybe there's a wider trend to de-gendering acting than the silliness of MTV awards: narrow the gap between men and women by featuring actresses  who look like children.  In the original "Alien" the whole point about Sigourney Weaver was that she was a woman. That's what made both her and her character memorable. The same could be said more recently about characters played by Jennifer Lawrence: though chubby-cheeked (like the person in this poster), Lawrence is unambiguously a woman. Who or what this character is I have no idea, but please let's get the poor child away from the monster.

'Best Actor'?

And speaking of plural language, there was the news a few days ago that Emma Watson had won MTV's new-fangled genderless acting award. 'Best Actor' and 'Best Actress' categories were dispensed with and replaced with one single category called, wait for it... 'Best Actor'. Hilariously, this progressive destruction of  'Best Actress' enshrines the allegedly sexist masculine plural, you know the one that oppressively encompasses the feminine as well.  There is no reason to give Emma Watson a 'Best' award for acting under any category, and especially not for "Beauty and the Beast", but the political idea MTV was presumably serving is just wrong. We don't call female doctors doctoresses or female lawyers lawyeresses because whether the doctor or lawyer is male or female makes no difference to the work they do. Acting, on the other hand, is an activity that is based entirely on the use of the person: body, appearance, voice, past experience, inner resources, everything. Whether that person is male or female is precisely the starting point of the activity, however much one would wish this reality away politically. Abolishing the category of 'actress' is in fact detrimental to all women who try to earn their living by acting because it fails to recognise the most basic quality they are bringing to their work.

Thursday, 27 April 2017

Plural language and the Trinity

Here is a quote from Nabeel Qureshi that delightfully ties in my points about French plural forms and knowing what the word Trinity refers to (previous post). It's from Qureshi's  2016 book No God But One; Allah or Jesus?, Chapter 6, the section entitled "The Trinity in the Bible":
"After emphasising that God created mankind in his image, the Bible then says he created them male and female. That's not to say God has genders, but it is to say that there is a plurality in his image. This is reflected in Scripture's use of him to refer to mankind, and then its switch to them. Mankind is in one sense singular, one humanity, but in another sense plural, composed of men and women. That is the image of God: both singular and plural. (p.58)
Who's to say that, far from being sexist, the French plural form in the masculine isn't in fact a glorious reflection of our status as divinely created and beloved beings?

Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Language use in France and Oxford

