Monthly Archives: May, 2014

“Cosmetic surgery and teenagers – a disaster waiting to happen”

Soon, surgery to address body confidence issues may be more common than therapy, as young women appear to be fuelling the increase in cosmetic procedures in the UK. Hard evidence is limited in a surprisingly unregulated industry but anecdotal evidence is everywhere, so much so that last week the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (Baaps) called for a crackdown.

The demand for surgery isn’t new. In 2005, a magazine survey of 2,000 teenagers found that 40% of girls had considered plastic surgery. Since then, however, the industry has grown five-fold, an increase unaffected by the 2012 scandal over the PIP breast implants.

Full article here

“How the world’s first women’s refuge saved my life”

Jenny Smith will never forget the phone call that saved her life. It was her second attempt after finding herself incapable of speech the first time. Trying again a few days later, she managed a few gasped words: “I’m a battered wife, can you help me?”

After being ignored by a doctor and a psychiatrist and told to go home and make peace with her husband by a priest, this time a woman’s calm, soft voice, said: “Can you make your way here? We are in Chiswick, 2 Belmont Terrace. Can you get here? Just try to get here.”

It was May 1973, there was no law against marital rape in the UK, lone women could not apply for a mortgage, and domestic violence was rarely mentioned. Smith had endured two years of violence from her mentally unstable husband, including vicious beatings, knifings, burns, bites and an attempted drowning. Within 48 hours of that call, with the help of a neighbour, she had left her home in Hackney, east London, and was standing outside an ordinary terraced house in west London – her seven-month-old daughter in one arm, her 23-month-old at her side.

When the door swung open she was enveloped in a woman’s embrace. “Come in, love,” she said. “You’re safe now.” As she stepped over the threshold, Smith unwittingly became a small part of feminist history: one of the first women to be given sanctuary in the world’s first women’s refuge.

Continue reading here

“Live online streaming of child sex abuse an emerging trend, crime agency warns”

The live online streaming of real-time child sexual abuse is becoming an “emerging trend” that will grow over the next three years, according to Britain’s organised crime fighters.

The National Crime Agency says that while the scale of existing forms of production of indecent images of children is likely to remain stable over the next year to three years, live streaming and paedophiles’ use of the “hidden web” – sites beyond the reach of search engines – are likely to rise sharply.

The NCA says paedophiles are using the increasing availability of the internet in developing countries to live-stream the abuse of children to paying customers across the world.

Full article here

We live in a rape culture: cycling edition

Most women cyclists have a grim story to tell: the youths shouting “lucky saddle!” as you pass, the dirty old man at the bus stop asking if you’ll give him a ride.

But Saturday was the first time I’d actually been sexually assaulted while out on my bike.


Any positive feelings towards the gang evaporated a few seconds later when they accelerated past, with the first rider giving my arse a good thwack as he overtook. I say he, but I suppose it could have been a woman under the helmet. Could.

At first I didn’t know what had happened. I thought they’d tried to push me off, but as my right buttock throbbed I realised with horror that they’d slapped my bum. My hands were shaking as I gripped the handlebars for dear life, trying desperately to stay upright. Once I’d steadied myself I realised I was crying behind my sunglasses. Not only was I frightened but I felt totally humiliated.

Who are these people who think it’s fun to degrade a woman as she rides her bike? Do they get a sexual thrill from their leather glove whacking a Lycra-clad backside? Or is it just about asserting power? I bet the bikers had a right old laugh about it when they stopped at the pub for lunch, the odious morons.

Helen Pidd, full article here

More Oxbridge sexual violence

From the BBC:

New students at Cambridge University could be offered “consent” workshops after a survey revealed more than 70 undergraduates said they had been sexually assaulted.

More than 2.000 people responded to the university’s women’s group and university newspaper, Varsity, survey.

Its authors called for “compulsory consent workshops” after 71 people reported “assault by penetration”.

The university confirmed it was discussing the workshops proposal.

About 77% of respondents also said they had experienced some form of sexual harassment with about 46% saying they had experienced “unwelcome pinching, groping or sexual touching”.

The “Cambridge Speaks Out” survey looked into the “prevalence of sexual violence, stalking and physical violence amongst all students currently studying at Cambridge University”.

About two thirds of respondents were female and one third were male.

From the Guardian:

The president of the prestigious Oxford Union has been arrested and questioned by police on suspicion of rape and attempted rape

Ben Sullivan, 21, who is studying history and politics at Christ Church College, Oxford, was arrested early on Wednesday . He was released the same afternoon on bail until 18 June.

It is understood that the allegations relate to one of rape reported to have taken place in January 2013, and one of attempted rape reported to have taken place in April 2013.


Sullivan, a third year student, was elected unopposed to the position of president last autumn.

He has been at the centre of recent controversy at the university after a student news website claimed he had been a member of an exclusive drinking society within his college known as the Banter Squadron.

He was embroiled in a bitter row with the website, The Oxford Tab, which accused him of trying to prevent it reporting his membership of the club and trying to get the Oxford Union to fund legal action against the site.

