Monday, January 27, 2014

Look at this AMAZING and HILARIOUS advert!

"Bit of a mix up?" LOL "However carefully you plan, things can go wrong." I know the feeling!

As you can see this poor man's glad he bought flexicover (TM) travel insurance because he's been left with a PINK suitcase.

As we all know it cannot possibly be his. No man would ever own a PINK suitcase. Or borrow one off their wife. Or boyfriend. Or just buy one in the shops because it's a nice bright colour and he figures it will be easy to spot at the airport. That would NEVER happen because as we all know...

MAN + PINK SUITCASE = HUMILIATION

Ha ha ha. Who comes up with this stuff? HILARIOUS.

Note: Do not adjust your screen - it is still 2014.

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Sunday, January 19, 2014

Racism and abortion

I always enjoy being on The Big Questions and today was no exception (you can watch here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b007zpll for the next seven days). As usual I spent the whole time with my hand in the air trying to deal with just a few of the obnoxious things people were expressing from all sides (don't even get me started on the man who thinks children can be possessed by the devil!).  There was one point I didn't get to respond to on air which I really really wanted to (unsurprisingly) ... the allegations that my views on sex-selective abortion are somehow racist  or culturally insensitive.

The claim (for those who missed the show) is that some women from certain cultural groups - India was mentioned - are under great pressure from their families to have boys and therefore we should ban doctors from telling women the sex of their foetus in order to make it harder for them to be forced into having abortions.  It was also claimed that women from these communities are at risk of domestic violence if they give birth to girls.  So...

1. As it happened both the Asian women on the show agreed with the claim. This doesn't mean all Asian women agree, nor does it mean that I shouldn't express my differing opinion out of "respect". In fact it would be disrespectful to (a) not represent the views of Asian women not included in the show's line up and (b) act as though these women are incapable of dealing with debate or holding their own. [And for note I have no idea in advance about who will be on the show and no control over it.]

2. A foetus is a part of a woman's body while it is growing. She should have the right to know any information she wants to about it. Or not if she doesn't. It's her body.

3. I would rather a woman have the freedom to get an abortion if she wants one than that she be put at risk of domestic violence. Obviously.

4. If a woman feels she wants to continue a pregnancy but knows she will be at risk of violence or other abuse if she does (for any reason) she should be offered a place in a refuge and support to rebuild her life away from the people who are threatening her. Also obviously.

5. The alternative is this. A white woman says "I wanted to be pregnant but now my partner's ill and I've just lost my job, I'd like an abortion." And I say "ok, that's your choice". A brown woman says "I wanted to have a baby but now I've discovered it's a female foetus and this could put me at risk of violence, I'd like an abortion". And I say "no, your choice is not valid". Guess what that would be? Racist.

In fact no-one has an abortion for a single reason. And no-one has an abortion purely because of the sex of the foetus. These cases (and in the UK, the British Pregnancy Advisory Service, who perform a third of all abortions say they are not aware of any ethnic groups seeking sex-selective terminations) in fact are about women choosing abortion because of the combination of the sex of the foetus, the cultural norms of the community and family they live in and the alternative support options open to them.  We should be focussed on changing the cultural norms and giving these women a better and wider range of support options.

Otherwise we effectively turn to women who have been deprived of the understanding that girls can have successful careers, make money, achieve great things and make families very proud and tell them that since they're deprived of that knowledge we're going to deprive them of some other knowledge too. Welcome (back) to the dark ages!!

Of course we also have to consider the other likely consequences. If these families are so determined to force women to abort female foetuses what is to stop:

1. Dangerous, illegal backstreet scans and abortions?
2. Women being sent to other countries for scans and abortions (including places where maternal death rates are much higher and women's rights - for example to seek help if they experience violence - are not well enforced)?
3. Women claiming to have a family history of breast cancer or other gender-specific illness in order to create a medical reason for being told their foetus's sex?
4. These unwanted girls being cruelly mistreated?

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Friday, January 10, 2014

Daily Fail vs Fat Thuts line-by-line

Did you make a new year's resolution? Maybe to quit smoking or make time to visit an elderly relative? The Daily Fail have resolved to keep finding more reasons for women to hate their bodies.  Perhaps you don't have cellulite (normal legs), skin blemishes (freckles), muffin top (not a problem for those of us who wear onesies all day), side boob (or is that a good one? I prefer mine on the front.), cankles (no idea but apparently Cheryl Cole's got one so probably anger management issues and a tendency to racism), crow's feet (these are considered very sexy on crows though), witch's hands (probably caused by choking journalists to death). Fear not, you too can hate your normal natural body thanks to the Daily Fail's pioneering efforts to rebrand your it as a source of shame and horror.

To which end may I present ladies and gentlemen: The THUT!!  Allow me to explain, one line at a time...

"Fitness experts have claimed that our sedentary lifestyles mean more women are losing the definition between their thighs and their butt than ever before."

Than ever before? Can someone show me the graph of this? How many women were losing butt-thigh definition in the 1860s? We need to know. That's probably why they all wore those big hoop skirts. Aha!!

"The ‘thut’ as it was coined  by NYmag.com, is when the muscles on the back of a woman’s legs are undeveloped – leading their butt and thigh to appear as a single piece of anatomy."

Yes ladies and remember your bodies must always be made up of separate anatomical items so you're nice and easy to objectify. For more info see our celebrity pages (2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26 and 27 in today's issue).

"According to experts, the issue is caused by a lack of targeted muscle tone and does not reflect the physical anatomy for a flat derrière."

Who are these "flat derriere experts"? How do you apply for that job? What is going on?

