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The Minister responds to a debate about the voluntary sector and social enterprise:
Lord Wallace of Saltaire [Lib Dem]: We are all volunteers. Volunteering, after all, has a long tradition in Britain. Long before the welfare state grew up there were churches and chapels; philanthropy and charitable activities by the well-off; friendly societies; co-operatives among the working classes; trade unions, of course—
Which is why the welfare state had to be invented. Turned out a haphazard cavalcade of the well-meaning and the tax-evading wasn't a reliable basis—and perhaps was even a shitty one—for ensuring that vital services were provided.
—and, above all, women. My mother retired from her last voluntary post when she was older than a considerable number of the women in the old people’s home of which was chair. She was one of that generation who would have had a career had she not got married and, as we know, one of the problems that we are facing in the voluntary sector has been that nowadays there is not that great pool of capable women who are not able to work because they are married. We therefore have to rely on the fit retired much more than we did.
So not only has David Willetts established beyond question that the rise of working women is directly responsible not only for all unemployment figures but for the dwindling and now even vulnerable position of men in society, but now Lord Wallace is setting out the case for married women not to be allowed to work because otherwise there won't be any publicly provided services at all.
I suppose that in some ways I am one of the fit retired who is a volunteer, as are half the government Front Bench. I work but I am not paid, although that is partly because I have quite a generous academic pension—not, of course, half as generous as doctors’ pensions—which enables me to provide my contribution. [Hansard]
Ha ha ha! It's funny because it's true; doctors are our most wasteful resource. We definitely need fewer of those grasping bastards and more questionably academic ministerial quisling scrotes. The Lib Dems, everybody!
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The women in David Cameron's Cabinet have been branded "an ugly bunch" by one of the Prime Minister's high-profile advisers. Retail guru Mary Portas said she could not bear to look at them and would relish the chance to restyle them and "put a bit of sex and glamour in there".

In an interview with Heat magazine, she said: "If I were PM I'd restyle all those women. I mean, the female Cabinet, what an ugly bunch." She continued: "Do you know, I could not look at them. I go in for meetings now and they do dress up for my meetings, but I just want to go, "Pleeease no, not that necklace, not that skirt'."

Ms Portas, known as the Queen of Shops for her retail makeovers, was tasked by the premier earlier this year with reviving the UK's high streets.

Drawing a contrast with the continent, she said of French women: "They're like, 'wow', aren't they? What do we have? I'd say let's just put a bit of sex and glamour in there." [Guardian]
The Daily Mail/Guido Fawkes crowd are always convinced that pronouncements like this are some kind of victory for them and constitute another blow against women thinking they're more then they are. Most women will of course greet it with a bored shrug and just carry on with whatever they were doing before, but still, the right-wingers have had a chance to crow and hoot and bark and how lovely for them.

However, if we simply take it as read that this tedious mugwump will wheel out pretty much anything that will draw attention to her (next week's Portas exclusive: “I always make sure my children are looking sumptuous when they leave the house in case today's the day they meet their first predatory paedophile!”), ultimately we're left with the far more important question of whether any politicians' time is better spent on difficult policies or on whether their accessories are in this season. And that's not a question I want answered by someone whose experience mostly revolves around fucking window decoration.

Sorry luv

Sep. 14th, 2011 12:05 pm
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Downing Street is considering cutting the school summer holiday, overhauling child benefit and banning advertising to under-16s as part of a charm offensive aimed at winning back female voters, according to a leaked government memo.

The document reveals a growing anxiety at the heart of government that the coalition is failing to deliver on its promise to be the "most family-friendly government ever" and a worry that its support among women is particularly low. [Guardian]
Women! The coalition's sorry it said and did all those things, like blaming working women for a lack of jobs for men, slashing state services that provide support for women or showing itself to be broadly anti-abortion. How can the coalition make it up to you? The coalition promises to do the washing up for a week, the coalition will hang up the washing as soon as it's done and not leave it getting stale in a pile on the kitchen floor, and if you're really lucky the coalition might bring in a treat for you from the closest 24-hour garage to No. 10.