"The Times" today features articles on Macron's wife, as I discovered after posting the previous blog entry. The articles are advertised on the front page of the paper with the headline: 'The First Cougar?", which really catches the eye as a being nice and classy, doesn't it? Anyway the main article, written by Helena Frith Powell, starts out very positively by describing "the spring in every older Frenchwoman's step" caused by glamorous Brigitte Trogneux, the 64 year-old spouse of the presidential candidate. But the second paragraph begins: "France is an extremely sexist society. You have only to look at how the language is structured to see that. A group of men and women in a room become grammatically masculine." So would a group of foodstuffs, or plants, or whatever. It's gender (linguistic), not sex (physical, biological), that dictates the rule. What else is a language with gendered nouns and pronouns supposed to do with a group composed of both genders? I always thought it was a neat solution for the masculine plural to be made to encompass the feminine, whereas when you have a feminine plural you can be certain only feminine genders are being referred to. Simple! Further down in the article Frith Powell has no problem quoting Inès de la Fressange's reference to the country as a whole in the feminine: "France is showing her individualism". Is this traditional usage also wrong? Should men decry it as sexist? Traditional language use comes under fire elsewhere in the "times2" section. The columnist Robert Crampton comments on the silliness of Oxford University's recent warning to its (or 'her') students about how failure to make proper eye contact could be construed as a micro-aggression. Crampton rightly points out that youths arriving at University are not necessarily blessed with perfect social manners and beyond that, could find sustained eye contact difficult for a variety of reasons (he mentions shyness, introversion, mental health issues; to which one could add, learning difficulties, being anywhere on the autistic spectrum, plain kookiness and good old-fashioned eccentricity). But that's not enough for Crampton: he has to manufacture a grievance with Oxford for its use of traditional names to refer to the three terms of its academic year: Michaelmas, Hilary and Trinity (Trinity being the current term). "As if anyone knows what Trinity means!" rebukes Crampton. His advice to Oxford, so as to make everyone "feel more welcome", is to "ditch the whole embarrassing antiquated private-lingo nonsense." Right. So, does he know for a fact that those students from "unlikely backgrounds" feel micro-aggressed by the term names? If so, maybe the names of the Colleges are also a problem? How about the name 'Oxford' itself: too grand-sounding, too steeped in history for comfort? Where does such nonsense begin, and where would it end? As someone who came here in 1988 from a most unlikely background, I can vouch that learning the unwritten rules and the formal peculiarities of such an ancient university was far more of a strain than learning three new names. In fact those names can be seen as a plus, as different and interesting. Oxford Brookes University, up the hill in Headington, now operates a two-semester year, unimaginatively referred to as Semester 1 and Semester 2. Is that better and, if so, why? Discuss. I'm not sure in what way Crampton finds the traditional term names 'embarrassing'. 'Antiquated' means 'old, used here in a pejorative sense. Well, those names are old, but they are not 'private-lingo'. On the contrary, they are drawn from the social and church year, as they were observed by pretty much everyone in the country for hundreds of years. And far from being 'nonsense', they refer to dates and events everyone used to observe or at the very least know about. Michealmas:  the feast day of St Michael, September 29th, also marking one of the four 'quarter days' of the year when rents etc were due; Hilary: named after the feast day of St Hilary, January 14th; Trinity, the summer term: named after Trinity Sunday, the first Sunday after Pentecost, Jesus's promised gift of the Spirit after his Ascension, and thus celebrating the fullness of the Triune God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Mr Crampton might not believe in what the term names refer to, but what he should find embarrassing is the ignorance and chronological snobbery of his attack on them.

Macron's wife

If Emmanuel Macron is elected President of France there will be two trivial but irritating points to contend with over the next five years. 1) His surname will be mispronounced as 'Macrawn' or 'Macrone' in English-language media. He will join a list of people or characters whose name ends with an 'n' that ought to be silent, like Jean Valjean (Les Mis), Gaston (Beauty and the Beast), or Dion (French Canadian songbird Céline). This would not be a problem if Marine le Pen were elected, as the pronunciation 'le Penn' is correct in her case, unusually. 2) The age of his wife will be mentioned constantly - as the age of Melania never is, for example, even though the gap between the Trumps is roughly the same as between the Macrons (24 or 25 years). The key factor in the Macron marriage is that the wife is the elder. For all that we are browbeaten with the notion that love is love, and can withstand any permutation of orientation or identity in addition to race or social class, the notion of a young man loving and marrying a woman who is beyond child-bearing age continues to be problematic. Understandably so, but only if we allow that our instincts about what is right and what is icky or yucky have some validity. Of course we think a man should marry a woman of child-bearing age, because a woman's main currency as a marriage prospect is tied to her youth and her capacity to provide offspring. We all know this, and it's not a bad thing, even though it's now considered too politically incorrect to mention outright. But sometimes the woman a man loves does not fit into that role, and no, that doesn't necessarily mean the man is simply covering up his homosexuality by using the woman as a 'beard'. The majestic Derek Prince (1915-2003), inspirational Christian, Bible teacher extraordinaire and emphatically heterosexual, married a 55-year old woman when he was 30. And she was no oil painting, as the saying goes: plump, short, bespectacled, completely un-retouched aesthetically. He loved her because they spoke the same spiritual language and they made a great team. Their happy, successful marriage lasted until her death some thirty years later. Macron and his wife Brigitte likewise seem to speak the same language in a secular sense. Macron makes no secret of his reliance on her support. Come to think of it, would a younger woman be ready to support her husband as Brigitte does? Might that have something to do with it also? Obviously he should not be elected in order to make a case for older women as worthy wives, but such a case could be a positive footnote to his potential presidency. The worst scenario would be that such a footnote is the best one can hope for from a candidate who seems content to describe the 'terrorist menace' as reliably ongoing and who once said French society was partly responsible for the terrorism it has already endured.

