Saturday, March 26, 2011


Wish i could be protesting in London today. There are so very many things to be protesting against right now.

I hope it goes well and makes a difference.
Published with Blogger-droid v1.6.8

(Edited to add, that was mainly a test of posting through my phone. It worked!)

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

How will today's budget affect disabled people?

I didn't watch the Budget live this afternoon, and when I was back online I was expecting a flurry of tweets about how it would affect disabled people. There was nothing. The BBC summary of Key Points, and the Independent's summary do not mention disabled people at all, and the BBC Budget Calculator, to work out how much better or worse off will you be in the coming year following the Budget is only for people in paid employment, with no mention of benefits as income other than non-state pensions.

The one piece of possibly good news is that the government are going to 'revisit the issue' of whether the Mobility Component of DLA should be removed for those in residential care.

In the Guardian Columnists' Verdict of the budget. Jackie Ashley says,
I was reminded of that speech Neil Kinnock made back in 1983, warning of the dangers of a Tory government: "I warn you not to be ordinary," he said, "I warn you not to fall ill, I warn you not to get old."

His warnings seem appropriate today: this budget was all about help for business, but with little regard for those not lucky enough to be able to fund a start-up. What about the old? What about the disabled?
and she summarises that, "There was no mitigation of the £18bn cuts in welfare announced in the spending review last autumn".

And for those of you with private jets, I'm afraid you will be paying a little more, but don't worry, the reduction in corporation tax may help to ease the blow.

It is hard to understand why corporations will be paying less, and disabled people barely merit a mention. If the mobility component of DLA for people in residential care is kept, that is a good thing, but all the rest of the disability benefit cuts look like they are still going ahead.

Like I said, I did not watch the Budget myself, and am relying on others' reports about it, but from what I can see, we are again invisible.

[Edited to add: We have had confirmation from Anne Begg MP about what is happening with the Mobility Component of DLA for people in residential care. She says, "They have just delayed it by 2 years. Savings shown in Red Book from 2013 instead of 2011 which was original plan".]

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

“Rape is the only crime in which the victim becomes the accused.” - Freda Adler

If I was a journalist, and I was reporting on the alleged gang rape of an 11 year old girl, I imagine I would discuss the horror of the situation. I would talk to experts on child rape, and perhaps provide sources of support and information. I would write about the long-term effects that such an assault can have on a girl, and I would perhaps discuss what may be involved in the legal process ahead for this child and the accused men and boys.

However, in researching the story, I found this,
But this is a case that has divided this Liberty County town.

Some sympathize with the suspects, saying the alleged victim was a willing participant, even though she is too young to give legal consent
as reported in My Fox Houston and elsewhere.

That information would change my approach altogether. Her local community and fellow students coming out with statements like,
""To be honest, she looks older than she really is," says Brandi Foster",


"“Where was her mother? What was her mother thinking?” said Ms. Harrison, one of a handful of neighbors who would speak on the record"

This girl was allegedly raped by as many as 20 men and boys. She was 11 years old.

Not only are the child, and her mother, being blamed for her assault, an awful lot of concern is expressed for the defendants.
“It’s just destroyed our community,” said Sheila Harrison, 48, a hospital worker who says she knows several of the defendants. “These boys have to live with this the rest of their lives.”


“It’s devastating, and it’s really tearing our community apart,” she said. “I really wish that this could end in a better light.” (from NY Times)


Sherry Fletcher, whose 20-year-old son Devo Shaun Green is among those charged, spoke to the network about her son's arrest. She said: 'It just seems like a dream. 'I just hope everything comes out well, because some of these kids are innocent.' (from Daily Mail, safe link).

Why is nobody asking what happened in one community to potentially create 20 rapists? Why is nobody expressing concern for the child at all? Why is it that the concern about the legal action is focused on the effect on the accused men, not the effect on the girl?

And if I was a journalist reporting this story, I would never, ever do what the New York Times in particular did, and report uncritically on a community's victim-blaming of an 11 year old girl who has had video of her alleged gang rape passed around her school, and which is now being investigated by the police.

James McKinley, the journalist, considers it newsworthy that
Residents in the neighborhood where the abandoned trailer stands — known as the Quarters — said the victim had been visiting various friends there for months. They said she dressed older than her age, wearing makeup and fashions more appropriate to a woman in her 20s. She would hang out with teenage boys at a playground, some said.

He does not report that it does not matter what a woman or girl is wearing. It does not matter if she 'dresses her age' or not. It does not matter if she wears make-up. He does not even question these statements, he just quotes them as they stand. He does not even mention that an 11 year old child is considered to be always incapable of consent in the law.

People should know better. The New York Times in particular should.

Other online reports of this story have comments like,
It doesn't make it right but when all the truth comes out I won't be surprised if it turns out that she was telling everyone she was 17 yrs old and that she probably orchestrated the whole thing. A lot of young people's lives will be ruined by this young, promiscuous girl. Something this big had to have been planned. Put them all in jail including the young girl.

This misogyny has to end! It does not even matter if she had told anyone she was 17. Or 27. Or 87. Women and girls get raped through no fault of their own. How many times do we need to report this until it is understood?

Thank you to Women's eNews for the photo, and to Liz Henry for the heads-up to the story.

(cross-posted at The F Word blog).

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

What a difference 10 months make...

Sheffield City Hall. In preparation for the Liberal Democrat conference this weekend, fences have been erected, roads will be closed, buses changing routes, shops closed, for fear of the Rage against the Lib Dems and other inevitable protests.