Look, you're right to feel upset; the coalition has been a bit distracted lately. But don't worry your pretty little heads—the coalition intends to spend much more time with you from now on.
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In line with best practice, I will not link to the Daily Mail article that this post is culled from, even though I’m aware that many people’s first instinct will be to visit it immediately to verify that I am not making this stuff up.

A few extracts from Whatever Next?, the memoirs of Earl Ferrers, published this Thursday at £25:
While John Major was Prime Minister, he asked me to go to the Department of the Environment. It had always seemed to me that the department reflected the long-hair and sandals brigade, and tried to protect all the bugs and beetles which I find a menace.

‘The environment’ is the ‘in’ thing. If you are doing something for the environment, that means you are a good person and taking your responsibilities for the planet and the bugs seriously. That is rubbish. The world has been going for hundreds and thousands of years, and one wonders why, in 2011, there is impending disaster. I don’t believe it.

When I got to the department it appeared we had a big issue: the dung beetle. It was one of the animals that it was proposed we should protect. Who on earth wants to protect a dung beetle? Most people don’t know what it is, or what it looks like. If you saw a beetle walking across the kitchen floor, how would you know it was a dung beetle? If you conclude it is a dung beetle, then you must not kill it—or you will have committed an offence. But who is going to know that you have killed the dung beetle? Are they going to shop you to the police? We’ve all gone bonkers.



The Conservative Government introduced the Wildlife And Countryside Bill and part of it was to protect bats. I thought the Government had gone mad.

Lord Melchett was a bumptious young Labour Peer, about 24, who became exasperated with me for some non-sympathetic remarks about bats. He said: “I am sure that what the noble Lord is saying is not the advice of his officials.”

I said: “No. It is from my own experience. If there is one thing which my family cannot stand, it is bats. The girls dive for cover. They are terrified of the bats getting into their hair. The place is mayhem until the bats are removed. And, when it is suggested that the bats have the same right to your house as you have, I just don’t agree.”

It was not the Government line, it was mine—and I lost.



Naturally, with all the travelling and rushing around as a Minister, there were bound to be times when one was caught out. Which I was—by Mrs Thatcher.

When I went with my wife, Annabel, to No 10 for a lunch, I had not had time to look at what we were doing in the House of Lords that afternoon. During the pre-lunch drinks, the Prime Minister said: “Lord Ferrers, what is the House of Lords discussing this afternoon?” Horror of all horrors. I had not the slightest idea—and I was Deputy Leader of the Lords. I was mortified. Back in the House of Lords, I told fellow peer Christopher Soames: “I am in a terrible state.”

“Why?” he asked.

“I have bogged it with the Prime Minister. She asked me what the House of Lords was doing this afternoon and I didn’t know.”

Christopher roared with laughter. “She knew perfectly well. I told her myself this morning.”



At Question Time, if you can score a point or make them all laugh it is very satisfying. The schoolboy ethos is never very far away. When one Minister was at the Despatch Box, I found a drawing pin and placed it on the bench next to me, where the Minister was going to sit. John Belstead, who was Leader, practically had apoplexy. He screamed sotto voce, if one can do such a thing: “No. No. No.” I removed it just in time.
The noble Earl has one or two admiring things to say about women’s appearance, too, which I’m sure will make heartwarming reading for any ladies, although to get the fullest picture it’s also worth noting his publicly stated opinion on their nature as well.
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While the main chamber of the House of Lords is debating "the position of women in society in the United Kingdom and overseas and the advancements that can be made for the development of women's potential", committee business is going on in the Moses Room, the smaller debating chamber next door:
Baroness Wilcox [Minister]: My noble friend Lord Razzall has reminded us all about “heavy breathers”, from before this technology was developed. As a woman picking up the telephone, in the days before I went ex-directory, I have had a heavy breather on the other end of the phone.

Lord Razzall: (rakishly) I’m not surprised.

