Archive for the 'current affairs' Category

Why I don’t think Julien Blanc should be banned and I won’t sign the petition

There is a popular internet campaign to get Blanc banned from the UK and Canada after he was already kicked out of Australia. He runs seminars on how to pick up women, nothing wrong with that I think. According to those who want him banned he is sexist, racist, offensive and tricks women into having sex with him and he’s sharing his tips, tricks and vile attitude with men who pay to attend his seminars; thereby promoting sexism, rape and etc…

OK my instant reaction was to sign the petition as a way of signalling that I am against sexism.
But within seconds my other instant reaction saved me:
I am for Freedom of Speech and Against Censorship no matter if I disagree with the views, banning people (or books) does sit well with me.

Let us assume everything they say about Julien Blanc is correct and ask should he be banned from this country and should his writings and videos be banned.
NO and for so many reasons, I will try to be succinct.

  • It is not easy to challenge offensive views when they are banned and therefore only discussed underground with like minded people. e.g. Many wanted the BNP banned from the BBC but when they have been given a voice it has been far easier to discredit their ridiculous racist arguments.
  • Banning things makes them attractive and exciting. People want what they can’t have and it actually could give more credibility to minority views.
  • Who gets to be the moral arbiter on what is unacceptable and banned?  … when will my FoS be curtailed?

The last point may be the most important. I have held a whole pile of unpopular minority opinions for most of my life and am pleased that in the UK we are tolerant of vegetarian, atheist, left-wing, queer, feminists. I can say what I like and live how I please; that is not possible in many countries today.  In my life time (am I’m not that old) it was perfectly legal to discriminate against people because of their race, gender or sexuality. It was once an unpopular minority who fought for changes in these laws. It is not surprising then that sexist, racist and homophobic views are still around but banning them is no way to challenge them. Banning the freedom of speech to express sexist views will not help women, at all.

There is the other question: Is it True What They are saying about Julien Blanc?

I don’t know and I’m not interested enough to find out.  The man should be free to say what he wants and if people are willing to pay to hear him then that’s fine.

But I am a cynic, I don’t believe what I’m told just because it is in a newspaper.  e.g:

  • Last year I was told sex education lessons involved showing porn to junior school children.  I looked into it and it was a load of nonsense.  The material was put together by the BBC and you could only object if you found nudity objectionable.
  • This is coupled with a campaign to replace sex education in schools with relationship education with a big message promoting monogamy and marriage.
  • There is a campaign to ban porn, not really nasty stuff but ANY IMAGES intended to cause sexual arousal.
  • Last week Parliament was presented with a clause to make prostitution illegal (paying for sex).  It was thrown out of GB but in place in NI.

These things are all presented as if they are going to be good for women and children but they are not.

There is a moral agenda being promoted that sex should be within a monogamous relationship and recreational sex for fun is wrong, especially if it is between casual friends or strangers.

I can’t help wondering if the same moralists are behind the campaign to ban Julien Blanc, after all he seems to be happily promoting the idea that multiple casual partners is a good thing.

I would call myself a feminist, I am annoyed by sexism around me on a daily basis. So how offensive is Blanc?

Those who are outraged by him say watch this, so I did:

The clip and it isn’t as described in the Guardian.  I think most people in the UK would watch this and see it as no big deal.  It is not more sexist or racist than many stand-up comedy shows.  It is edited so we do not get the full context but Blanc appears to be giving an entertaining talk in the way that many of us talk/joke about sex sometimes.

(sadly) I think you can hear far more offensive comments than these if you see a lot of stand-up comedy – even on TV, if you hang out in a bar or listen in to a bunch of men talking (not about football).

Does Blanc Manipulate Women Into Having Sex?

Another big question.  How honest are any of us?  I read How To Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie.  Am I a fraud because when I’m nice to people and listen to them instead of bluntly telling them what I think? There are so many books about understanding the opposite sex.  Is someone being deceptive if they learn lessons from those.  The objection to Blanc seems to be because he talks about sex as a goal rather than getting a girlfriend, so as I said, it is a moral agenda.

I think the campaign against Blanc presents women as gullible victims who are easily taken in rather than people who actually also have their own goals and agenda.  