Friday, 21 April 2017

"Beauty and the Beast"

Coming late to the party on this one, although it turns out to be a very good Easter Week movie, what with the death and resurrection theme of everything being cursed and/or dying being made whole and/or alive again. So top marks in the happy endings category. Lots of nice things to be said too about the look of the movie in general and how dazzling the set pieces are, and how engagingly the animated furniture is depicted and voiced. Some of the singing is gorgeous. The unacknowledged hero is the horse named Philippe (which means lover of horses). Philippe goes from cart-horse to swift and elegant saddle horse without missing a beat; he can survive on his own outside the palace in the snow and be ready to gallop away at a moment's notice, and indeed gallop back; he stands up to wolves, understands English and could probably make a cup of tea if Mrs Potts were ever to take a break. My beef with the film is with the 'B' characters: Belle and the Beast. Belle, as everyone knows, is played by Emma Watson. She is excellent casting in the sense of being familiar to hundreds of millions of potential viewers from her long-term starring role in the Harry Potter franchise. She is also perhaps 'blank' enough in her acting abilities for those viewers to superimpose themselves onto her portrayal and therefore successfully invest themselves in the movie. But by the same token - to me at any rate - she still looks like a child. A slip of a girl, with no stature and, even worse, with no deportment. She clomps around in lace-up ankle boots, slouching and lumpen. Granted she does try hard in the ballrooms scenes to move more gracefully but it's too little too late. The damage has been done: she is just not believable as a beauty. And by the way, the word 'Belle' does not mean 'beauty', as per one of the songs: it's the adjective 'beautiful', in the feminine gender. It was only when Plumette, the peacock-like feather duster, was on screen that I was able to bask in the beautifulness advertised in the title. All the more so when Plumette becomes, at the end, the lovely Gugu Mbatha-Raw. The Beast, for his part, is far too handsome. We are told in the narration early on that the selfish brat of a prince was cursed by being transformed into "a hideous beast". We're told that, we're not shown it. The Beast's impressively masculine physique is built on harmonious lines, he has an expressive face (more than Belle's almost), lovely eyes and is apparently clean and nice-smelling. Stinking rich, of course, which doesn't count as a repulsive trait. Moreover his curse is something of a blessing in that it has turned him from a selfish fop into a well-read, sensitive soul who has gratitude for his "expensive education". What's not to like? It was only in deference to the teenage girls I was with at the cinema that I didn't burst out laughing at the Beast's transformation back into a man. 'Man' is putting it too strongly. Poor Dan Stevens, deprived of his ten-inch stilts and his Beastly bearing, emerges as a dishevelled long-haired blond, looking tiny and faintly embarrassed to be there. The close-up on his pink dewy skin and bright blue eyes accentuates the contrast with his Beast get-up. This makes him come across as more feminine than Belle. She is meant to be delighted with his new look. I would have had her adapt Cogsworth's line and tell her prince: 'Turn back into a Beast! Turn back into a Beast!'. Eventually she does ask him if he would consider growing a beard, which only provokes a cheesy response. The fuss (no doubt a self-serving fuss) about the gayness of one of the characters was misleading. There are two gay characters, and they duly recognise each other as part of the happy finale. More importantly, it's what appears to be the deliberate feminisation of the male lead that is the problem with this otherwise spectacular film.