Baroness Wilcox: (blushing) Thank you.
Hmm. Given the subject matter being discussed over in the chamber, I'm sure that those proceedings will prove to be much more edifying.
Baroness Oppenheim-Barnes: There is very often the problem of sexual harassment in the workplace. Big companies and big names and big sums of money are brought in the way of damages. I can only say that throughout my career I never experienced such a thing. Probably, in retrospect, I am slightly offended.
Ah. If you have spent your life bobbing about on the smooth and untroubled surface of a particular class, you're going to remain blithely unaware of a few of life's realities, as gracefully demonstrated here.

I point out once again that the Lords is not composed exclusively of people like this. If there were none at all who could be relied on for quotes like these, though, they'd have to change the name of the entire institution; this stuff is exactly what you would expect something called the "House of Lords" to come out with.
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“‘Many women who do not dress modestly ... lead young men astray, corrupt their chastity and spread adultery in society, which increases earthquakes,’ Hojatoleslam Kazem Sedighi was quoted as saying by Iranian media. Women in the Islamic Republic are required by law to cover from head to toe, but many, especially the young, ignore some of the more strict codes and wear tight coats and scarves pulled back that show much of the hair. ‘What can we do to avoid being buried under the rubble?’ Sedighi asked during a prayer sermon last week. ‘There is no other solution but to take refuge in religion and to adapt our lives to Islam’s moral codes.’



This is exactly the sort of behaviour we’re talking about.

“Seismologists have warned for at least two decades that it is likely the sprawling capital will be struck by a catastrophic quake in the near future. Some experts have even suggested Iran should move its capital to a less seismically active location. Tehran straddles scores of fault lines, including one more than 50 miles long, though it has not suffered a major quake since 1830.

“The welfare minister, Sadeq Mahsooli, said prayers and pleas for forgiveness were the best ‘formulae to repel earthquakes. We cannot invent a system that prevents earthquakes, but God has created this system and that is to avoid sins, to pray, to seek forgiveness, pay alms and self-sacrifice,’ Mahsooli said.” [Guardian]


Ferrers!

Mar. 4th, 2010 04:32 pm
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On a Question about whether the Government are working to get more women into executive positions on company boards:

Earl Ferrers: My Lords, I ask the noble Baroness the Leader of the House whether she agrees that whatever their merit, both the questions and the answers are very discriminatory?

The Leader of the House (Baroness Royall of Blaisdon): My Lords, I do not think that I am being discriminatory in any way.

Lord Acton: My Lords, I ask whether my noble friend has read the speech of the noble Earl, Lord Ferrers, of December 1957, on the subject of women, and whether she is aware that the question that he has just asked is a model of enlightenment compared to that?

Baroness Royall of Blaisdon: My Lords, I have indeed read the speech by the noble Earl. I did not know whether to cry or to laugh. But I know that the noble Earl has made a huge change in his views since then, and I am glad that he is now the enlightened person that he is.

Earl Ferrers: My Lords, is the noble Baroness aware that at that time—which was some years ago—I was giving the views of the youth and the young generation, which is what everyone wants to listen to? Of course, as time progresses you change your views, sometimes a little, sometimes a lot, but you are still the same person.



A sample of those "views of the young generation":
Earl Ferrers: Frankly, I find women in politics highly distasteful. In general, they are organising, they are pushing and they are commanding. Some of them do not even know where loyalty to their country lies.

I disagree with those who say that women in your Lordships' House would cheer up our Benches. If one looks at a cross-section of women already in Parliament I do not feel that one could say that they are an exciting example of the attractiveness of the opposite sex. I believe that there are certain duties and certain responsibilities which nature and custom have decreed men are more fitted to take on; and some responsibilities which nature and custom have decreed women should take on. It is generally accepted that the man should bear the major responsibility in life. It is generally accepted, for better or worse, that a man's judgment is generally more logical and less tempestuous than that of a woman. Why then should we encourage women to eat their way, like acid into metal, into positions of trust and responsibility which previously men have held? If we allow women in this House, where will this emancipation end?...