"‘It’s not the same thing,’ Cynthia Shipley, an instructor with True Pilates told MailOnline. ‘You have to look for definition, if the hamstrings are developed and if the buttocks is lifted.’"

How ironic for the Daily Fail to quote a woman from an organisation with "True" in the name. But she's not an expert, she's a gym teacher, with classes to sell. That's like saying the "nutrition experts" at Cadbury's think we should eat more Creme Eggs. Mind you, the Daily Mail would probably publish that story too.

"The thut's muscular origins are part of a postural support group that help dictate standing, lifting, and walking movements."

Yes the third year of a medical degree involves an in-depth study of the thut. You'll often have heard medical experts refer to Daily Mail journos as "a bloody great pain in the thut".

"The grouping's lack of development can be attributed to a shift in working culture, where many Americans sit in a desk chair all day rather than working in manual-labor-intensive occupations."

Is the Daily Mail an American paper now? But don't people in sedentary jobs also not exercise their legs and torsos much? Did the Daily Mail only just notice there was something between?

"Circles of online writers have thus begun referring to the issue as 'blogger butt'."

Could that be the word of 2014? And isn't the word "thut" enough? Do we need more made-up nonsense words? Or as I like to call them Turdinologies.

"Valerie Samulski, the Pilates coordinator for YogaWorks in New York further emphasized the thut’s muscle tone quotient. ‘It just makes it look like your but has dropped down into your leg, you lose that lift – it looks like mush and in fact it is,’ she said."

Sorry the "muscle tone quotient" - a quotient is the relationship between two numbers. Which two numbers are we talking about here? And no part of a woman's body is made of "mush", you might legitimately use the term as an analogy, but to describe it as "fact" is definitely nonsense.

"Ms Samulski says the thut ‘is not genetic – it’s really just a product of muscle tone and definition. It may be harder for someone to shape their muscles because of genetics, but mostly this is a problem of tone and proper use.’"

Body shape is a mixture of genetics and training? STOP PRESS!! Why has this never bee mentioned before?!

"While NYmag widely introduced thut terminology to the fitness-obsessed earlier this week with an instructional article, many fitness experts admitted to MailOnline that they had not yet heard of the word (though Ms Samulski admitted that, until now, she has referred to it as the butt-leg)."

No way - so a made-up word that was made up this week hasn't yet been adopted by everyone? And thank goodness! I wasn't happy with just the words "thut" and "blogger butt", I also need to use "butt leg" to insult myself.

"Research shows, however, that the thut has been included in fitness vernacular for at least the last three years."

Quit the etymology and get on with telling me how to hate myself already!

"Its mention began appearing in TRX-workout-centric articles circa 2011, and the first Urban Dictionary entry dedicated to the thut was created in 2007."

Commit this stuff to memory - you know it'll be on QI next week. (Also note that earlier in the same article they claim the word was "coined" by NYMag. BY their own admission, a lie.)

"In conversation, though, experts found the term superfluous and representative of 'another aesthetic obsession that people are latching on to because it is another way of judging if you are fit,' says Annie Mulgrew, the director of programming at City Row – New York City’s first-ever interval rowing studio, which opened just this week."

"Interestingly the Daily Mail journo googled "superfluous and judgemental" to come up with the idea for the article" says Kate Smurthwaite who is appearing at the Churchill Theatre in Bromley tomorrow.

"HOW TO LOSE YOUR 'THUT'"

Hang on - I only just got it. Let me enjoy it for a few minutes first ok?

"Om Factory's Michelle Velasquez says that practitioners should focus on ‘squats and lifting’ as a solution."

Practitioners of what? Self loathing?

"Annie Mulgrew of City Row pinpoints rowing as a feasible fix. The exercise has recently come to the fitness forefront for its ability to work the legs with minimal joint impact, ‘toning and lengthening them very quickly,’ she says."

Aha - the woman who runs the rowing gym thinks the best exercise is rowing. And now over to Jim at Squat-U-Like...

"And YogaWorks Pilates coordinator Valerie Samulski offered that any floor exercise ‘where the legs are behind the body and you are working at raising them in gravity,’ like the yoga poses dhanurasana and shalabhasana, will help."

Hello? Is that The Times? I've got a story for you, hold the front page. Yoga teacher reckons you should do yoga. Thank me later.

"But if a thut does create aesthetic-related anxiety, gravitational exercises involving leg lifts, squats, and isolated weight training can help alleviate the issue."

A thut doesn't create aesthetic-related anxiety. Articles in national papers telling me what's "wrong" with my body do that. Here's an exercise you can try. Bend at the waist and throw the paper in a dustbin.

"Ms Mulgrew says that ‘your legs muscles, your quads, hamstrings, calves, and your gluts can all be toned and in doing so you can absolutely create definition so that your butt appears lifted and firmed.’"

Muscles can be toned. Other things that will make your butt appear lifted and firmed include holding it with your hands, balancing it on a small ledge and having it photoshopped.

"She cautioned, though, that while thuts are fixable, ‘people have different body types and they have to respect that. Men and women also tone very differently.’"

My body type is "gets angry near patronising yoga teachers".

"Michelle Velasquez, a yoga instructor at Manhattan's Om Factory says that ‘when it comes to butt definition you can grow a butt. You won’t be a big booty chick, but you can grow muscle. You will get a little bump or something,’"

Scientists have been trying to grow a butt in the lab for years. I think maybe everyone involved in this article has already had a little bump. On the head.

"She was also careful to note that tight denim pants are likely the only article of clothing in which a thut would prominently appear."

I'm glad she was careful to note that, you wouldn't want her just flippantly saying any old nonsense. Otherwise she'd never make it as a yoga instructor - she'd be snapped up by the Daily Mail's editorial team.