Many people will sign that petition without watching the clip but if that is the worst they have on him then this really is a story about nothing.

If you want to read the alternative view point, it was in the Guardian

http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2014/nov/10/julien-blanc-petition-urges-uk-deny-visa-pick-up-artist

There is an alternative petition against banning Blanc. http://www.change.org/p/facebook-do-not-censor-julien-blanc-do-not-deny-julien-blanc-a-uk-visa

I didn’t sign that either because it says he isn’t sexist and he helps men.  I don’t know if it is true and for me it is not the issue.

IF All they Say About Julien Blanc is True and it may be

To my mind the problem is not this man the problem is that vile views towards women and sex and violence can thrive in a society  that is

  • Sexist.
  • Sexually repressed.

These are the problems to tackle.

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Children as young as 7 and 8 (UK Year 3 and older) should not be getting changed for PE together in schools

If 12 and 13 year olds in secondary school were asked to strip down to their underwear together in a mixed class of girls and boys there would be be plenty of complaints. If you think that increased privacy should always be in place for pubescent children then it follows that children from the age of 8, year 3 (at the latest), should be split into single sex groups when changing for PE, games and swimming.

What age do children begin puberty?
About 12 is the average age for girls to begin their periods and boys develop later than girls. These are just generalisations and menstruation is not at the start of puberty.
About 10% of girls will have started their periods before the end of year 6 (end of junior school) and some will start in year 5. These girls are not odd, these ages are within the normal pattern of development.

Half of all girls begin puberty before the age of 10
Breast development and pubic hair signal the onset of puberty a long time before the first period.
Puberty in girls usually begins between the ages of 8 to 12 years (only a year later for boys) and large scale research in the US suggests that 6 or 7 could be considered to be “normal.”

In a year 3 Class 2 or 3 girls may begin puberty out of 15 girls.
About 1 in 6 white girls and 2 in 5 black girls had breast development by their 8th birthday according to published research http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/early/2010/08/09/peds.2009-3079.abstract

Other research concurs, around the age of 8 is a normal age for puberty to start in caucasian children

http://center4research.org/child-teen-health/early-puberty-and-problems-in-sexual-development/girls-to-women/

What this all means is that statistically around half of girls in school will begin puberty before the final year of junior school. It seems most schools (but not all) do split children in year 6 for changing purposes but many, many schools do not split younger children.

I suspect this may not be an issue for boys? Almost all women will recall changing for sport being an unpleasant and embarrassing experience when going through puberty (even when they are only with girls). Why make it so much worse for the youngest girls, who are the first in their class to experience these changes, by making them strip off in front of boys too.

It is significant that Steingraber says, “early puberty alters a girl’s social interactions in ways that produce trauma and erode self-esteem.”
http://www.cwhn.ca/en/node/39365

Is there such a thing as a male or female brain?

I was interested to watch Horizon on this subject last night, I highly recommend you see it. It is repeated on TV tonight or you can see it here:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b04knbny/horizon-20142015-7-is-your-brain-male-or-female

It is a subject that has always fascinated me for many reasons, here’s the shortlist:

  1. As a young child in the 1970s I was repeatedly told that as a girl I would be a wife and look after children and the home, I couldn’t be an X,Y or Z (all the things that I actually wanted to do). I never wanted to play at being mum or play with dolls.  Big disappointment to get a doll as a present.
  2. In reality having children and being a housewife didn’t appeal to me as a child, as a teenager or when I was in my 20s (doesn’t appeal much now either but don’t tell Mr TP or my 3 children).
  3. I was always good at maths, not just good but outstanding, top of the class.
  4. I could always map read and do all those sort of things…

The case Prof Alice Roberts presented was compelling both she and Prof Gina Rippon showed us that the differences between male and female brains are very small such that the difference within the two groups, male and female, are greater than the differences between the groups.  Prof Rippon said that it is not possible to determine whether a brain is male or female.   We are equally as good (or bad) at map reading, maths  and 3D problem solving.

Without doubt there are significant differences in behaviour and aptitude between men and women but are these differences a result of socialisation – i.e.our life experiences, or inherently part of our nature?  In other words, as I am the mathematical map reader and Mr TP is the tidy-up fanatic are we a family of  deviants?