I feel sure that nine out of ten noble Lords have in their heart... that we like women; we admire them; sometimes we even grow fond of them; but we do not like them here. [Hansard]


I have reproduced this speech before, but every so often it bears dusting off and incredulously re-examining.
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Baroness Miller of Hendon: I well remember my very first interview as a potential candidate [for MP]. The chairman’s opening words to me were: “Before you sit down, Mrs Miller, can you tell us whether your husband is aware that you are here?” Being naive as I was in those days, I did not realise that I was already sunk without a trace before I had begun, and I answered him politely. What I should have replied was, “No, he thinks I’m out at a disco with the milkman”.
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Introduction to a DCMS leaflet encouraging participation in the boardroom:
All organisations function best if the people running them bring a wide range of skills and experience to the board table. That’s why the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) wants to encourage talented and appropriately skilled individuals, with flair and creativity, to apply to join our boards. And that means women as well as men.


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If you can make your man happy, the rest will fall into place, says Kirstie Allsopp as she sets her sights on the House of Lords [Daily Mail]
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From today's debate on renewable energy.
Lord James of Blackheath: It was brilliantly presented in Budapest by a 28 year-old very attractive Hungarian physicist, who has just got the Nobel Prize. She has got four children already—one wonders what she does in her spare time.
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Baroness Kennedy of The Shaws: I took part in many debates with judges and they would all insist that the law was gender-blind. I remember appearing with one such judge on a television programme and him saying to me afterwards, “Helena, I don’t want you to think that I’m against women. I voted for them to join the Kennel Club”.
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My esteemed colleague rang me on Saturday night. “I hate women,” she said. I told her to come for a pint.

She had just finished her duties as a steward at the Reclaim the Night march in central London. One of her jobs was to ensure that the marchers stayed together and no gaps opened up. “Could you move up to the people in front, please,” she said at one point. The woman in front of her turned round angrily. “Feminists seek consensus,” she snapped. “They don’t tell each other what to do!”

The event was women-only. If any men wanted to show their support they were very welcome to accompany the march but they weren’t allowed among the actual marchers, as my esteemed colleague had to gently explain to one young woman and her grandfather. As they ducked out of the march she said, “I’m really sorry, but those are the rules.” A woman next to her hissed, “Never apologise to a MAN!”

The march started in Trafalgar Square. Before it began, people were coming over and asking what the event was, many of them men. One of the organisers said bitterly, “Why do men always want to know what women are up to?” My esteemed colleague’s reply was, “There are a thousand of us standing in Trafalgar Square holding banners. Enquiring what we’re doing here doesn’t constitute patriarchal oppression.” The organiser ignored her.

There were many banners, but they were poorly made and rapidly fell apart. As the march progressed, banner after banner collapsed and disappeared from view. My esteemed colleague was highly amused by this and couldn’t resist saying to another organiser, “We should have got a man in.” Whatever the diametric opposite is of the funnybone in the human body, she hit it squarely. It’s tough out there for a feminist with a sense of humour who doesn’t automatically hate men she has never met.

Sistaz!

May. 24th, 2007 01:01 pm
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“I don’t want to do this any more,” said one of my colleagues, a woman in her 50s, as we left the building. “I just want to spend my days riding my horse. But my husband doesn’t earn enough to keep me in the custom I’m used to.”

“Nice. Have you told him so?” I grinned.

“But that’s how it used to be,” she said. “We were always told, ‘Find yourself a rich man who can keep you’. I didn’t want any of that, I wanted to be independent. But as you get older... I should have gone to the south of France and shown myself off on the beach when I still had my looks. Far too late now. My daughter’s the same. She used to go out with [international UK rugby player]. Very tall. He used to fill my kitchen. She used to say, ‘But mum, he’s boring’. I’d say, ‘I don’t care. Stay with him!’. But she didn’t. She’s too much like I used to be. Still, she’ll learn.”
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A case currently at Inner London Crown Court centres on three 13 year-old boys accused of raping two 16 year-old girls. The boys were vandalising a 261 bus between Bromley and Lewisham before, it is claimed, they followed the girls, mugged them for their phones and said, “Give us a blowjob if you want your phones back”. The girls claim they were then gangraped by the boys who filmed everything on their own phones.