"Thut or no thut, Ms Samulski says that the area’s overall health is important for its role in the postural support group: ‘It should be toned because it helps you stand properly.’"

Great advice. I remember only the other day seeing a man lying limply in the street and shouting "call a pilates instructor, quick!".

In next week's news: How can you lose your armbow? Can't wear min-skirts because of your knalf? Considering surgery for your heck? Why not have your unsightly brain removed and replaced with some expert-approved mush? It worked wonders for our house writers.




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Thursday, November 28, 2013

Holy crap - I did not think I could get any angrier.

I've made a point on here before about (1) why the Huffington Post has a special section on "divorce" and (2) how that section is full of very bad and ill-considered advice.  This latest piece however is offensive and incredibly dangerous so it's unsurprising to find it was written by Laura Doyle, author of "The Surrendered Wife" - a whole book about how to improve your relationship by shutting up and pretending you like it. Vom. Again vom. Hold it. Hold it. Ok one more. VOM!!!

This article has the charming 1950s-theme title "Women: Five Reasons Your Divorce Is Your Fault"* and here's every last appalling word shredded as hard as I damn well can. How dare she?


"I teach intimacy skills, but not to couples and not to men."

From the title of your piece I'm guessing your target audience is only allowed out on day release.

"I only teach them to women because we are the ones who have the power to make our relationships intimate."

Yes one person, on their own, can make a relationship intimate. That definitely works.

"When a woman learns intimacy skills, her relationship becomes passionate and peaceful in about two weeks."

Firstly - this reads like an advert. Secondly - if it is, it needs reporting to the advertising standards authority because it's bullshit.

"Clients often say, "I feel like I have a new husband.""

Ok listen up ladies. There is only one was to feel like you have a new husband. That is to get a new husband.

"But he's not the one who changed -- she did, and then he responds to her differently."

How irresponsible is this? Whatever he does, however cruel, violent, indifferent, dishonest, unpleasant... it's her fault. Vom. (There's gonna be a lot of vom I think.)

"That's how it always is when a woman has a good guy."

Oh a "good guy"? Remind me where the label is, I never can find it.

"Of course, not all guys are good guys."

Actually it is rude and offensive to men to imagine there are just "good guys" and "bad guys". In fact men are a bit more varied than that.

"If your husband is actively addicted to drugs, alcohol or gambling, or is physically abusive, or not capable of being faithful, yours is a divorce I endorse."

So physically abusive, I can leave but mentally abuse it's my fault. V... v...

"Safety comes first and you're not safe in those situations because his compulsion will always come before you."

I am honestly offended that she even pretends to have the safety of women at heart. Abuse takes many forms, it's not as simple as physical violence, addiction and infidelity. And even without abuse of any kind, if a relationship isn't working and you feel it's time to leave you can and you should. You do not need this evil woman to "endorse" your divorce. I endorse it. Go ahead.

"But if he doesn't fall into one of those categories, he's a good guy -- not a perfect guy, but one you can have a wonderful relationship with when you learn the skills that contribute to intimacy."

Yeah I mean if he just steals from you and calls you fat and stupid, he's one of the good guys. Yeah?

"Below are five ways that women unwittingly sabotage their marriages, along with the proven remedies for restoring the love and closeness you once shared."

Silly women, ruining their marriages, all on their own, with absolutely no help from their partners.

"1. Rejecting his efforts to make you happy"

Sorry where does it even say he makes efforts to make you happy?

"Husbands and wives bring different strengths and desires to marriage."

All men are alike and so are all women. Remember reading that in those science journals?! This is probably why it's impossible to have a relationship with two men or two women.

"For women, feeling cherished and desired is vital."

Ain't that right girlzzz?!! You know it...

"For a man, respect and sex are of utmost importance."

Hold up! I get cherished and desired and he gets respect and sex? I think I might be a man. And I also think that people have to earn respect and that you shouldn't have sex with anyone you don't want to.

"Men also have a powerful drive to make their wives happy -- it contributes to their feeling of success."

Some of them have a really funny way of showing it. Shouting, leaving all the housework to you, spending more time with their mates, for example.

"You might think that your husband is the exception -- that he doesn't care about delighting you -- but he may just be discouraged because he doesn't feel that he can please you."

Yes he may be. Or he may not.

"You have the power to transform your relationship by becoming pleasable, which means showing appreciation for his efforts instead of rejecting or dismissing them -- and by extension, him."

Whatever he does - act pleased. "Oh honey, I see you've left your dirty pants on the floor as a gift! You're so kind."

"When you reject his efforts because they aren't what you had in mind (e.g., a present that isn't what you want, cleaning that's not to your standards, or a compliment you don't agree with), there's nothing he can do to improve the situation, but there is something powerful you can do: receive graciously."

There's lots he can do to improve the situation. Exchange the gift, clean more thoroughly and be more thoughtful in what he says. And remind me, what exactly should I do if he doesn't bring me presents, clean or compliment me?  Oh that's right - blame myself, yes?

"Remedy: Try an experiment for the next two weeks: However small or imperfect his efforts, receive what your husband offers when he is trying to please or help you."

Within two weeks he'll have decided you're perfectly happy with shit all over the bathroom floor and box set of a series you don't like for your birthday. That'll make your relationship better eh?

"Thank him for his thoughtfulness."

Thoughtfulness would mean getting the present I actually wanted.

"Notice how quickly this creates more intimacy as you practice the skill of receiving graciously."

Ah yes, the vast improvement in intimacy that comes from lying through your teeth. Well known that.