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

Sex education's destination

Ah, bliss, springtime in the British Isles. The sun is shining, the birds are twittering, the lambs are frolicking - and the National Union of Teachers (aptly acronymed the NUT) are calling for children to be taught about Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual Transgender Plus issues from the age of two onwards. Bless their little eyes, how sweet! How enlightened! Because it's not good enough that there is already a proposal of 'sex and relationship education' (SRE) aimed at those tiny young children, approved by parliament. Oh no: the proposal has to be made 'inclusive'. Inclusive of parents who don't want their children mentally and emotionally abused by matters far too mature for them? No, the parents can go hang. Rather: inclusive of a minuscule, statistically insignificant, proportion of late teens and adults in the wider society who may not have the sexual orientation or 'identity' of their biological sex. This news I read in "The Times" yesterday. Today's "Times" gives a sense of context with a photo of 'Slogans for sale' at a NUT stall at the convention in Cardiff: 'We Are All Children of Immigrants' (patently untrue); 'Still Hate Thatcher' (why?); 'A Woman's Place is in the Union' (really?); 'This is What a Trade Unionist Looks Like' (so?); 'This is What a Feminist Looks Like' (ditto); 'Rock Against Racism' (how?). There are badges and leaflets, but the slogans quoted above appear on what look suspiciously like coasters, bizarrely, those despised middle-class weapons against ring marks on the coffee table. Be that as it may, and we must allow radicals to care about their furniture as much as the next person, the statement that struck me most from yesterday's article was one where the NUT vice-president asserts that though the provision of SRE to even very young children can be hailed as a 'victory',  there is "still a long, long way to go." Not just a long way, according to her, but a long, long way. A long way - to where? What destination can this teacher be referring to? She either has no practical idea of what she means beyond wanting to feel the glow of a desire to break down every last shred of conventional morality, or she is actively plotting a society where everything, including families, small children and every last notion of innocence, is excluded from and sacrificed to the society of her dreams. Should we ever get to that destination, I suspect that people like her will the first to complain that it's an appalling place to live.

Monday, 17 April 2017

Jenner's cutting remark

Bruce Jenner was a hero of the 1976 Olympics in my hometown of Montreal. He won the gold medal in the decathlon, a discipline that is specifically for men. He was married at the time but then divorced and subsequently married and divorced twice again He produced two children with each of his three wives. By any calculation that makes him a father of six. Perhaps by some estimations that makes him something of a patriarch. Bruce Jenner is no more, however. A search of his name re-directs the searcher to Caitlyn Jenner because that's how he chooses to identify himself. He had a ten-hour facial feminisation procedure and acquired implanted breasts two years ago, in addition to some hormone treatment (I think). Since then he/she has been much in the news and entertainment complex, boasting some fabulous wigs, artful make-up and expensive attire. Well ok, no harm done, right?  Besides everyone else having to readjust their understanding of reality, maybe not, although how readjusting one's understanding of reality weighs up against one person's understanding of their identity is in fact a huge question and not one that necessarily leads to sweetness and light by any means. The big news now, though, is that Bruce/Caitlyn has this year undergone surgery to remove his male genitalia, and presumably replace it with a semblance of the female opposite. This is what was until five minutes ago called gender reassignment surgery and is now referred to as 'gender confirmation surgery'. This news was accompanied by a quote from Jenner on the organ he calls "just a penis", the one he had chopped off. Here is the quote: "It has no special gifts or use for me other than what I have said before, the ability to take a whiz in the woods." Er, hang on a minute. First of all, in what universe are women incapable of taking 'a whiz in the woods'? (Dismissing as unworthy the other questions that pop up, to wit, how many times did Bruce Jenner actually have to take a whiz in the woods? Was it a regular occurrence? Will Caitlyn now avoid woods for the rest of her life?) Secondly and, of course, more importantly, are we meant to blot from our minds the truth that Jenner's male genitalia engendered six other human beings, all still bearing his name (except for one married daughter as far as I can tell)? No "special gifts", are you kidding? No "use"? The context is meant, I suppose, to be one where the glories of his progenitive power are in the past and now considered to be surplus to requirement. But it seems a bit hard on his children. And even if they all come out in support of their father spouting such nonsense it makes the readjustments to reality for the rest of us that much harder still.

Friday, 24 March 2017

An Islamic reformation?