Barrister Sheilagh Davies knows how to stick up for her clients. Representing one of the boys, she said in court today that the girls consented to sex, “maybe to get attention, maybe to gain affection”.
She told the jury one of the girls, who testified via video link, had “slimmed down a lot” since the incident in southeast London last November. The barrister added: “She was 12st 6lb—not quite the swan she may turn into. She may well have been glad of the attention.” [thelondonpaper]
Good point, Sheilagh. When you’re overweight, “Give us a blowjob if you want your phone” is as close as you’re going to get to being sung “Three Times A Lady”. Another great day for women and for the legal profession, then.
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Today’s Metro headline about the Brits detained in Iran, particularly Faye Turney, was needlessly mawkish: “A prisoner, a pawn—but above all, a mother”.

Surely this is nonsense. Surely, “above all, a soldier”. Several other papers have also followed this sickly journalistic recipe: “Will she see her child again?” and all that. A good question, and one she will certainly have asked herself when she set off for military operations in Iraq.

This stand-off with Iran is all very silly and could yet escalate, though it really shouldn’t, but it’s intriguing to watch a press that forever claims to be fighting against government control of its news agenda so swiftly and willingly pump out propaganda that would make any Ministry of Truth proud. “They’re attacking innocent mothers. Will your sister be next?
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A young footballer who filmed a friend having sex with a 14-year-old girl before distributing the mobile phone images has walked free from court. Callum McKinlay passed the video round among school friends after the incident at a party in Perth.

At the town’s sheriff court, the 16-year-old, who earlier admitted making and distributing indecent images, was admonished. McKinlay was told he was being treated leniently because of his future career.

The schoolboy, who was 15 at the time of the offence, and two of his friends, recorded a 16-year-old youth having unlawful sex with the third-year pupil during the drunken party in May. When footage of the incident was distributed to several youngsters at a school in Perth, police were called in to investigate.

McKinlay, from Bridge of Earn, who has played for Scotland Under-16s, Rangers and Hibs, was told he would have had his sentence deferred, had it not been for his potential career. Sheriff Michael Fletcher told him: “I think there’s a whole raft of things you can learn from this whole sorry experience... You might develop into a good footballer and if that did happen to you, imagine what it would be like if you were in the situation these people were, and people took photos and sent them on to magazines or newspapers.” [BBC]
Clearly the judge here knows his football, and has made his judgment on the basis that when McKinlay grows up and joins the big time, he’ll need the time and experience necessary to become a successful premier-league rapist.

Talking of which, research last week showed that rape convictions have stood still and that changes brought in by the 2003 Sexual Offences Act are having little impact or just aren’t being implemented in the first place. As unexpected news goes, this is right up there with “Earth revolves around sun”, but it doesn’t change the fact that with a 5 per cent conviction rate for reported rapes in England and Wales, right now this is a bull market for rapists.

There are, inevitably, opposing views on this. First, still frosted with intellectual fairydust from the enlightenment wonderland that is the BBC’s “Have Your Say” forum, here’s James from Durham:
Part of the problem is the fact that so many women are falsely accusing men of rape nowadays. A woman gets drunk and gives consent, yet in the morning can accuse the male of rape. Add to that cases of women accusing celebrities of rape, yet the first port of call is Max Clifford, then the local police station, doesn’t stand to reason. A judge and jury have to take these in to account before establishing ‘beyond reasonable doubt’.
Thanks for that, James. Sue from London appears to disagree:
The myth of women crying rape, whether after bad sex or for whatever reason, is crucial to the condoning of rape. The problem is not that women falsely report being raped but that most women do not report rape at all, and those who do are subjected to a process of character assassination which leaves them bewildered.