"2. Taking the same approach at home as you do at work"

Well lets see, I'm a comedian. The usual way I interact with people at work I talk to them through a microphone, they sit in silence and laugh and if they interrupt me to talk I take the mickey out of them for doing so. All these years I've been coming home and replicating that. Was it a mistake?

"We women can create a gratifying culture of intimacy, if we know how."

Is she talking about starting a lesbian commune...? Interesting idea.

"If all we've ever been taught is how to get ahead in school and career, but not how to foster intimacy, it's pretty hard to change hats when the work day is done and we want a loving, supportive home."

Is that all women have been taught? Amazing the pay gap's still so big then eh?

"At work we have to manage projects and staff, move the bottom line and get that promotion."

No at work I have to tell jokes. Women. Not. All. Same. Capiche?

"At home the goals are different; we want to feel appreciated and wanted and get more help around the house."

Get more help around the house? Who says housework is a woman's job and the best she can hope for is for a guy to "help"? I don't want a guy to help. I want him to take responsibility for at least half of it. Hopefully more. I'm busy.

"But if you treat your husband like an employee, he will rebel."

You better hope he doesn't unionise. Also he's only an employee if you are the one who manages the home. And that doesn't have to be your job. If he acts like an employee, waiting to be told what to do - and then doing it badly - you have a problem.

"Respecting your husband by saying what you want instead of telling him what to do gives him the opportunity to make you happy in a way that no amount of managing ever will."

Great advice - be passive aggressive. Don't ask him to do things directly, just sit around dropping hints. "I really want that litter tray to no longer contain cat faeces." (roll eyes upwards, whistle)

"Remedy: For two weeks say what you want, but not what he should do or how he should do it."

For example say "I want a clean bathroom floor". But remember when he only wipes the taps you have to act thrilled even though the bin's overflowing and there's something that looks like shit on the floor.

"Be patient and allow him to find his own way of pleasing you."

Sit around in a relationship that doesn't work and pretend it does...?

"Remember, he wants to. Let him, and he will."

That's the big problem, eh? All these guys out there dying to be better husbands and us awful women just not letting them. Thank goodness Laura Doyle is on hand to set us straight. Ok, trying to resist but... Vom.

"3. Withholding sex"

Vom, vom, vom. If you don't want to have sex - don't.

"Most men need sex more than women to feel intimate."

Where's the science on this? The idea that men want more sex than women is not supported by science. It's a dangerous myth that leads to hyper-masculinised culture and feelings of shame and inadequacy on all sides.

"You are his only source for that vital form of connecting, and when you withhold -- whether to punish or because you're exhausted -- you miss a chance to receive the intimacy that you both crave."

What about if he's the one who doesn't want sex? Or does every relationship fit your brain-dead one-size-fits-all model? Because all men are horny all the time and all women are horrified by this, right?

"Remedy: Over the next two weeks as you start experiencing more intimacy, consider making yourself available for sex at least once a week in support of your mutual goal of connecting."

Has anyone EVER advised men to improve their relationship by "making themselves available for sex"? The whole phrase makes it sound like sex is something men do to women, who just lie there and put up with it. If this is how it works in your relationship - that is a problem.

"4. Initiating divorce when the problem isn't insurmountable"

If the other person doesn't want to address the problem - the problem is insurmountable. Unless you're in one of those one-person marriages.

"Women initiate between 66% and 90% of all divorces."

Thank you science. What does initiate mean in this context anyway? Maybe sometimes men initiate by being a pain in the backside and women relent and admit there's a problem. The evidence also shows at least 75% of women say they are happier one year after divorce, so on the whole women were right to initiate.

"You might think that's because men do things to make marriage untenable -- like cheat or hit them -- but I hear about women divorcing because he didn't help with the baby, he was emotionally unavailable, or because they grew apart."

Hands up everyone who wants to spend the rest of their life with an emotionally unavailable guy who doesn't help with the baby?  Also it's not "helping" with the baby - it's his kid too and his job too to take responsibility for the baby.

"Countless women tell me they divorced because their husbands weren't capable of meeting their needs."

And you tell them sorry, no bruises? Then this helpful counsellor can't endorse the divorce. You need to try pretending to be happy and having sex when you don't want to.

"When the women I work with learn intimacy skills, it changes the way they see a previous marriage."

Yes when you tell women their relationship problems are all their own fault it probably does make them feel like crap.

"Some women tell me that they realize they were married to a good guy, but divorced because they lacked the skills to have a happy relationship."

Some people believe your bullshit? What a shame.

"Sometimes it causes them enormous grief."

Then don't say such horrid untrue things if you know it's going to upset people. It's called bullying.

"It is heartbreaking to see marriages end because of a simple lack of skills."

It is and that's why home economics, cooking and cleaning should be on the national curriculum for both girls and boys.

"It's no different than seeing someone try to drive a car without a single lesson: A crash is inevitable, but it's preventable."

It's very different. Many people who have never even heard of your advice and indeed think it's utter bullcrap have happy and successful relationships. And I'd also bet some people do exactly what you say and it makes them really miserable.

"Remedy: Consider taking divorce off the table just for the next two weeks, keeping in mind that intimacy needs safety to thrive."

So to recap - you wanted to divorce this guy because he gets shit presents, doesn't do his share of the housework or the child care, says thoughtless things and demands sex all the time when you don't want it. And her advice is to pretend you don't want a divorce, not challenge him about the housework or child care, pretend you like the presents and the weird compliments and give him sex whenever he wants? Well I'm sure he'll love that but what exactly are you getting out of this? Aside from exhausted?

