Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Read It and Weep

There are no words to describe how angry I am right now, having read this. However, it fits in beautifully with the book I started last night, Harmful to Minors: The Perils of Protecting Children from Sex. The problems with forcibly piercing your thirteen-year-old daughter to stop her having sex with your OWN THIRTY YEAR OLD BOYFRIEND? It's distressing enough, but jurors agreed this wasn't child abuse. Do you think these are the same jurors who would convict someone for forced FGM? How is this different? Oh, yes, those FGM folks are Muslim and brown. That must be the only difference, because it seems bloody similar to me.

Kitten war. I need kitten war.

Friday, October 26, 2007

All Growed Up

Wowser. It looks like, despite the loading of the advisory panel with anti-choicers, the British proposed reforms on abortions are, shockingly, smart. Protective of women's rights. Practical.

Living in a place where we have battened down the hatches, and are desperately clinging onto and fighting for everything we can, I obviously assumed that the inquiry would be about reducing our rights. And, instead, I get to be pleasantly surprised by the proposals, which include:
  • Eliminating the need for two doctors' signatures for a woman to have abortion, and reducing it to one - albeit only for under 13 weeks lmp.*
  • Allowing nurses to perform abortions up to twelve week, and allowing such abortions outside licensed clinics.
Also, they will probably recommend maintaining the 24 week limit, which had been threatened by various anti-choicers.

It's a nice start to the morning. Surprising. If only the debate were thus here.

* lmp is "last menstrual period," which is how they calculate pregnancy's process.

Thursday, October 25, 2007


I'm trying to rant less. I recently celebrated ten years of friendship with people from university, and one thing we all noted about ourselves: less tolerant, angrier, rantier. I'm sure I wasn't this angry when I was 18. Maybe I thought I could change the world, that there was no need to be angry because I could do something about it.

Things, clearly, have changed.

This thing from the Today Show* is a prime example of why I get angry. I shouldn't fall for the bait; maybe they're doing it just to piss off people like me. Or maybe they're just lazy, stupid, and really think this is worthwhile.**

Anyway, so, apparently I'm one of these new brand of women called "fembots." Further to my earlier post, women who take time to think about children - who to have them with, when, how they can provide best for them, should they be parents at all - are not just immoral (thanks Rowan) but selfish, cold, emotionless, unnatural women who are denying their evolutionary wiring, and "sad." Ye gods.

And I wonder why I get so angry.

Which is why I need this and this and this and this to keep me sane.

*For my UK peeps, the Today Show is kind of like Richard & Judy. But stupider.

** Couldn't say something like this in the UK, surely - look at this judgment from a case Sheffield Wednesday boss Dave Allen has brought against bloggers to GET THEIR IDENTITIES (to, presumably, sue them or ban them from Hillsborough) and tell me we do not need a better libel & slander law.

Sunday, October 21, 2007


UPDATE: Yet another reason why I adore Unsprung. A great piece about an absolute pillock who thought the Frosts were irresponsible for having children. So tying in nicely to my whole "you cannot do it right" pressures... which indicates yet more clearly why taking childrearing seriously is something that women who choose abortions do.

ORIGINAL POST: Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury (and so head of the Anglican Church) yesterday published an opinion piece decrying how lightly British women take abortion.

Originally, I was set to savage him, with some of the traditional pro-choice rhetoric: of course women don't take it lightly, it's a deeply difficult decision, they think long and hard about it.

Then, I realised, you know what, some do. Some don't. But before you try to get me sectioned, no I haven't lost hold of my senses. I realised that this is not the point. The point is that whether women take "abortion" doesn't matter, in many ways. Because what it indicates is that women do not take childbearing lightly. The most important issue at stake is not whether to have an abortion; it's whether to bring a child into the world. Po-tay-to, po-tah-to, you may say, but I actually do believe there's a significant difference. The idea that there is no moral debate, as Williams claims, is just not true. Regardless of the reasons why women don't want to have a child - potential genetic illness, poverty, youth of motherhood, lack of education, or we simply do not want to be inconvenienced - all of these things indicate that women take childbearing and, even more importantly, childrearing lightly.

Abortion is often held up as "the most difficult decision a woman can make" (see Whoopi slapping down Hasselbeck - always a joy). I actually think the decision to have and raise a child should NEVER be taken lightly. Think about the pressures parenthood just in relation to the "obesity crisis" in Britain: We have the government threatening to send parents letters if their children are obese, and are already regulating packed lunches and isolating kids, supervising their eating because parents are not considered to be doing a good enough job. Working mothers are also held responsible for obesity because they don't have enough time to cook fresh meals.