The phrase ‘false allegations’ needs unpicking. The malicious woman who concocts a false story to take revenge on her past lover would not get very far in the legal system, where a past sexual relationship usually precludes cases even getting to court. Temkin (1987) points out that there is no evidence that fabricating allegations happens more often in rape cases than in other types of crime. In a Home Office study, the police decided that they had evidence of this in only seventeen of the cases reported to them from two London boroughs over a three-year period. There is no evidence such cases reach court. According to a Scottish study of police response published in 1983, although some officers talked about a high rate of false allegations, they found it very difficult to recall particular cases they had dealt with that were unquestionably false. When I asked the director of one of the regional CPS offices who had worked for the CPS since 1985 if he had ever come across a case in which a woman had made a false allegation, he somewhat sheepishly admitted that he could not think of one. *
Come on, love, call yourself professor of women’s studies at the University of London? You don’t even begin to address the massive epidemic of celebrities being accused of rape. After all, why on earth would you behave badly if you were a celebrity?

Even if the man is convicted, there may still be questions about his accuser. The case that caused the phrase “date rape” to be coined, that of Angus Diggle in 1994, became a cause célèbre for the right-wing press. The Sunday Telegraph at the time, lambasting what it saw as the latest manifestation of political correctness, said:
The conviction only makes sense on the basis that Diggle was being punished not for what he actually thought would be Ms X’s attitude to his advances, but for what he ought to have thought.
Since the jury agreed with Ms X that she had been asleep on the couch at the time when Diggle started having sex with her, he seems a curious choice as a hero for these guardians of law and order, civil society etc. Telegraph columnist Minette Marrin was particularly incensed on his behalf:
The whole date-rape nonsense, of which this is the worst example in this country, was the direct result of political correctness... what Diggle did was something that most of our sons and lovers have done, though, it is to be hoped, with more style.
Um... remember the part where she was asleep? Look, just don’t spend the night at Minette’s house. Lord alone knows what she’ll be getting up to once you nod off.

The right-wing press was, however, as it so often likes to claim, ahead of its time. Sleep has been downgraded in recent sexual offences legislation from a reason rape will automatically be judged to have happened to a factor that can be argued over. Essentially, the fact that you were asleep when attacked does not now necessarily mean that you weren’t giving your consent. Presumably defence counsels will soon be regularly consulting Freud’s Interpretation of Dreams in court.

Meanwhile, the original version of this story (though not the update) quoted a woman who was recently challenged by a judge: if she couldn’t remember exactly what time she had gone to sleep, how could she possibly remember whether or not she had given her consent for sex? A reasonable question for someone to ask—if they have never, for example, had sex. Or sleep.

Also, case history has repeatedly established that if the complainant has previously had a sexual history with the defendant, there is no way that a jury will countenance that he could later have raped her. It turns out that I could at any time, under any circumstances, have sex with any woman I have previously slept with and, she and her boyfriend or husband might be rather surprised to discover, no court would ever think of convicting me.

Still, if you have been so ungallant as not to revisit an old flame, it is important to remember, as a man, that you’re statistically more likely to find yourself up before a male judge, a man of the world who’s been around. He’ll understand.
In court [the defendant] agreed that he had asked the young woman if she would like to wait for her boyfriend in his flat. He claimed that when she had disappeared, he had gone to look for her and, to his astonishment, had found her naked in his bed. He said she had invited him to join her and claimed she had agreed to intercourse. At this point the judge, who had given the impression that he found the complainant very attractive, intervened with the following preposterous question:

JUDGE: Did you find her attractive as a woman, a girl?
DEFENDANT: She was attractive enough.
JUDGE: When you went into the bedroom you must have thought it was Christmas and Easter put together when you found her naked in your bed. *


* Extracts taken from Sue Lees (professor of women’s studies at the University of London), Carnal Knowledge: Rape on Trial, 2002. This edition makes it plain that it does not take into account the changes that were due to be enacted by the Sexual Offences Act 2003—but as it’s now clear that precious few of those changes have actually happened, it looks pretty much as relevant as bloody ever, doesn’t it?