Well-meaning people often seek to excuse the Islamism on show in every terror event in the West (last port of call: London) by saying that what Islam needs is a reformation. Then, the implication is, all will be sweetness and light and Islam and the West will live peacefully side by side, or even intertwined. The reference, never clearly stated, is to the Christian Reformation that occurred in the 16th century in continental Europe and the British Isles. This Reformation was a movement to recover the truths of the Bible from under the accretions of the Roman Catholic Church. It aimed to hark back to a purer form of Christianity than what prevailed at the time, which had grown in tandem with the Papacy and with widespread political power. The reference is meant to be a positive one: I mean look at how kindly Christianity has accommodated itself to the secularising world since its Reformation. Admirable! An example to be imitated! Such are the undercurrents of this stated hope for Islamic renewal.  But this is misguided, and a completely wrong interpretation of the current situation. For the reformation of Islam is before us now; it is exactly what is unfolding year in, year out in the main cities of the West. It is precisely what we try to distinguish as 'Islamism'. In many countries in the 19th and 20th centuries Islam had grown into a mellow religion with a high tolerance for secularism and for Western decadence. Islamic reformation says enough of that, thank you very much. The Al-Qaeda and Isis type of return to the Koran calls the faithful to embrace their roots in the literal origins of Islam, and rediscover its unyieldingly militaristic and terroristic DNA. When well-meaning people indulge in this reference to Christian history, they gloss over the bloodshed, violence, destruction and martyrdoms the Reformation resulted in over several decades. No doubt they can look at the ruins of any given abbey or monastery and see prettiness, rather than the desecration, despoliation and very often murder that were necessary to produce these ruins. The 21st century Jihad against the West (and indeed unreformed Muslims) is the same sort of thing. But along with subjugating the moderates within Islam itself, its stated aim is to overthrow an entire foreign civilisation, namely ours. Please let's refrain from dreaming of an Islamic reformation: we are already having it.  

Thursday, 16 March 2017

Ovaries, rosaries

Irish abortion advocates are pushing to repeal the 8th amendment which protects the rights of the unborn child. If they can do this while further weakening to influence of the Catholic Church, all the better. In the Canadian province of Québec where I come from, which also used to be very Catholic,  the push for secularism and feminism happened a few decades ago. We humans are so unoriginal in our tendencies that naturally the same sort of process is now happening in Ireland. It didn't make women happier or kinder in Québec. Greater spiritual well-being is not what happens when basic facts are suppressed or denied. Of course women are people - who is stating otherwise? But yes, we are vessels for other people. This is known as pregnancy. It's an observable fact - and an awesome one - that women have this capacity. Nothing is gained by turning it into a bogus war between the made-up opponents of people vs vessels. As for rosaries and ovaries, you would think that the rosary and the cult of Mary generally are just about the most sympathetic friends any ovary could possibly wish for, based on a woman generating the Saviour of the world and all that. But mustn't let that get in the way of a neat catchphrase or a trendy poster. 

Monday, 6 March 2017

Mighty Muir

Anyone in need of a mood boost could do worse than look up footage of GB athlete Laura Muir elegantly powering her way to European Indoor Championship gold medals this past weekend in both the 1500m and 3000m  - and almost incidentally breaking records. Also inspiring are her record-breaking performances earlier this year. The woman is on fire. And she loves animals: living an otherwise regular life, in Glasgow, studying to be a vet. You go, girl.