Part of the narrative of rape culture is not just the claim that rape is rare and unusual (so unusual in fact, that apologists think false allegations of rape are more common than rape itself), but also that rape is only committed by ‘outlier’ man, ‘bad men’, the implication being that these are men who were raised badly (which has the added benefit of facilitating the bashing of poor and/or single mothers). Oxbridge (for my non-UK readers this is a shorthand like ‘Ivy League’ for the top two Universities in the UK, Oxford and Cambridge) has a very high intake of students who were educated at public (ie fee charging) schools, and who are middle and upper class; ie, by mainstream standards, they were ‘raised properly’. Rape culture is the fact that ‘nice middle class white boys’ commit sexual violence just as much as any other group of men.

Also, the men educated at these Universities are the politicians, lawyers, doctors and business leaders of the future, they are going to have direct and indirect power and control over the lives of women and girls.

“Harvard and Princeton among 55 schools facing Title IX investigation”

The Education Department on Thursday took the unprecedented step of releasing the names of the 55 colleges and universities currently facing a Title IX investigation over their handling of sexual abuse complaints.

The release came two days after a White House task force promised greater government transparency on sexual assault in higher education. The department said it will keep an updated list of schools facing such an investigation and make it available upon request.

The schools range from big public universities like Ohio State University, the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor and Arizona State University to private schools like Knox College in Illinois, Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania and Catholic University of America in the District of Columbia. Ivy League schools like Harvard, Princeton and Dartmouth are also on the list.

The agency previously would confirm such an investigation when asked, but students and others were often unaware of them.

“We hope this increased transparency will spur community dialogue about this important issue,” Catherine E Lhamon, the department’s assistant secretary for civil rights, said in a statement.

Continue reading here

QotD: “Either men are capable of being better all on their own or men need to be inoculated for human decency, but it can’t be both”

It’s remarkable that half the complain-y notes in that post are people shocked I don’t realize that NOT ALL MEN ARE LIKE THAT and the other half are people telling me men need to be spoon-fed little bits of empathy for women so they can build up a tolerance to actually seeing us as human beings. If only they’d fight each other, they’d realize why I write posts like that. Either men are capable of being better all on their own or men need to be inoculated for human decency, but it can’t be both, so fucking pick and get back to me when you’ve duked it out, apologists.

Next Years Girl

QotD on revolutionary praxis

Often emphasis on [feminist] identity and lifestyle is appealing because it creates a false sense that one is engaging in praxis. […] Focusing on feminism as political commitment, we resist the emphasis on individual identity and lifestyle. (This should not be confused with the very real need to unite theory and practice.) Such resistance engages us in revolutionary praxis. The ethics of Western society informed by imperialism and capitalism are personal rather than social. They teach us that the individual good is more important than the collective good, and consequently that individual change is of greater significance than collective chance. This particular form of cultural imperialism has been reproduced in feminist movement in the form of individual women equating the fact that their lives have been changed in a meaningful way by feminism ‘as is’ with a policy that no change need occur in theory and praxis, even if it has little or no impact on society as a whole, or on masses of women.

bell hooks, Feminist Theory from Margin to Center

(Found at Pomeranian Privilege)

QotD: “Courts are highly reluctant to curtail fathers’ access to their children”

Perhaps the most widespread myth is the belief that mothers are favored by courts in custody disputes, which stopped being true decades ago. It is true that for roughly the first half of the 1900s the ‘Tender Years Doctrine’ was influential, and mothers had some advantage in gaining custody of young children. (Prior to about 1900, mothers had no rights regarding custody at all.) But in the 1970s the tide was turning back, for various reasons, and by the 1980s fathers were winning at least joint custody in a majority of the custody battles they undertook, and winning sole custody more often than mothers, a situation that remains today. And the fathers who are taking advantage of this imbalance are largely abusive ones; researchers have found that abusers are twice as likely as non-abusive men to seek custody.


Courts are highly reluctant to curtail fathers’ access to their children. As a number of court employees have said to me over the years, ‘There are so many fathers out there who abandon their children, and here I have a dad who wants to be involved; you’re telling me I should discourage him?’ As a result they tend to hold fathers to much lower standards than mothers. Supervised visitation is not often imposed, and usually gets lifted within a few months as long as the father behaves well under supervisions, as most abusive men do.

Lundy Bancroft, When Dad Hurts Mom: Helping Your Children Heal the Wounds of Witnessing Abuse, 2004

(Found at Pomeranian Privilege)

QotD: “Pasta: A New Biography by Naomi Wolf”

Ok, this party is completely over, but still, Sarah Ditum is hilarious! Go read the whole thing here.

Thanks to new science that I discovered while researching my new book, Pasta: A New Biography, we now know that there is also a direct rat-vagina connection. This means that whatever happens to a caged rat in a laboratory will also happen to your vagina. In one experiment, rats were sent on a Take Back The Night March and told they had a “stinky pussy”. The result was that the rats were rendered incapable of writing for six months, the first time rats had ever suffered from writer’s block.