"In my experience, any woman who has a good guy can bring her marriage back from the brink of divorce and transform it into a happy, loving relationship by practicing the intimacy skills."

Pretending to be happy when you're not really shouldn't be called an intimacy skill. If anything it's an acting skill.

"You can do the same."

Yes you - you with the guy who steals your money. You with the guy who's just realised he's gay. You with the guy who screams at you and calls you a bitch. All you have to do is say "thank you for the compliment" and do all the housework yourself.  Even if this shit worked, at best it would create the fake appearance of a happy relationship. A good relationship means you get to ask for what you want.

"5. Waiting for him to improve"

So mistake number four is initiating a divorce and mistake number five is waiting? And doing either of these things make the relationship mess your fault? Of course!

"You might wonder why there's no article for men explaining what they can do to improve their marriages."

I think it's because you're a nasty evil misogynist Laura. Anyone else?

"Even if there was, you couldn't make your husband read it or do what it says. "


Are you in a relationship with a guy who would refuse to read a newspaper article if you told him it was important to you that he did?  I will not date this guy. He's a tosser.


"You can change yourself, and he will respond to you differently."

Yes - change yourself. Vom. Just be someone else. Someone who likes shit on the bathroom floor and crap presents.

"Remedy: Instead of pleading, criticizing or demanding that your husband change, try the remedies above for two weeks."

Yes don't try to change things by directly challenging problems or talking to him like an adult. Instead sneak around lying to him in the hope that you can manipulate him into changing.

"To learn how, get the free 17-page e-book Six Lessons for Lasting Love at LauraDoyle.org"

Yes this is a line in an ARTICLE on Huffington Post. They should admit they're no longer about journalism, they're just a blog for marketers. Creepy misogynist ones.

"If you want peace in your marriage, then let it begin with you."

If you want anything in your marriage then both of you have to have a frank talk about it and agree on a plan. If you don't do this fairly regularly anyway there's not much hope for you.

Bottom line is this - the message that "the problem is you" and "I'm just reacting to you" is EXACTLY what emotionally abusive partners say to retain control. And just because a guy isn't violent or on hard drugs doesn't mean he's a "good guy". In fact maybe this article is all a clever trick. Show it to your man, if he thinks it makes any good points, dump him - he's an emotional abuser.

To suggest that women and women alone are responsible for making relationships work, that housework and childcare are the woman's responsibility, that divorce is always a bad thing which must involve blame, that men are all the same and women all the same, that gender roles should be strictly adhered to. These are attitudes from a bygone era. And then, and now, they're bollocks.


PS Dear Laura, while I was writing this my boyfriend has cleaned out the cupboard under the sink of his own volition. I have no idea what my husband was doing, he hasn't lived here for nearly two years. Please remind me what I'm supposed to feel bad about, it's so confusing.

*Do not adjust your clock, it is still 2013. I know.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

36 Facts About Divorce - Corrected Version

Why exactly the Huffington Post thinks it needs a special section on the subject of divorce is beyond me. I never turned on the news to hear "And after the sports headlines we'll be getting a brief update on global divorce news". And for the record I don't think sports are news either!  Today a particular piece caught my eye and ire. And I do have some experience in the matter so here's a corrected version of "36 Things I Wish Someone Told Me About Divorce".


"1. It's nothing at all like when your husband was away on business and it was nice to have the bed to yourself. That gets old. You get lonely."

1. Once you're divorced you can sleep around guilt-free.

"2. He's not going to be there. Ever. Never again in the way that he was. He's gone. For good."

2. That was the point. If you wanted him around you wouldn't have gotten divorced.

"3. Don't rush things unless you are in an abusive situation."

3. Don't waste your life putting up with something that isn't right and doesn't make you happy.

"4. You may want to hide when you are first going through divorce. You won't want to talk about it with anyone."

4. Yes you may feel this way. Or you may not. You may want to go out and enjoy yourself. That's ok too.

"5. You will have to remind yourself that you are not a failure. That the relationship simply ran its course, it had an expiration date."

5. If anyone tries to suggest that divorce is a sign of "failure" stop being friends with them and don't go to their church.

"6. You may never feel truly sure you made the right decision particularly if you have children together."

6. Or you might be confident that this is the best thing for you. And the best thing for you IS the best thing for your kids, they don't want to be raised by two people who don't want to be together.

"7. There is going to be an in-law situation and you won't know how to carry on your relationship with them."

7. You can stay friends with the in-laws if you want. You don't have to. Mine are lovely, we hang out.

"8. When your kids are sick, you are the only one home to care for them and he's not there to ask him for help."

8. You might need childcare support. The absent parent should help with this, financially or practically.

"9. When you are sick, he is no longer there to care for you."

9. Lets hope your hot new boyfriend knows how to stick a Lemsip in the microwave.

"10. You will miss his cooking, even if he isn't a good cook, but simply because there was someone else there to make meals and it isn't all on you. And if he was a good cook, it's going to be even harder."

10. If you had a long day - you can order delivery food. Or just have a sandwich.

"11. You still may call him by the pet name you had for him and it slips out when discussing a matter and it hangs there in the air and hurts."

11. If you ever called him "snugglewumps" in Starbucks you are weird.

"12. If you thought talking about money with your husband was hard, try talking about money with your ex-husband."

12. If it was always a problem talking about money, you were right to consider divorce.

"13. There will be no more "stay here with the kids for an hour so I can run out to do errands.""

13. You can say "stay here with the kids for an hour so I can run out to do errands." to neighbours, friends, relatives, that hot new boyfriend or your lodger. Also you can drop them off with an absent parent and have a spa day.