Tuesday, 28 February 2017

Hollywood royalty

The difference between good royalty and bad royalty is accountability. The senior members of the British royal family quietly go about doing countless deeds of service to their country. The cost of maintaining the royals - or maybe it was just the Queen - has been calculated as amounting to as little as 53 pence per citizen per year. At the other end you have royalty that takes and takes and does not give back. This was how France's last King, Louis XVI, was perceived, and his young Austrian wife Marie Antoinette, before they were both executed in 1793. This is the kind of royalty that says: 'let them eat cake' in response to the populace starving for lack of bread. Marie Antoinette most probably never said that, but it encapsulates an attitude and so it lives on. To this bad kind of royalty we must now add Hollywood royalty. For several years now they have been openly contemptuous of the plebs who pay to see their products and hence make their inflated salaries possible. The other night at the Oscars, their attitude could not have been clearer. Privileged celebrity after privileged celebrity derided the concerns of the common man. They portrayed themselves as essential (the once brilliant Viola Davis, now overblown with fame and adulation) or as 'migrant workers' (Mexican Gael Garcia Bernal) who, by implication, feel the pain of the working man. 'Let them have no walls or borders' said the diminutive Bernal, in response (presumably) to the genuine concerns about immigration, sovereignty and security that were partly responsible for the election of Donald Trump, their great figure of hate, the Louis XVI of the chattering classes.  And then there was the disgusting stunt with the plebs themselves, a carefully orchestrated 'impromptu' moment when a group of forelock-tugging - sorry, I mean smart phone-wielding - tourists from flyover country were ushered into the super-privileged gathering of movie stars to gawp and marvel, and to be marvelled at in turn by the celebrities as if they were dear little creatures from a travelling zoo. There was no difference between this stunt and Marie Antoinette's 'Petit Trianon', her theme park replica of peasant life on the grounds of the Palace of Versailles: a pastiche of 'real life' for those who no longer know - or have never known - what that is, contrived and tightly controlled so it poses no threat whatsoever, as real life so often does. Marie Antoinette had the grace to grow in stature and understanding during her harsh imprisonment before execution. Hollywood royals, who unlike their 18th century predecessors, have access to all the means of modern communication, could be afforded the same redemptive opportunity by a simple expedient: us plebs boycotting their products. Viewing figures for this year's Oscars suggest there might already be a trend in that direction.

Thursday, 16 February 2017

The limits of atheism

Dave Cullen, one of my favourite alternative media voices posted this video the other day. It was partly in response to another favourite, Black Pigeon Speaks, who was answering a question from a viewer about the 'holographic universe' espoused by some tech people who have finally reached the all-too obvious limits of materialism and are now making up their own Creation stories. This is an excellent video, well reasoned and genuinely tolerant. It's also an encouraging indication that the self-righteous fad of 'New Atheism' may have run its course; that the hatred of Christianity which has afflicted the West for generations has perhaps peaked and also reached its natural limit. To deny the spiritual reality of life is so illogical and unobservant it cannot possibly stand for very long. Yet by now it's stood long enough to imperil the whole of Western civilisation. For those who now realise that Western civilisation has left itself wide open to being overtaken by, and subsumed under, militant Islam please note there is no secularism on earth that can resist such a force. Spiritually speaking, only Christ can stand against Islam. That is why Islam all over the world proclaims that Jesus is not the Son of God and the Saviour five times a day, day in day out, week in week out, month after month, year after year, century after century. For the West to proclaim the virtues of hedonistic secularism, let alone identity politics and the SJW mentality, against a foreign religious ideology that is on the war path is like holding up bits of straw to fend off a tsunami. Civilisation emerges out of religion. Civilisation cannot survive without religion, of one kind or another. Western atheists need to wake up to this fact. The more they kick against Christ the more, inadvertently or purposefully, they open the door to Mohamed.

Sunday, 22 January 2017

Why the women marched

Ladies of the world, keep calm and learn something. All that's happened is that you've been rumbled. You've been found out. One man you disapprove of is inaugurated into a position of great power and that's all it takes for you to acknowledge what you pretend is not true.  For all the world to see, you now implicitly agree to the following. 
1.White men do matter. 2. The US is a beacon to the world and it also matters. 3. Women are women. 4. The colour pink (see images of marches) is a universally recognised symbol of the female sex, never mind its appropriation by gay rights. 5. Women have traditionally learned how to do things like knit, crochet and sew, which are jolly good skills to have (see below, 'Pussy Hat Project').