Prof Roberts points to the toys children are given and the way they are encouraged to play as toddlers.   Without doubt the gender stereotyping and difference between entertainment aimed at aims and at boys is greater now than when I was a child because we simply had fewer toys, less choice, there were no electronic games. There was little children’s TV, no DVDs, so we watched whatever was on without any notion of programmes aimed at just girls or just boys.   Despite advances in equality legislation in my lifetime the pressure for girls to conform to a gender type is now greater than ever.

My experience – I have girl- boy twins, now aged 6.  Throughout their short lives they have always wanted to play together, any game, any kind of toys, just together.  All the toys hold equal entertainment for them regardless of being “girls” or “boys” toys. OTHER people have repeated bought gender specific toys, when they were younger this particularly led to tears, they both want to ride the bike or play with the baby in the pram.  As my older son is 12 I am aware that between 6 and 12 the difference in toy marketing continues. Science, science-fiction (Star Wars), construction (lots of lego) and action toys are aimed towards boys whereas the pink isles have much less lego, the emphasis is on dressing up, home making and being artistic.

In recent months my twins have got scooters, lots of girls have scooters, but when my twins go to the scooter/skatepark it is dominated by boys.  The ratio may be 20:1!  Either parents of boys are more likely to think of taking their sons to these places or is it that only boys are asking to go?

Shooting places (lazer, paint ball, soft ball) are all male dominated, again I don’t know why as I think girls are just as likely to enjoy these places (I do).   All of my child go to golf lessons, my eldest is 12.  There is no reason why there would be less girls than boys at these lessons and school holiday golf clubs but they are male dominated, again I estimate at a ratio of 20:1.  My conclusion is that most young girls have a VERY different life compared to boys.

Adult male and female brains are different and two pieces of scientific research suggest there may be a biological link.

Professor Ruben Gurr and Dr Ragini Verman have been involved in mapping the network of connections in the brain that shows dramatic differences between men and women, post puberty.  It is most interesting that in children, however, this difference does not exist.  Our boys and girls do not have different brains so why treat them differently?   Furthermore, the more important question is not answered by this research – why are do our brains develop in different ways in our teenage years? It could be biology, our adolescent hormones,  but it could just as easily be to do with the very different life experiences we have.

Simon Baron-Cohen’s  theory suggests autism is an extreme form of the “male brain” because those with autism are better at spatial problem solving and poor at empathy, i.e. the stereotypical male behaviour but taken to an extreme.  About 1% of the population has autism and of those there are more males than females at a ratio of 2:1.

There was an obvious huge flaw in this as evidence for a biological difference between male and female, perhaps that is due to how it was presented as just a short segment of a longer documentary.  Elevated levels of foetal testosterone and sex steroid hormones are linked to autism or the “male brain.”  Undoubtedly this is interesting stuff about how prenatal hormones affect our abilities in later life but there was no connection between this research and its relevance to the 99% of the population who do not have autism, those who did not have elevated prenatal sex hormones, perhaps that just wasn’t explained in the programme?

If the male brain does not exist (see  by Roberts and Rippon) then the label of autism as the extreme “Male Brain” is in itself a sexist stereotype which if anything just reinforces the myth of the male brain and men having different abilities to women.  I am aware that SB-C is an extremely eminent expert who has studied in this field for decades, I have seen him discussing his research on TV many times so it would have been good to hear more about this. http://www.autismresearchcentre.com/project_15_foetaltst

Whether there are real differences in our brains due to our biology or not I think all of those scientists who presented evidence on the programme would agree that that the differences are small, there is no biological reason to prevent girls studying maths, science and engineering in higher education.  There is no reason for women to under achieve at work and take all the responsibility for home and childcare.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Book about carbon monoxide – publicity leaflet in production as I type

Book about carbon monoxide - publicity leaflet in production as I type

Naked Price Harry & the Tara Plumbing Family

We did our usual tutting as we heard the news last night.  Photo’s of the nude prince. Tut Tut.

As the TV commentators told us he would have to answer to his father, granny, etc…

The photos are not porn, he’s is not having sex, he’s not doing anything illegal.

We totally disagreed with the tone of the story. A young man is naked in the company of other people, why should this even be news? I would like to think it is part of normal life and most people get up to stuff like that (or wished they did).