"14. It may feel natural to reach out to hold onto his arm when you go out for coffee to discuss the kids, but you aren't supposed to hold onto his arm anymore."

14. Missing out on intimacy? Buy a dildo.

"15. You will miss your wedding ring... feeling it there on your finger and what it represented."

15. Your wedding ring represented a relationship that wasn't working. Take it off.

"16. Your wedding album is like a ghost."

16. Why are you sat around flicking through old photos? Go out and get laid.

"17. You won't know what to do with your wedding dress."

17. The only people who ever get to re-use a wedding dress are divorcees.

"18. If you knew what you knew now, you wouldn't have spent all that money on that wedding dress. Instead you should have banked it to save for couples' therapy."

18. Couples therapy is usually overpriced.

"19. You might have to politely ask your parents to take down your wedding photo they still have hanging on the wall in the living room because it hurts too much to see it."

19. If your parents keep some photos up it should save you all that time spent flicking through old albums.

"20. It's not easy. Not even if you are the one who wanted a divorce."

20. Being in a relationship that doesn't work is exhausting. Making some meals for one is not so bad.

"21. You'll wonder if he's dating someone new and if he's thinking she's better than you."

21. You'll start dating someone new. That'll take your mind off things.

"22. When he gets serious with another woman, dealing with that woman being around your children is going to be harder than you could ever imagine."

22. Great news, if he starts seeing someone else she can help look after your kids while you run those errands. Plus kids benefit from relationships with a wide range of adults.

"23. After all the hurt subsides, you remember all the good things and sort of forget the bad and the hurt starts again but in a different way."

23. The relationship ended for a reason. It wasn't working.

"24. What if... there will be lots of these."

24. What if you meet someone great? What if you get a job on a tropical island?

"25. You will look at your kids, that are his kids too, and wonder how in the world are you going to be able to make it through all these holidays for the rest of your lives and still figure out how to be a family that is no longer living together."

25. Your kids will grow up. Then they can choose where to spend Christmas. As can you.

"26. You may notice it feels weird to still have the gifts he's given to you over the years, even if it's something as mundane as a toaster. And you may start having nostalgia about the toaster."

26. You may need counselling.

"27. You might fondle the silverware gifted to you at your bridal shower and feel bad that all your friends and family gave you all these wonderful gifts for a marriage that didn't last."

27. Who the hell fondles silverware? Get a vibrator.

"28. You may worry some of your friends might be thinking about those gifts they gifted you."

28. Anyone more bothered about the gift they bought you than about your wellbeing is not your friend.

"29. You may lose some friends."

29. You'll have more time to spend with your friends. You may gain some friends, reconnect with some old ones.

"30. Some of your family may not understand why you are getting divorced and that can be very challenging to deal with on top of dealing with divorce itself."

30. If your family are unsympathetic, divorce them too.

"31. There will be a bit of pain when you refer to him as "Daddy" to your kids, but that's his name and how he's addressed, so you must deal."

31. Use whatever term you're comfortable with. Your kids will adapt.

"32. You are going to want to confide in your ex because you are so used to doing so, but you have to learn how to stop doing that."

32. You're going to want to spend more time with friends. That'll be nice.

"33. It may take a long time for you to be "friends" -- whatever that means. It may never happen."

33. You can stay friends. You don't have to.

"34. There will be a time when your kids will wonder how the two of you were ever together in the first place. They may never even remember a time when you were together."

34. Your kids will grow up. You will wonder if they were ever small. You will be glad you didn't raise them in a house full of arguments.

"35. You remember what it was like to fall in love with the man you married and you truly wonder how in the world did it all fall apart."

35. You might wonder how you hung in there so longer.

"36. The above makes you terrified to ever get married again."

36. Next time you get into a serious relationship you'll probably do things differently.

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Saturday, October 12, 2013

WOW, in every sense

Yesterday for International Day of the Girl I took part in a mentoring session on the London Eye with some teenage girls from Tower Hamlets. This was being organised by the Women of the World/WOW team at the South Bank Centre (in case you thought I had just hijacked the London Eye). And here's a lovely photo of the rainbow that showed up halfway through to remind us about the importance of gay rights or that God sometimes needs to drown people.

One of the conversations I had shocked me to the core. A thirteen year old girl told me that when she grows up she wants to be a physicist. Awesome, right? Then she asked me about GCSE choices. I said "do all the sciences". She explained that her school only lets a few students do all three sciences, and she doubted they'd pick her. So I suggested writing to her head teacher, talking to her science teachers, generally making a fuss, etc. At this point her teacher who was monitoring the mentoring stepped in and advised her to "pick which two sciences she liked best". The girl said physics and biology. The teacher advised dropping chemistry.

I jumped back in to the conversation and said if you want to be a physicist you need to do chemistry GCSE too. The girl said she wanted to do chemistry, but it was the science she found the hardest so they wouldn't let her do it.

Then I asked both of them, the girl and the teacher, what other GCSEs she would do. The teacher replied "everyone does English, everyone does Maths and everyone does R.E."!

A thirteen year old girl from a deprived inner city area who dreams of being a scientist is being forced to study religion instead of chemistry?

I am going to turn green and smash things.

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Wednesday, May 01, 2013

Angela Epstein again. Line-by-line

I think Angela Epstein just gets up in the morning and thinks "what can I do to set women's rights back a decade by lunchtime?". Or maybe she thinks "what would really piss Kate Smurthwaite off?". Well her latest effort "Why it's every wife's duty to make other men fancy her"is a spectacular success on both fronts? Here's how:

"Standing in front of the bedroom mirror, I give my reflection one last appreciative glance. I’ve got a night out with some female colleagues at a swanky new bar, and I’m determined to look my very best."

