11 November 2006

And the aim of this campaign is . . . surely not promiscuity

Re: Condom call for young 'on pull'. BBC News. 11 Nov 2006.

While I agree that advocating the use of condoms is a wise measure, especially to prevent stds, the way this is being gone about in this BBC article is questionable. There are new sexual freedoms in society today that just weren't there 30 years ago. Although this article claims not to be advocating promiscuity, it also says,

"The aim of this campaign is to make carrying and using a condom among this age group as familiar as carrying a mobile phone, lipstick or putting on a seat-belt."

So there is a dual message here, not just about STIs and condoms, but about sex itself.

If that isn't encouraging promiscuity, then what is? Practically all young people carry a mobile phone, and I would imagine most young women wear lipstick when they go clubbing. Surely, encouraging all young men and women of that age group to always carry condoms, just as they always carry their phone, could be seen as encouraging them to be promiscuous. The message is that they carry condoms EVERYWHERE, as they woud a mobile phone, and not just when they are out clubbing The wording creates an association between lipstick and sex, and between cellphones and sex, familiar objects in our world, not just when people go clubbing, but ALL THE TIME.

The following statement is from the article: "This is not about encouraging promiscuity, but saying to those who are already sexually active: sex without a condom is seriously risky, so always use one." But that does not reflect what is actually being told to young people in the rest of the article.

The aim of this article would actually seem to be to get young people to carry condoms as they would some of the most familar and well-used items they have (regardless of whether they expect or would choose to be sexually active, and regardless of whether they are going clubbing or going to work). Carry your condoms as you would your mobile phone, is the message it is giving out.

So how about this line instead:

*"The aim of this campaign is to make carrying and using a condom for some men and women in this age group as familiar as eating cereal for breakfast. "*

Using this analogy might help lessen the idea that all women and men are as eager and willing to engage in sex as they are to talk on their cellphone, and might help in lessening pregnancies that come about from some kinds of sexual encounters.

Condom call for young 'on pull' BBC News 11 Nov 06
Young adults are to be urged to carry condoms when they are out "on the pull", as part of a government sexual health campaign.
It will focus on 18 to 24-year-olds. Just 20% of people in this age group say they carry condoms on a night out.     continues at http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/6132822.stm

Link updated April 18, 2012

4 September 2006

9/11 Alternative Theories - response to Lev Grossman

Lev Grossman, author of Why The 9/11 Conspiracies Won't Go Away (CNN/Time.com), forgot to mention money as a reason from demolishing the world trade center buildings, ie. if the government were actually involved. This is problematic when someone tells people to forget what they are seeing, or what is missing, but to go with "the official reason" only. Take one or the other, they are saying, and make it the official explanation that gets accepted as the one and only truth.

Is there anything wrong with asking questions, with just wanting to know what might have happened? The way this writer puts it it's something only odd people who would want to do. I think that the idea that there were facts without analysis or documentation in the alternative version is a problem the makers of such alternative versions of 9/11 blame on the govt, not the other way around, as this man is. Again, it's a matter of who has the authority and resources get analyses (such as on thermate) done?

I believe also it's about time they stopped calling them "conspiracy theories," a term that might lead people to reject writers or film-makers who present alternative views. The world is extremely complex, usually with many strands of 'truth' embedded in any narrative of an event. Simplifying it by coming up with a fact-based notion reduced to a single 'cause' isn't usually the way things work in real life. Usually, many people and many different threads are bound up in any simple notion of the truth, in a way that ignores vital missing evidence and theoretical explanations. When people's stories and visual evidence is dismissed and downplayed by the authorities gathering evidence, there is a tendency to let it go, to say it doesn't matter. It's only one persons' word. But if that is done time and time again, then there can be a great deal of truth left undiscovered.

It's not surprising that the people who made the film Loose Change did it on a shoe-string budget. That's what happens when those with the resources to get something done properly want to make sure one's work is marginalised and not taken seriously. People should pay attention to their instincts and thoughts on this matter, and question what is being said, officially, and reconsider their own beliefs and the truth of 9/11.

Why the 9/11 Conspiracy Theories Won't Go Away

By Lev Grossman
Time magazine
Sept 3, 2006

Link updated April 18, 2012

7 August 2006

Montreal Massacre

6th December 1989

One has only to do an internet search on the phrase "Montreal Massacre" to come up with many different articles and letters addressing this event in Canada's history. In 1989 a young man entered the Ecole Polytechnique in Montreal, armed with a semi-automatic rifle. In one classroom he separated the male students from the women and started shooting, moving on from there down the halls. By the time he was done shooting that December day, 14 women lay dead, 12 of them engineering students.

Most of the writing on this topic has been done from the perspective of the obvious victims - the women who were killed. But the reasons why Marc Lepine did what he did have never been permitted to come to light, or if they have been, were quickly dismissed. As time goes on, I wonder if I am experiencing something of what Marc Lepine went through. Or are we really expected to believe that he never tried to contact feminists, tried to talk to them, to get them to see his perspective, to realize the effect feminism was having on Canadian society?