The Women's March on Washington D.C. is happening January 21, 2017! The Pussyhat Project launched Thanksgiving weekend! As of now, we have 4 days to knitcrochet, and sew 1.17 million pink pussyhats. Join the movement

6. Chivalry matters; it is shameful for men to speak crudely about women. 7.  There is no 'equality'; an equal-opportunity loud mouth like Donald Trump must be shamed specifically in regards to certain  groups 8. Women discriminate against men: Trump is neither suave enough (like Bill Clinton) nor deemed sexy enough (any pop or rock star) to get away with crude boasting uttered years ago in private though the favoured men could easily have indulged in it too, probably did, probably do. 9. Feminism hates successful men; why else would it revolt against a man who is surrounded by apparently happy and empowered, intelligent and beautiful women, both in his own family and at work? A man who was voted for by women too? 10.  The infamous 'grab them' comment - presumably the biggest trigger for the marches and 'pussy hats' - was correct. Yes, I'm afraid this worldwide 'movement' of women against Trump looks like a classic instance of protesting-too-much. Any woman who denies that we women can be complete tarts for a powerful male is a liar; or who disregards that a woman will prostitute herself for any sort of power. Hence the ubiquity, after decades of feminism, of women baring their flesh and promoting their sexual availability for gain, for career, for social media status, for all of the above and just basically at the drop of a hat if it will get them some attention. This truth is sad and complicated in its origins but the mere fact that it is truth is so uncomfortable, it sits so awkwardly with the demand for sexual respect rather than the earning of sexual respect, that it must be shouted down as loudly as possible, with as much irrational anger as possible.  And that's what the marches were in a nutshell: irrational shouting and anger. You've come  a long way, baby, from wanting to be valued as rational, but it's not a way forward.

Wednesday, 18 January 2017

When you're famous you can grab them

Image result for joe biden, amal clooney

Has anyone fashionable commented on this photo of soon-to-be-former-Vice-President Joe Biden and Amal Clooney at Davos? Biden is the creepiest of serial touchers and gropers in US public life, yet as far as I know hardly, if ever, gets called out for it by the bien-pensants. This proprietal double hand grip on Mrs Clooney's, and the smarmy, condescending facial expression that goes with it, is proper 'yuk' territory. It ought to make anyone's blood boil. Get your hands off her, you creep! - should be the most polite response. So what, exactly, is Mr Clooney doing there in the background? Apparently finding something else so hilarious that he sees no problem with his wife being treated this way. I'll be happy to find a follow-up photo showing Clooney breaking up the Biden grab with outraged gusto - but somehow doubt there is one.

Friday, 13 January 2017

C.H. Spurgeon quote

Extract from Spurgeon's commentary on Job 36: 2: "I have yet to speak on God's behalf' (or 'there is more to be said on God's behalf'). Very good for those of us who are "of a nervous temperament and of retiring disposition" (bless!) and, for everyone, a reminder that the personal relationship we have with God through Christ in the power of the Spirit is only one facet of a Good News of the Kingdom that is also communal, universal and eternal.

"A Christian is not to be a village in a valley, but 'a city set upon a hill'; he is not to be a candle under a bushel, but a candle in a candlestick, giving light to all. Retirement may be lovely in its season, and to hide one's self is doubtless modest, but the hiding of Christ in us can never be justified, and the keeping back of truth which is precious to ourselves is a sin against others and an offence against God. If you are of a nervous temperament and of retiring disposition, take care that you do not too much endulge this trembling propensity, lest you should be useless to the church."

Thursday, 12 January 2017

Slouchy Betty

When grunge and heroin chic became fashionable in the 1990s fashion ceased to be interesting. Who were these clothes meant for? What was meant to be appealing about the slouching posture with which they were advertised? Now Sweaty Betty, the sportswear company aimed exclusively at women, are at it too. They used to feature models who had some posture, on the whole, and looked like they could be sporty, or else models who were genuine ballet dancers or yoga practitioners - as it's impossible to fake those activities. Their current campaign poster features a woman who looks like she couldn't lift a plate of peas. And if, despite appearances, she is athletic, then why style her so hideously?Image result for sweaty betty, posters