Determined? In spite of all the odds stacked against me? Determined to battle every obstacle like the Indiana Jones of the Boots cosmetic section. Well good for you. I usually do my make-up on the bus to make time for an extra glass of prosecco, but you have it your way.

"Arrogant as it may sound, I’m happy with what I see: freshly blow-dried hair, carefully applied lipstick, a pair of leg-stretching killer heels and a dress that manages to be both sexy and elegant."

Both sexy AND elegant? Stop press! Well lets hope there's no human rights abuses going on in Syria today cos we are not going to have time to write about them!

"All that’s needed is a final spritz of perfume — just enough to entice, not too much to overpower — and I grab my clutch and keys and head for the door."

She's like Carrie Bradshaw isn't she? I keep my keys already in my rucksack. The last thing I do before I leave the house is have a piss.

"Tonight, I want to attract a man. Not because I’m some predatory divorcee out to bag a scalp, nor because I’m a mistress-in-waiting looking for a little extra-curricular activity."

Sorry - is there some law against divorced women dating? Most divorced women I know like going to the cinema and a little light S&M, I don't know any who eat their date and put his head in a bag.

"No, I am a happily married woman, with no interest in any man other than my lovely husband of 20 years, Martin, the father of our four children."

Phew! For a minute there I thought it was my job to hate you, but no, you're sticking to the official rules of the patriarchy.  And really? No interest in any other man? You should watch more Ryan Gosling movies.

"But that doesn’t stop me from making sure that whenever I’m 'on show', be it at a social event with Martin, a work engagement or — in the case of tonight — out with a few girlfriends, I dress in a way that will attract male attention."

When you're "on show"? What is this? Crufts?

"A recipe for trouble? I don’t think so. It’s critical for a married woman, however happy she is, to make herself desirable to other men."

Other men who you have no interest in?  Well since you have so much free time, why not apply for a job you don't want or enter a competition you don't want to win?

"And before all those sour-faced, school-run mums with their hands up a chicken or their elbows in a twin tub start hurling their curlers at me, let me explain."

Yeah I hate women who cook or do laundry for their kids, don't you? And what do you think those curlers are for? They're to make your hair look curly. Presumably so random men will fancy you.

"Some women dress to impress other women — so they’ll pass the brutal, look-you-up-and-down appraisal routine practised by all judgemental ladies."

Yes judgemental people are awfully judgemental aren't they? You might want to get new friends, cos my mates don't give a hoot if I show up for a party in my pyjamas.*

"But I’m not interested in what other women think. Men are the barometer by which my attractiveness to my husband can be measured, ensuring I never take his interest in me for granted."

So you value men's opinions but not women's? You are SO writing for the right paper.

"It’s easy, after years of marriage, to assume your husband will fancy you no matter how you look. And at the end of a busy day, with four children to take care of, it can take a lot of effort to — well — make an effort."

Yes raising four children must be very hard work. I suggest afterwards put your feet up and have some wine. Stop beating yourself up. Perhaps your husband could try being grateful for all the work you do and supportive?

"Bad habits set in... not bothering with make-up when you both go to the cinema (who’s going to notice your sallow complexion in the dark?)... ditching your contact lenses for your pebble-thick glasses if it’s just a quick supper at the local gastropub..."

How are these bad habits? Being ugly is not "bad". And being ugly in the dark definitely isn't bad.

"I see married women all the time in their ugly shoes or with their badly concealed baby weight, tagging alongside an uninterested spouse."

What would be the point of dressing up fancy for someone who isn't interested? And presumably he's in hot pants, right?

"These women are, I’m afraid, inviting their man to stray."

Anything that doesn't start "darling I've heard about this great swingers party...", isn't an invitation to "stray".

"For, reprehensible as it is for any man to cheat, a woman who no longer values her own sexiness is compounding any potential weakness on her husband’s part."

How can you value your own sexiness? You're a woman so you consider your own opinion invalid!

"The way to keep him interested is to make him insecure — show him that other men are interested in you, so he’d better value what he’s got."

Ah yes, the key to all brilliant marriages: insecurity. Here are some other top tips: why not paint spots and wrinkles on him with make-up while he sleeps and start a rumour on Facebook that he's a sex pest. Who's he going to leave you for when all the other chicks in town think he's a pervert with bad skin?

"I realise that mine isn’t a popular view. The other evening, I went for a drink with a female work friend. I was in tight-fitting jeans, full make-up and high heels; her notion of dressing up was to take off her apron."

What was she wearing under the apron? Lingerie? Maybe she doesn't care what you think. MAybe you were being judgemental. Maybe she's having a tough, stressful time and wanted a drink with a sympathetic friend. Oooops.  And we all know you HAVE to wear high heels Angela because of your awful cankles. Also what was achieved here? Even if all the men in the bar were queuing up to offer you a drink and their business card, you would have to have gone home and told your husband about it to deliberately try and make him jealous. Making you weird.

"I explained my theory, only for her to snarl: 'If my husband’s seen me give birth, he can cope with me in an old top and jeans.'"

Wow, why do these smart people hang out with you? And is "snarl" just tabloid speak for "said while being ugly". And do your friends know you talk about them like this?

"But that’s precisely the point. Your spouse remembers only too well watching his beautiful bride transformed into an enormous, foul-mouthed harpy on the delivery table."

Hopefully he remembers the magical day he became a parent and the brave woman who went through all that pain. Maybe you date different guys to me.

"He knows how you look in the morning with last night’s make-up landsliding down your face and hair matted like the bottom of a cat basket."

