Friday, 29 January 2010

Paternity leave

I have been trawling through various newspaper articles about the planned increase to paternity leave. It seems eminently sensible to me if the country is really serious about fathers playing more part in the upbringing of their children. Many men - and women - seem to be against it, because of the cost to small employers. People are always commenting that they run a business and they refuse to employ women of child bearing age because of maternity leave - so what are they going to do now when fathers can take time off too? Added to which such blatant discrimination is illegal. I'm in favour of this proposal as it goes some way towards redressing men's complaints about the inequity between them and women.

The cost to employers is actually only in the hassle of employing a replacement as for the small employers Statutory Maternity Pay and presumably the male equivalent is refunded by the Government - plus a premium for their trouble. The Scandinavians manage it so why shouldn't this country?

Saturday, 23 January 2010

Women committing crimes

Does anyone out there really have a problem with the fact that women commit crimes as well as men? I certainly don't. Yet every time there is a story in the news about a woman committing a serious crime or being found guilty of child abuse there are always people commenting about feminism and how it assumes women do not commit crimes - especially against children. The comments read to me like children in the playground saying 'But she did it too, Miss. Punish her, Miss.'

The authorities - police, the courts, social workers etc - DO NOT automatically assume when faced with a woman that she must be innocent. Why should they? Yes there are a lot fewer women in prison that there are men and that could be for any number of reasons. Fewer murders are committed by women than men - fact. Fewer violent crimes are committed by women - though the levels are rising - fact. What about so-called white collar crimes? Here I'm not sure though I suspect here the numbers may be more nearly equal. Violence in general requires superior physical strength - at least in relation to the victim - though add a weapon to the mix and the odds are changed.

Brains are what is needed for fraud of any description - or extreme luck. But men always say they are much cleverer than women - because they have larger brains. Well yes they have larger bodies so you just might expect their brains to be in proportion. Does that mean they're more intelligent? The level of intelligence tends to me more extreme in men - either stupid or genius; women are more in the middle of the spectrum - see Susan Pinker's book - Sexual Paradox. So do more men or women commit crimes not involving violence? I don't know but I think it might be interesting to find out.

This post was prompted by the timesonline article about the lady who made her child ill deliberately.

Friday, 22 January 2010


I am currently reading Susan Faludi's Backlash. It was published in 1993 but still makes frightening reading as you can see similar things happening today. The media presents an even narrower selection of acceptable roles for women and dictates far more what is an acceptable appearance for women to present to the world. Nearly every week there are heartfelt testimonies from high flying women who have given up their careers to look after children. The sub text of such articles is always that the only acceptable role for women is as wives and mothers.

In my opinion there is a 21st century backlash against women who step out of line. Women are held responsible for the prevalence of anti social behaviour of children. Women are responsible for men not staying in marriages. Women want too much from life. Women are always criticising men and emasculating them. You shouldn't criticise you should support everything they do and give up your own interests if that's what they want.

Women disadvantage their children because they work outside the home. Strange how a child can grow up well behaved and adjusted when it only sees its father briefly in the evenings when he comes home tired from work, but the same child will be an anti-social thug if he/she only sees the mother for the same length of time. Something not very logical here.

I would urge everyone to read Backlash in the hope we can stop the backlash happening again. The interviews with the New Right campaigners in the USA are masterpieces of irony and show these women for the hypocrites they are. In nearly every case these women are campaigning for women to return to the home and yet their own lives are examples of feminist principles. Husband at home looking after the kids when they're on the campaign trail, sharing household chores etc. They make marvellous reading.

Wednesday, 20 January 2010

Men need women

I have read twice in the last couple of days the suggestion that men find life very difficult if women are independent because it means women are no longer dependent on them. Men therefore cannot have a meaningful role if women are not submissive and obedient.

Oh right - I see - one half of the population need the other half to be in a state of mental ill health in order for them to have satisfying lives and to be sure of their role. That to me says women have changed in their expectations and lifestyles but men haven't. They're still expecting to be the breadwinner in the family and to come home to a cooked meal on the table and all the household chores done by the self effacing wife who gets her personal satisfaction by waiting on him and their children hand and foot.

If this sort of arrangement suits both people then I have no problems with it but many of us don't want that set up and it was for us that the early campaigners fought - so that we could have choices about our lives. It seems we are slipping back towards women's only acceptable role is that of homemaker and man's only acceptable role is that of masterful head of the family.

Monday, 18 January 2010

The Sex-Change Society

The Sex-Change Society: Feminised Britain and the Neutered Male by Melanie Phillips was published in 1999 but I've only just come across it. I started reading it last night and even though I've only read the introduction she has already annoyed me. The whole of her argument seems to be that men have been marginalised and that easy divorce has encouraged women to dispense with men completely. She seems to forget divorce can be initiated by either sex. Even though she talks about no fault divorce it is still not possible to obtain a divorce without attributing blame unless you wait for 2 years' separation - which most people don't do because they want it all sorted out quicker than that. So you still have to allege adultery, unreasonable behaviour or desertion.

I fail to see how this can benefit only women. She also says the benefits system encourages women to do without men. Even though she gives examples of irresponsible men she doesn't seem to draw the conclusion that men benefit from the welfare state which will pay to bring up their children if they don't choose to stay around. She seems to be saying the current legal system forces human beings to make these choices.

Why doesn't she attribute blame to the individuals rather than the system? Just because the opportunity is there doesn't mean people have to take it. People could work at their marriages instead of bailing out at the first hint of trouble. Contraception is free and could be used by either party. You cannot blame the system for individual's bad choices.

Sunday, 17 January 2010

When is rape not rape?