Wednesday, 11 January 2017

The all-consuming self

Leisurely browsing the magazine racks of our local Waitrose yesterday, disposable cup of free capuccino in hand, my attention was caught by a National Geographic Special Issue on "The Shifting Landscape of Gender" entitled "Gender Revolution". The cover showed a group of young people where each person was arrayed in painstakingly chosen indie chic and ink, and each labelled with their preferred gender indentity. These young people are cool, the cover implies, they are the future: get used to it. In the tier behind this Special Issue was a "Special Publication" issue, also from National Geographic, with the title: "Jesus and the Origins of Christianity". That cover was an artist's rendition of the trial of Jesus ("Ecce Homo" by Antonio Ciseri), with the Saviour mournfully looking down and away from the baying crowd below as Pilate gesticulates towards them, those pesky Jews, asking what what to do with The Man. The unambiguous answer, as we know from elsewhere, was 'Crucify Him!'. Thus, two unrelated National Geographic covers, displayed at Headington Waitrose,  encapsulate the current state of the West. Jesus, the only sure proof against the ragings of the unchecked self, is now the only 'Other' the West does not want to know. We Westerners are now those pesky Jews yelling 'get rid of Him!'. Every other 'Other' is good and welcome, so long as it (or whatever pronoun) can shore up the self in the illusion of its own goodness. The true Other, who takes you out of your self and highlights every single flaw in your self, can go back to where He came from, thank you very much: over there, in that battle-hardened parcel of land called Israel. And frankly, He can disappear from there or thereabouts too. The origins of Christianity, and Christians, are being eliminated from the lands surrounding Israel and possibly now in Israel, and the West could care less. The irony of these juxtaposed magazines in the midst of supermarket consummables - including the disposable cup and the 'free' coffee - is that it shows up the current crop of 'rights' as fundamentally consumer-driven. Once you go beyond obvious, scientifically provable characteristics such as race and sex (i.e. male or female), everything becomes 'I want' rather than 'I am'. Gay marriage wants to consume the accoutrements of traditional marriage; transgender wants to consume the stuff aimed at the opposite sex; the make-it-up-as-you-go-along 'gender revolution' wants to pick and choose from everything and anything like there's no tomorrow. This is all behaviour, not fact (unlike race and sex). Now, 'to consume' might sound like a benign thing to do, but at root it isn't. Consumption involves destruction, is by definition destruction. Trees were destroyed to print those magazines. Fuel was burned up to deliver them, for example. That's fine, the world is a big place. Resources can be managed. The problem with 'I want' behaviour rights is that they consume society itself. In order to elevate the consumer choice of the individual to such nonsensical depths of nature, science and language as choosing your own gender identity, institutions must be laid low. Law, public order, Church, marriage, a consensus of morality - including the notion that childhood innocence is worth protecting, even a consensus on reality itself: all must feed this 'revolution'. Bizarrely, many of the institutions go along with this (like National Geographic). Or, like law, Church etc, they actively seek their own immolation out of misplaced excitement at what appears new and therefore, it is assumed, better. So what we have are right-on people who would be outraged at the destruction of a far-away habitat rejoicing in the destruction of the social and cultural habitat that made their own lives possible. Here is Merriam-Webster's entry on the verb 'to consume':

Those Synonyms and Related Words are fearsome because they testify to the harsh reality of living in the Fallen world, the world as we know it. On the other hand, the "Antonyms" and "Near Antonyms" listed here testify to all the work that needs to be done - daily, consistently, gratefully - in order to offset the one-way direction of destruction. And those are beautiful words. The aggressive colonisation of daily life by made-up 'rights' requires there to be no tomorrow. Consumer identity gone rogue prevents the possibility of sufficient renewal and replacement to hand on a sane and healthy environment to our children. My browsing episode yesterday (much briefer than this post suggests) was capped by an unassuming publication lurking at the end of the magazine rack: the Dec 2016/Jan 2017 issue of something called "BBC World Histories". Its cover story: "Has the tide of history turned against the west?" Time will tell whether it has. Meanwhile, to change metaphors, there is a terrible concerted effort in throwing the West overboard.