The Sheffield Star says,
In a bid to keep party delegates safe at the three-day spring summit, mobile fencing has been erected around the venue in Barker’s Pool to keep protesters out.

It is thought thousands of demonstrators could come to Sheffield to protest at Liberal Democrat policies and coalition with the Conservatives.

Compare and contrast with this image. That is a group of people at the same place - Sheffield City Hall. The banners are being aimed at - the Liberal Democrats.

Right to Work criticise the cost of the police operation, saying
“The police operation is costing at least £2 million and the people of South Yorkshire will have to pay to protect the very people making the cuts and destroying their lives.”

Details of Saturday's protest are available here. There are so many issues to protest about. Just take your pick.

(Hat-tip to Sheffield Green Party for the image and the comparison image link).

Monday, March 07, 2011

7 Years Old

This blog is 7 years old today.

Wolfram Alpha tells me that 7 years is equal to 84 months, 365 weeks, 2555 days, 61320 hours, 6.995025 anomalistic years, or 6.99508694957 sidereal years.

In other '7 year' news, The Eiffel Tower is painted approximately once every 7 years and requires nearly 50 tons of paint each time according to this site. And it appears to be a myth that in the length of time this blog has existed, I have replaced every cell in my body.

Happy birthday, hippie blog!

Endometriosis Awareness Week 2011

This week is Endometriosis Awareness Week, and as someone who has the disease I wanted to raise a bit of awareness of it here.

Endometriosis is surprisingly common, and can vary in severity and symptoms from woman to woman. In my case I get extreme pain with my period, and very heavy and prolonged bleeding. I have not tried to get pregnant, so do not know for sure if it has affected my fertility, but I have been told that it probably has seriously reduced my chances of a successful pregnancy. But as a happily child-free person, that is not a personal concern.

So for me, it's the pain. And when I say that I get pain with my period, you may feel you have an idea what that would mean, because many women get pain with their periods. When my periods first started as a teenager, I got period pain. It hurt, and I'd take two paracetamol and it would calm down. I had no idea what was to come for me! After 12 months of relatively normal periods I was on a family holiday in France when my period started. I had never experienced pain like it. It felt like someone was twisting a knife around in my lower back, and simultaneously punching me in the stomach, while tearing the muscles open in my right thigh. I couldn't sit up straight, I could only curl into a foetal position and pray it would stop. On the fourth day I could finally stand up straight.

And so it remains to this day. The first four days of my period I generally cannot stand up or walk. I have to be curled up in an almost self-protective position, take codeine that makes no difference at all, and blank my mind so that I don't add to the agonies with 'why me?' and 'this is awful', neither of which help.

I try to plan so that I don't have anything to do on the first four or five days of my cycle, but it's very irregular, and never works out as I intend it to.

The video above explains the medical side of things, but the personal cost to women is what concerns me particularly. I had surgery to diagnose the endo, but the treatment side of that did not make much difference to my symptoms. Hormone treatments lowered my mood dramatically, and I can't take the pill. I was offered a hysterectomy, but at age 21, as I was, I felt it was too radical a decision to make at that stage.

It took me 7 years from first going to my GP about this excessive pain, to getting a diagnosis of endometriosis. At the time, this was the average length of time for all women. There are numerous reasons for this, but they mainly centre around women and girls not being taken seriously when they complain of period-related pain. As mine started as a teenager, I was told I would grow out of it. I was told it would be fine once I'd had a baby. I was told that *everyone* gets period pain. My friends who had seen how ill I got knew that there was something different about my period pain compared to theirs, but I was unable to convey to the doctors that it was not normal.

For me, it took dragging myself to my GP on the first day of my period. She saw me, unable to straighten up, barely able to stand, and she picked up her pen and paper and referred me instantly to a gynaecologist. He did a laparoscopy, and sure enough, found endo, as well as some other problems too.

If you have any of the symptoms - extreme pain before, during or after your period, pain during sex, excessive bleeding, difficulty conceiving, ovulation pain, bowel or bladder problems, loss of large clots of blood, and other things which you know are not right in your body - go back to the GP and do your best to insist on a referral to a gynaecologist. I wish I could tell you that from there, all would be well, but 12 years on I am still in the same situation as when i was first diagnosed. However, some women do have success with treatments, so they are always worth a try. I get on ok, as long as nobody tries to make me move, or threatens to take my wheat pad away!

This week, be aware of your body. You know what is normal for you.

For further information, see Endometriosis UK, or the Endometriosis She Trust UK.

(Cross-posted at The F Word blog).

Sunday, March 06, 2011

Finding RSS Feed Links in New Twitter.

I've been trying to add some twitter things to my google reader today, and finding the RSS feeds for things is suddenly a lot harder, with new twitter.

So, for anyone else wondering, here's what I've got.

If you want to get the RSS feed for twitter search results, so you want the feed to register each new mention of a search term, you use this URL, but replace 'feminism' at the end with whatever search you want. Add that URL to your RSS reader, google reader, or whatever you use, and it should work.

The other thing I wanted was the RSS feed URLs for certain twitter accounts. These used to appear below the list of people the account was following, but not any more. Until you log out. So you have to log out, go to that person's account page, and the RSS feed link will be below the images of the people the account follows, in the right sidebar. Then, log back in and do whatever you were doing, but you have the feed URL now.

Hope that helps someone out! It's been frustrating.