We are bombarded with media stories about the failures of parenting, and how it is dooming society. No wonder that people are frightened of being parents. So what is a young woman to do when she finds herself pregnant?

Women taking abortion lightly indicates to me that they are all too aware of the consequences, to them, to their families, and the child itself, of bringing a child into the world. That to me says that their morals are, in fact, entirely in the right place.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Fitter. Happier. More Productive. Undoubtedly.

Well, I was hoist by my own petard, I really was. After going on about how "interesting" the internet was, the internet then cut out for the remaining two hours of my class. I was then left to ruminate* on the use of internet while at school and just how much academic learning culture has, consequently, changed.
I was at dinner a few weeks ago with people of my age or older and, so, ones who had been out of education for a long time - maybe not that many years, but a different world, thanks to changes in technology. When I turned up at college, a decade ago, I'd never had an email address. I didn't get my own computer until my Masters, three years later; I had to borrow the other half's PC to complete my dissertation while working in my room, rather than the computer room. Only one person I knew had a laptop.

Oh how it has all changed. My beloved mac is my companion, constantly with me, and I really cannot imagine studying without it; I cannot quite remember what it was like to not use one for work. I claimed, at the aforementioned dinner, that I could concentrate and yet mess around on the internet. I realise that this was slightly overblown, indeed (fuelled by some very nice Pinot**), but in fact, I do manage, sort of, to concentrate well. I am not blowing my own trumpet; it's always been the case that I somehow manage to get work done and get other people in trouble by distracting them (my nickname in secondary school Spanish classes was "desgracia.") Nonetheless, last night I DID concentrate, much better than usual - and I took good notes. However, I've always managed to get by with merely adequate notes and a healthy dose of webserving. But last night was a stark reminder of our ADD Generation - people actually LEFT because they couldn't cope without the internet.

* A word which I slightly resent, as I had the letters for it for scrabble, but the only potential R available - which would have landed me a triple word score, too - ran afoul of another word coming down from there. BUGGER.
** They also do a lovely vin gris, a rosé)

Safe at Home?

UPDATE: Over half of all doctors don't support the UK's abortion laws. But that doesn't mean anything bad. In fact, what they oppose is the two doctor requirement - that is, most think that it should be enough for one doctor to approve an abortion. Sanity. In comparison to the below, anyway.

I've just been catching up on The F-Word - sorry, prof, but securities regulations is not THAT interesting and I have been paying attention for forty minutes or so without blogging - and I have just read this which is deeply depressing.

The abortion debate here is so impassioned, so polarised (despite repeat surveys showing that a majority of Americans support a woman's right to have an abortion) that home seems distantly quaint and safe. And yet, and yet, it's doing its best to undermine that right now with the people allowed to testify on an enquiry looking into the legal status of abortion (not to make it illegal, but they are looking into the 24 week limit and so forth):

The enquiry has solicited evidence from doctors and medical associations in the lead up to the enquiry, which is standard procedure. This morning, however, it emerged that the committee clerk has had to take the “unusual step” of writing to all individuals who have submitted evidence to the enquiry and asking them to disclose all of their affiliations. The reason this step has been taken is that it has emerged that at least eight of the private submissions have come from medical professionals who have not disclosed their affiliation with Christian groups opposed to abortion. Six of those are members or activists of Christian Medical Fellowship.

For reference, the CMF have made an organisational submission to the enquiry which suggests that:

  • the 24-week limit should be reviewed;
  • the limit for abortion for foetal abnormality should be no higher than the general limit;
  • “any change in the law which increases abortion totals should be resisted”;
  • the requirement for permission to abort from two doctors should remain; and
  • there is “overwhelming evidence that abortion causes significant rates of serious mental health problems”.

They further note that they regret that the committee will not consider ethical or moral issues associated with time limits and that they are “reluctantly restricting ourselves to the science in this submission”. So it’s pretty clear where their opinions lie. The CWF is an anti-abortion group.

Now we’re told that at least 6 of the (about 20) individual submissions are members of this group, and that a further two are members of groups likely to hold similar opinions.

Ugh, ye gods. Arseholes. ARSEHOLES - how can they think it's ok to have over a quarter of these "experts" to all be members of a publicly pronounced opposition group to abortion rights?

Forty years since it became legal, British people really do have to protect it and make sure that the UK is forging a path to be an example for the US. The F Word has ways you can help... including a special screening of Vera Drake. GO AND DO IT!