Well, certainly when they are young, child free, and still have the time and energy for a social life! A distant memory of mine!

If anyone has behaved badly and should be ashamed of themselves it is the person who took photos and then decided to sell them.  And the media is also at fault, making this a story when it is not.

When my children are grown-up I hope they will get to live a lot, including fun nude parties.  But before local people think of inviting Mr Tara Plumbing and myself to any nudist gathering let me warn you we both have dieting and exercises to do before our six-pack tummies can be put on display for a wider audience.

I totally disagree with Thanet MP Roger Gale, he is against same sex marriages

Lesbians & gay men should be able to marry, i have only heard irrational and homophobic reasons against it.

In the Thanet Extra, local MP Gale gives his views and to give him credit at least he does explain exactly why he appears to be anti-equality on this issue despite the fact it will probably cost him votes.

In case you didn’t see the article you can read it here:

http://www.rogergale.com/content_manager/page.php?ID=103551&dbc=5d891f7e77bd7e9af103b108f88afc7f

Be warned it is shcoking stuff in this day and age!

What is marriage? A public statement of a commitment between two people, it is not related to religion, child-rearing, romantic love or to life-long commitment (hence we have childless marriages, marraiges of people too old to have children, divorce and arranged marriages). Marriage goes on across the world, in difficult cultures, different religions, in “primitive” societies and goes way back in history.

Those against “gay marriage” seem to interpret it in a very narrow modern-Christian way.

The common feature to all marriages is the public declaration of a commitment between two people resulting in a set of rules relating to property and income as well as to any off-spring.
I can’t see any reason to have a different set of rules for heterosexual and homosexual couples for these matters in the UK today.

Roger Gale seems to say he is against gay marriage because his church doesn’t allow it.
I think the rules of any church may apply within that organisation but shouldn’t be forced on the rest of us.
No one is going to force Mr Gale to attend a gay wedding are they?
He also tells us his church does not support divorce or second marriages…
Presumably, following the same logic, Mr Gale is also against divorce and second marriage and would vote to repeal the legislation that lets these things happen in this country.
BUT Mr Gale is divorced and re-married!

How come he finds no contradiction in his own personal life and yet feels it perfectly acceptable to publicly justify illogical homophobia?

How come Roger Gale thinks everyone in the UK should be bound by the rules of his church?

I stress marriage in this country is NOT about religion.  Heterosexual couples marry with no reference to religion.  Athiests marry! And many heterosexuals would prefer a civil partnership but, unfortunately, this is only available to same sex couples.

There is more in Roger Gale’s article that I could pick on but I will move on….

I want to end by saying that on lesbian & gay issues thank goodness the UK has moved on a long way.  Twenty years ago employers could SACK staff if they found they were homosexual. Lesbian and gay discrimination was legal and was everywhere. So was the worse of bigotry and violence.

Young people will not remember and will not believe how things were just so recently. Back then you could count the number of OUT gay celeb.s, famous people and MPs on your fingers. These days you would be making a very long list.

Want more info? You can start to find out about Lesbian & Gay Equality/ Discrimination here http://www.stonewall.org.uk/what_we_do/parliamentary/5714.asp

Wikipedia is on Strike!

I’m not sure about the details of the argument but it is interesting the tension between Information & Content being freely available via the web and copyright.

As a blogger I produce Free content myself.  Even though I don’t get paid for my words I would like to have control over them and I don’t want others to copy my work  and use it on their site without my permission or knowledge.

Actually, once I did find 1,000s of my words had been randomly copied and put on another site – across about 15 web pages.  I went through the google complaint about Plagiarism process and eventually the site was closed. It took almost a year, I think, and it is only applicable if the problem site carries google adverts.

Lots of people do not realise that it is a breach of copyright and it is plagiarism to just copy and paste huge chunks from someone else’s website and use it on your own with out any credit or permission from the author.

I think that people who want to make a living from creating art – such as films, music or books – should have control over their work and be paid for it if they want to be.

As I understand it, the Wikipedia protest is not about doing away with copyright but how to protect & enforce copyright in a fair way. You can read about the protest etc here:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:SOPA_initiative/Learn_more


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Mrs TP’s latest tweets….

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