Of course he looks great in the morning with a hangover and his make-up everywhere! (Or doesn't he bother wearing make-up when you go out? Uh oh, license to stray alert!!)

"If that’s all you ever show him, it’s simply inevitable that he’ll take you for granted."

You have quite a dim view of women. And quite a weird life if you are only ever hungover or in labour.

"Sure, he may love you — but when you stop showing him your desirable side, his attraction to you will become as tired and routine as the weekend shop."

Love is, of course, not enough. He needs to be horny all the time. And what about him? What alluring ensemble has he plumped for? Jeans and a faded polo shirt again? Ooops.  It's like he's begging you to shag every guy you meet.

"That’s why you have to remind him that other men find you sexy — otherwise you dent his delicate male ego by suggesting he’s not worth scrubbing up for."

So you scrub up for other men to remind him that you're willing to scrub up for him? No doubt he understands your message loud and clear!

"Remember, if he married you, he must have fancied you (once)."

Maybe he could help, maybe over breakfast he could occasionally mutter "you used to be quite attractive"... You could return the favour by peering up for your Cheerios and whispering "I used to want to have sex with you".

"I’m a hard-working, multi-tasking, mother-of-four battling encroaching age and fatigue."

Guess who is eventually going to win in the gripping battle between you and age? Yup, not you. And wouldn't it be more useful to put your top battling skills into battling for better childcare provision and more support for working parents? Then when you make some progress you can treat yourself to a spa day...

"I would describe my looks — without some clever M&S upholstery and a load of cosmetics — as utterly ordinary."

Oh I see, so sorry, this article wasn't intended for me at all - I'm gorgeous.

"But that just makes me work even harder."

If you want to "work" on improving your relationship - spend time together, do something you enjoy. Don't act like it's your wifely duty to pile on make-up for every trip to B&Q.

"My husband is, at best, bemused by my theory. The other night, as I was wiggling up and down the bedroom in a clingy cream frock and fretting over which heels to team it with before we headed out to a charity do together, he commented: 'Does it really matter? Who really cares, apart from me?'"

And you value men's opinions, not women's right?  So you listened to him.

"Ah, but at the function, when one of the male organisers told me I looked 'rather hot', he bristled and threw a proprietorial arm around my shoulder. Hurrah! Result!"

This is more important to you than the fact that, by your own admission, he loves you?  Maybe he just thought the guy was being creepy and was trying to help you shake him off.

"Working hard so other men notice you triggers a Neanderthal response in your man." 

Ah - science! Could you please refer me to the journal and article in which this research was published for peer review?

"It takes him back to those bygone days when males, high on pheromones, would prowl round for potential mates."

Are you talking about the 80s?

"Nothing is more guaranteed to drag him away from checking football scores at a party and place him firmly back by your side than the appreciative glance of a lusty competitor."

Sorry - I thought you wanted to stop him sleeping with other women? Now you want to stop him finding out the football scores?

"And the greater the status of the man who notices you, the greater the impact on your other half. It will reinforce his pride in the fact that you are his."

And remember the higher the status of the guy who fancies you - the more cows he's likely to offer as a dowry. Oooops - wrong century!

"It works the other way, too. Nothing reignites my interest in my husband more than the flutter of another woman’s eyelashes in his direction."

Very grown up - I don't want him unless somebody else does. Have you considered therapy?

"I buy him beautiful clothes for his birthday, even though they might court the sort of female attention that I know raises my hackles. It’s all part of keeping the spark alive."

Is there anything you and your partner like about each other that isn't physical? What a weird relationship. You dress him up, encourage other women to oogle him, then this angers you and you want him. Really? And if so could you just role play this at home?

"Does it get me into trouble? Occasionally, yes. There will always be men for whom a reasonably-presented woman will seem fair game."

So someone fancies you and you're not interested and this constitutes "getting into trouble?" or do they refuse to take no for an answer? In which case we're talking about "sexual assault" which is not your fault.

"This is why turning heads has to be done with a restrained hand. Men are simplistic about smoke signals."

Most men don't understand smoke signals at all. But they're not bad with English I've found. And how is looking "your very best" using a restrained hand? Surely you should go for "looking your second best".

"If you’re heavy handed with the hair-flicking, pouting and skirt-hitching they automatically assume this is semaphore for 'there’s a Travelodge around the corner'."

Most men also don't understand semaphore. Nor why you would want to use it to alert them about local landmarks. What is it with the smoke signals and the semaphore? Or maybe you mentioned somewhere else that your social circle is predominantly Native Americans and air traffic controllers.

"When I sense there is any danger of that, I can’t get back to my lovely man fast enough."

I thought you were only interested in him when other women were pawing at him?

"Ultimately, I still fancy my husband and want to do everything I can to ensure he still fancies me too."

So do that. But don't go telling the rest of us what to do like it's a "duty", and blaming us for infidelity and relationship breakdown. If we needed any evidence that dressing up fancy doesn't magically make your relationship last look at all the glamorous celebs getting divorced every year, while frumpy old Mr and Mrs Baggins on your road are probably celebrating their golden wedding anniversary. If there's one thing we know about great relationships it's this: they're not built on superficial attraction and petty jealousy.

"But even if he put a ring on my finger, it doesn’t hurt to keep him on his toes too."

Yes it does - deliberately making people insecure is a crappy way to behave. By all means dress up when you want to, flirt if you enjoy it, because you're a human being and you've every right to go out on the town and enjoy yourself.  But don't go pretending you're doing it for anyone's benefit but your own.

*That's "turn up to a party" (at someone's house, or a bar) "wearing my pyjamas". There is no party in my pyjamas. Sorry for the confusion.