As a man, a rather traditional man with both French-Canadian and, on his father's side, Algerian Muslim roots, he discovered that the place that had traditionally been men's - in male-dominated fields in university and careers out in the world - were being shared with women, no longer being men's alone. For this to happen, some men would lose out. And Lepine, age 25, was one of them. Without the help of parents, and not being middle class, and not holding the same values of many others of his age, Marc Lepine, born Gamil Gharbi, was at a disadvantage when it came to being accepted at engineering school.

See the Montreal Massacre website: http://www.montrealmassacre.net/  for essays, articles and commentary.

If you would like to have a comment or essay, etc included in the website please contact me.

Updated Apr 18, 2006

13 April 2006

Working Girls: sister thesis sells us short

In 'Sister' Thesis Sells Us Short (TO Star, Apr 8, 2006), Jennifer Wells comments on Professor Alison Wolf's article Working Girls (Prospect, Apr issue, 2006.) Briefly mentioning the first point Professor Wolf makes in her article, Jennifer Wells reiterates the generally-known fact that women never were viewed as a homogenous group under feminism, turning to the unspoken notion of the goal of equality between the sexes, one must assume, to uphold her point. But, as Wolf claims, at one time women did have a more-or-less shared experience of life-as second-class citizens-and in that sense would have shared a sisterhood. In today's world, however, the lived experience of an increasing number of women is very different than the second-class experience, and different from the way most women once lived.

The emphasis in Wells's response is on female altruism, which Wolf sees as currently in decline. Many women of earlier eras really did see their lives in the service of others as vocations, as the natural order of things or because of their religious values. Any notion that they were second-class citizens may not have even entered their minds. Feminists have often complained that men were androcentric in their views of women's lives; in the same way, women of today might well have difficulty understanding the lives of women who came before, or of women unlike themselves. But this is the way it was, for many women, and for some, still is.

Working women's concerns in today's world often ends at the immediate family, as Wells herself has noticed, others outside of that small sphere being out of their realm of responsibility and altruism as working women - independent, with families. On this issue I think Wolf is for the most part right; female altruism has changed. In a society that claims to value individualism, and in which religious values are in decline, what seems to matter most is no longer one's neighbours or even one's country, or doing the right thing, but putting the family first.

Wells has yet to come to see how the idea of work has affected our lives, as women, in recent decades. Work - especially paid work - is a major source of a person's identity. It always was, for men, and feminism has made it so for women, in fact, has practically made it a requirement for women. Wells is critical of Wolf, seeing work not as self-actualisation but as "busyness," a slight on the very real power that having a career has on a person's ability to speak and be heard, to be granted recognition, and have one's views validated. Self-actualisation, in a way, is being able to put into practice what one believes is best. For many women, work is simply "busyness," but it may be that they are not working in the field that suits them best.

Wells raises one final point, though not on Wolf's third point, a concern with women's growing disincentives to bear children. Wells tells us that women talk about wanting to give back in some way, when they are older. But after years of proving themselves on the job, is volunteering really what the majority of working women of today will want to do in their later years? Even on that front there is competition. And ageism is another factor. Sometimes when individuals appear to have withdrawn it is in part due to being pushed.

For women who have chosen to pursue a career, and who find recognition and a certain sense of fulfilment through doing so, there may be benefits for themselves and their families, whether chosen or blood-related. But I'm not sure that society on the whole will benefit. It may be that some women have chosen work and family, and will stand to benefit, but at what cost to society, never mind the sisterhood? Women, and men, whose life experience falls outside of the ideal of having it all, may be left with less, or even nothing. In the long term, if there are greater benefits for some women and men, more than likely there will be greater losses for others.

`Sister' thesis sells us short
By Jennifer Wells
Toronto Star
Apr 8, 2006

Working girls
By Alison Wolf
Prospect magazine
April, 2006 — Issue 121 (now listed as Apr 23, 2006)

Added Apr 18, 2012

Blame the neoliberals – a reply to Alison Wolf
By Rosemary Crompton
Prospect magazine
May 20, 2006 — Issue 122


Response to Wells on Wolf (short version of blog entry)
By Sue McPherson
Submitted to TO Star
Apr 13, 2006

Sisterhood reborn - a reply to Alison Wolf
By Pat Thane
Prospect magazine
May 20, 2006 — Issue 122


Links updated Apr 18, 2012

31 January 2006

Celebrity Big Brother's Banker Game

Britain’s 2006 Celebrity Big Brother TV programme (4th) (UK)

The last session of Celebrity Big Brother ended on Friday, January 27, with Essex girl Chantelle Houghton being voted the winner. But several days before this happy ending, the house was in turmoil. Big Brother had set up a game to be played - the Banker Game - which would involve intrigue, betrayal, and deception.