Slave 4 U

Nov. 1st, 2006 10:19 am
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The London Feminist Network is outraged. It has sent out the following email:

We have been extremely concerned to discover that the national charity Kids, whose slogan is ‘Including Everybody’, is planning to hold a Slave Auction at a Halloween fundraising event tonight:
“The event is an exclusive fancy dress party where guests will enjoy an evening of drinking, dancing, and innovative fundraising activities including the Cauldron Lucky Dip, Raffle and Slave Auction.”
That any organisation should consider this an appropriate and acceptable activity at any time is beyond belief, but the fact that this event falls within Black History Month shows even greater insensitivity to the entire issue of slavery and its legacy in this country.

This event seems totally out of step with any ethos of inclusion of any sort. Please take urgent action on this issue.

EDIT: Victory!
Dear Sir or Madam,

I understand that you are planning a "Slave Auction" as part of your event - having only just heard about this I would ask that you reconsider this, in light of the insensitivity it displays to the black community - october is black history month, when the atrocities of slavery are highlighted - I am concerned that making light of slavery, one of the greatest crimes against humanity, sends the wrong message out, and will not encourage engagement from the black communities.

Yours Sincerely,
Denis Fernando
Co-ordinator
National Assembly Against Racism

-----------------------------------------------------------------

Dear Mr Fernando

Thank you for your email. We understand the sensitivity regarding the term ‘Slave Auction’ that you have expressed. As a result an ‘Auction of Promises’ was held at last night's Halloween Party instead whereby individuals volunteered to provide an experience to the highest bidder. The auction also included two watches so moved away from the focus of bidding for individuals.

The information on the website will be removed and we apologies for any offensive caused.

Yours sincerely
Elizabeth Livesey-Haworth
Head of Events
Kids
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Beyond the Veil, Fatima Mernissi:
[For hardliners] the sexual act is considered polluting, and is surrounded by ceremonials and incantations whose goal is to create an emotional distance between the spouses and reduce their embrace to its most elementary function, that of a purely reproductive act. During coitus, the male is actually embracing a woman, symbol of unreason and disorder, anti-divine force of nature and disciple of the devil. Hence a dread of erection, which is experienced as a loss of control and, according to Ghazali [11th century], referred to as darkness in verse 3 of sura 113:
Say: I seek refuge in the lord of daybreak
From the evil of that which he created
From the evil of darkness when it is intense.
In an attempt to prevent a complete merging with the woman, the coital embrace is surrounded by a ceremony which grants Allah a substantial presence in the man’s mind during intercourse. The coital space is religiously oriented: the couple should have their heads turned away from Mecca. “They should not face the ‘holy shrine’ in respect for it” [Ghazali]. This symbolism of spatial orientation expresses the antagonism between Allah and the woman. Mecca is the direction of God. During intercourse, the man is reminded that he is not in Allah’s territory, whence the necessity to invoke his presence.
It is advisable for the husband to start by invoking God’s name and reciting “Say God is one” first of all and then reciting the takbir “God is most great” and the tahlil “There is no god but God” and then say, “In the name of God, the high and powerful, make it a good posterity if you decide to make any come from my kidney”. [Ghazali]
At the crucial moment of ejaculation, when the physical and spiritual boundaries of the lover threaten to melt in a total identification with the woman, the Muslim lover is reminded:
It is suitable to pronounce, without moving the lips, the following words: “Praise be to God who created man from a drop of water”. [Ghazali again]
(Other reports on the words a Muslim is supposed to pronounce during coitus are in Imam Bukhari, al-Jami’ al-Salih, and Imam Tarmidi, Sunan al-Tarmidi.)

They’re not just any old sacred recitations he’s muttering to himself as he ploughs away—they’re incantations specially chosen to protect him because he believes you’re the embodiment of evil! That’s got to make any girl feel special.
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Women! It must be a great relief to discover that Lord Selsdon is on your side:


Lord Selsdon: This is the greatest proportion of women who have ever spoken in a debate in your Lordships’ House, and having a great admiration and affection for women, I feel humbled and fully supportive... My mother happened to be the first woman Lord Mayor, which is where my support for women may partly come from.

December 2015

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