Apparently when you've fantasised on the Internet about group sex. You are visited by a man - who you have agreed to have sex with - who brings along 4 friends - who then all proceed to have sex with you - without your consent. But that is not rape because you fantasised about something similar. This case - which never got as far as a trial because at the last minute the prosecution barrister decided to offer no evidence when he had been told about the victim's online fantasy. This case has been widely reported - certainly on blogs - and is the subject of a blog post on on 13 January 2010.

I can understand that the fact someone had fantasised about group sex might make them a less credible witness from a legal perspective; but if you're going to take into account the victim's publicly stated fantasies then surely the accused's fantasies ought to be taken into account and the sort of pornographic web sites they've looked at prior to the offence. Just because you've done something before and like the idea of it doesn't mean it's all right for someone to force the same thing on you without your consent in the future.

I did find some of the comments on the F Word blog post offensive as well as they were saying men should not be able to express a point of view on the site. Why not? If equal rights are ever to achieve their aims there has to be open debate about all the issues by everyone. To dismiss all men as trolls does not further anyone's cause.

Saturday, 16 January 2010

Living Dolls

Natasha Walter has a new book out next month called Living Dolls:The Return of Sexism. It appears to cover an area I have become increasingly interested in over the last few months. Women can aspire to do almost anything in the world of work but they must conform to an ever narrowing version of female beauty. I shall look forward to reading it when it is available and will post a review of it on here next month.
So have we managed to escape the original range of stereotypes only to find ourselves encased in yet another straight jacket? I would say this stereotype is every bit as limiting as all the previous ones. Are we reverting to the old ideas of women being decorative and not very intelligent? Really? If we are what can we do about it? I can sympathise with the Pink Stinks ( campaign but I believe they are misguided in focusing on one colour. The colour is a symbol not the cause of the malaise which affects women and girls at the moment.

Friday, 15 January 2010

Why is Feminism a dirty word?

Were feminists really as bad as opponents say they were? If so it completely passed me by. Germaine Greer for example - if you read her work with any degree of objectivity at all - is never anti men. She is anti a system which disadvantaged women which coincidentally happened to have been set up mainly by men - which is not the same thing at all.

The only writer and feminist I can find who was outspoken in her desire to rid the world of men was Valerie Solanas who wrote one slim book - The SCUM Manifesto. When you consider the extreme pornography which portrays women as expendable and only useful for beating up and maiming; when you read comments on news stories on the websites of reputable newspapers such as the Telegraph and the Times which suggest women should return to the domestic role because that's all they're fit for you wonder who really hates who.

I am currently reading Susan Faludi's monumental work Backlash which details the opposition to feminism in the late 1980s and early 1990s in both America and Britain. The book makes frightening reading. It seems with recession comes renewed opposition to any sort of equality. The media is currently full of the ideal housewife and how to make yourself look good for your husband. Articles about always making sure your husband is well fed and looked after if you want to stay married and blaming women for the break up of all relationships. Nothing aimed at men telling them how to keep women happy. Women are supposed to put everyone else's interests before their own and accept bad behaviour from the men in their lives because they are so stressed and not used to women answering back.

Which really paints men as the sex which is unable to deal with any sort of change and the only thing which will get society back on an even keel is women going back to the domestic sphere and leaving the world of work to the men. So what about all these menial jobs that men consider it beneath their dignity to do? Just who is going to do those then?

Thursday, 14 January 2010

Working V Non-Working mothers

Why do we have this war between working and non-working mothers? What is wrong with people making choices which suit their circumstances? When Feminism first started - even way back in the 18th century - it was all about giving women choices and opportunities. It was never about putting women in a straight jacket and telling them the only roles they could take up were wife and mother or alternatively career woman.

If you think about it logically, bringing up children is the only job where 'experts' say the untrained and inexperienced person - i.e. the mother - is the best person to do the job. In nursing untrained nurses are not let loose on the patients. You can't go and work in a shop without being given some training. No one would want an untrained solicitor. And yet any young girl who has a child is expected to be the best person to bring up that child without any experience or training.

Then of course there are all the comments about why have children and let someone else care for them. If that person is trained and experienced - e.g. a Norland nanny - who is the better person to do the job? The mother, whose abilities may lie in other directions entirely, or the highly trained professional? Not everyone can afford nannies but too few people consider employing a nanny between them to spread the cost. Nurseries seem in the main to do a good job, in spite of the horror stories you hear about them.

Would society's problems be solved overnight if all working mothers gave up their jobs and went back home to look after their children? I suspect not.

Wednesday, 13 January 2010

Domestic violence

I have been reading extensively about feminism in recent months. I have also been reading about its opposite - though I'm not sure what name anyone would give to it. What bothers me about some areas of feminism today is that it is founded on the idea of women being victims and therefore entitled to special treatment. I don't subscribe to this theory. There is nothing more annoying than a victim.

The idea of women as victims is nowhere more visible than in the emotive problem of domestic violence. Violence in relationships is not just a women's issue. Men can be victims of it too. This does not mean I am criticising women and saying domestic violence against women does not exist. I am saying it does exist but women can be aggressors as well as victims. Feminism seems reluctant to accept women can be violent - to other women, to men and to their children. I have personally experienced incidents in which I could quite easily have been violent - but I walked away from the situation rather than do something I knew I would regret.

Feminism does itself no favours when it denies women can be violent and provision for those affected by domestic violence needs to encompass men as well as women. Why exclude battered men from refuges? If they are traumatised themselves they are hardly going to be a danger to women. Or are we saying women in refuges are anti-men or see all men as potential assailants? Is the tension between men and women so bad they need to be segregated in this manner? Society needs to face up to the reality that domestic violence is a problem that needs addressing - whoever it affects - and that men can be victims too.