Unwittingly, Preston and Chantelle came to be the head bankers, through answering the telephone that had been placed in the room, and being invited to take on this task. Along with their responsibility, of buying shares on the stock market, came a secret status of membership in a private social club, unknown to the rest of the housemates, who were ‘just a bunch of bankers’.

On different occasions, the two headed off through the dining room to the Private Members’ Club, to partake of champagne, chocolate, cigars, and scrumptious food. They were not permitted to share this secret, however, and hiding it became increasingly difficult as the other housemates became suspicious. But they not only had the luxury of their existence, they also had the responsibility of getting the housemates to perform two tasks successfully, in order to win a decent amount of food, drink, and cigarettes. The alternative would mean the housemates would be restricted in what they could have. Thus, Chantelle and Preston had to ensure that the housemates completed the tasks successfully.

But there was another side to Big Brother’s scheming. The housemates had been informed that they must lose the tasks the head bankers set for them in order to win the larger amount of food and treats. Furthermore, they were not permitted to tell Chantelle and Prescott. So while the two head bankers tried their best to get the housemates to complete the tasks, the housemates were attempting to undermine the efforts of the two, so that they could fail, thus win. The gameplaying that ensued, the contradictions leading to frustration, with each side working towards a different agenda, with Big Brother exerting its power to create even further havoc in the play, was captivating entertainment.

All this was the result of an ingenious setup by Big Brother. In this microcosm of our daily world, first came the withholding of information - the secrets - then the suspicion, the guilt, and the apparently contradictory agendas. Tensions building, secrets divulged, frustration and disbelief at the betrayals followed, while defensive behaviour and anger towards perceived wrongdoers had the House in turmoil. The housemates did win the extra large supplies, but in the final run of things, was that what really mattered? They were all working towards the same goal - more food and goodies, even though they didn’t seem to see that in the heat of accusations and defensive outbursts. This, indeed, was Big Brother, the way we understand he would be, and is.

Links updated April 2012

Added April 16, 2012

Videos of 2006 Celebrity Big Brother UK:
Highlights: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iFvKZSU9hqA CBB 2006 highlights
Bankers private members club (15 Pt 2): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yjFiGNJonxs&feature=relmfu
Further tasks: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AjYIVxl7mN0&feature=relmfu

Housemates: see also http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Celebrity_Big_Brother_2006_(UK)
Chantelle Houghton (winner) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chantelle_Houghton
Michael Barrymore (runner-up) http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0058214/bio
Dennis Rodman http://www.dennisrodman.com/
Faria Alam http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Faria_Alam  
George Galloway http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Galloway  
Jodie Marsh http://www.jodiemarshtv.com/
Andrew Major (Maggot) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maggot_(rapper)
Pete Burns http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pete_Burns  
Preston http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Samuel_Preston_(singer)  
Rula Lenska
Traci Bingham http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Traci_Bingham  
Jimmy Saville http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jimmy_Savile  
Richard and Judy http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_and_Judy

See also: Big Brother Celebrity George Galloway MP, Jan 13, 2006: http://suemcpherson.blogspot.ca/2006/01/big-brother-celebrity-george-galloway.html

13 January 2006

Big Brother Celebrity George Galloway MP

Britain’s 2006 Celebrity Big Brother TV programme (4th) (UK)

George Galloway is causing quite a stir in Celebrity Big Brother on Channel 4. He entered the house, along with ten others, on the evening of thursday, January 5th. It was Day 8, a week later, on Jan 12, when, apparently following Big Brother’s orders, Galloway crawled up to actress Rula Lenska, while on prime-time television, pretending to be a cat lapping up imaginary milk from her cupped hands. This controversial display might have seemed erotic to some viewers; to others, it might have been considered disgusting or offensive. Either way, it couldn't be considered a worthy depiction of a cat lapping milk. But one has to admit, these antics do place him squarely into the realm of performance Big Brother seems to prefer; it is, after, all, people relating to one another in the diverse ways they do that makes it interesting. We would have to assume that this performance was spontaneous, and that Ruth Lenska was not responsible for the actions of George Galloway. In other words, it was not planned between the two of them. Galloway is already in trouble, for not being there for his constituents, although his office is still open.

As an MP, he has taken liberties, apparently, abandoning them while he goes off for up to three weeks to be with celebrities of various kinds, all willingly exposing their personalities, including quirks and flaws, in front of the camera. For these individuals to be together for up to three weeks, never knowing whether they will be voted out during the next round (by each other and the public) or be required to stay, is just part of the indignity of the situation.

Galloway doesn’t deserve either to be seen as a laughing stock or granted respect for his cat-antics. He is simply doing what a man does. George Galloway is the first member of Parliament - the Respect party - to take part in Celebrity Big Brother.

Added April 16, 2012

George Galloway plays the role of a cat (original) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I1NIuCt72bU 
george galloway being a cat http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E-D5XoNWFSQ

For more on the other housemates, see
Celebrity Big Brother’s Banker Game
By Sue McPherson
Sue’s Views on the News
Jan 31, 2006