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Mamma Mia

Today is my mother's birthday. It's horrible being away from some of the most important people in your life at the best of times, but on days like today, it's really miserable, for all concerned. It doesn't help when the sun is shining; it jars, making me feel at odds with the world. The time difference is a huge problem; my day was just starting and my mother's was already in the afternoon, and is probably wondering why I've not phoned yet, when I'm going to. It's inevitable, even when you know rationally of the time difference and that it's impossible for them to call.

Still, my mother is hopefully rejoicing in the glow from TWO English victories yesterday (although how much glow you get from beating Estonia is up for debate) and the knowledge that it's also Cliff Richard's birthday today, too. So I decided to look up other important things, to prove it's an auspicious day:
  • Battle of Hastings - well, I knew that one. Still cool.
  • Battle of Byland - Robert the Bruce forcing England to accept Scotland's independence.
  • In 1582 this day did not exist in Italy, Portugal, Poland and Spain due to implementation of the Georgian calendar.
  • George Washington proclaims the first ever Thanksgiving in 1789.
  • Henry Blair is the first African American to receive a patent, in 1834
  • In 1963 it marks the first use of the term Beatlemania
  • MLK becomes the youngest person to win the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964
And awesome people sharing a birthday with my mum:
  • William Penn
  • Eamon de Valera
  • Hannah Arendt
  • Roger Moore
  • Ralph Lauren
  • Christopher Timothy
  • Steve Cram
  • Steve Coogan
  • and, my personal favourite, Usher
Happy Birthday Mum.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007


This morning was an interesting one. I walked back from an extraordinary meeting with the Chair of the Police Ombudsman for Northern Ireland - an amazing woman - only to be covered in smog and dirt from midtown. I loathe midtown. Times Square is disgusting anyway - they "cleaned it up," having got rid of the sex shops, but now it's a soulless horrible mess. I can't see how that's an improvement, really - sex is gross and dirty and must be expunged from the public view, but tasteless, commercial horribleness in the form of the Hershey's store et al. are somehow better.

Even worse, I saw the Mittmobile. I murmured obscenities under my breath as I walked past, obviously. Actually, all I'd have had to say to offend him would be words like "women are equal," "stemcell research saves people's lives and that's a good thing," "healthcare for all is a GOOD idea" and other horrible, dreadful things like that. I wish I'd thought of that at the time. Bugger.

Monday, October 08, 2007


Well, my brain is still fuzzy, but that's mostly due to margaritas, not LCD (although it really was HAWESOME).

There is often a discourse about abortion talking about the reasons why women do it, and dismissing them as "superficial" (thanks Elizabeth Hasselbeck, you really are a moron); using it as a form of "birth control" (see this excellent article up at feministe on that issue - if it's about controlling whether you give birth, then of course it's a form of "birth control"); dismissed for "social reasons" (as the FLS Republicans decried on the noticeboards around school last year).

I went to a very interesting talk recently about Jewish law and its tolerance (or not) of abortions which was illuminating, and the rabbi was wonderful, but again she repeated the rhetoric of not allowing abortions for "superficial" reasons, as "birth control." Which is shorthand for dismissing a woman's reasons for having an abortion because she is silly or frivolous and saying that women don't know what they want or what they're doing; all of which leads to the anti-choice conclusion that women should be punished for mistakes - in contraception, in choice of partner, in being not yet ready for motherhood but ready to have sex.

This is all depressing and familiar, but particularly interesting to juxtapose with last week's Human Rights Watch report Over Their Dead Bodies, reporting on the results of Nicaragua's recent blanket abortion ban. So far, there have been over eighty documented cases of women's deaths directly attributable to the ban. As the guardian reports today, that is probably just the tip of the iceberg. Utterly depressing, and what we may retreat back to in the US if the Supreme Court gets its way. Although rich women won't suffer. As always, the poor ones are suffering most in Nicaragua and that's what will happen here. UPDATE: Ye gods, I just read this post up at Trailer Park Feminist about some arsehole who says that HRW is making up these reports of dead women so that it can make money from abortions in Latin America. Fucktard.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Misplaced Priorities

There's so much going on right now that I should be processing, mentally, and then blogging on, such as: the House bill that would bring criminal liability to contractors in Iraq; the speech by Harold Koh at my school yesterday, which was exciting, inspiring, funny and wonderful, and has prompted me to restart writing my international law thesis (that nearly KILLED me last year - so all things in moderation); and the birth of a daughter to one of my very best friends, which is a watershed in my life, let alone hers.

Instead, however, I am getting increasingly (and quite embarrasingly) overexcited about the prospect of seeing LCD Soundsystem tomorrow. I can't quite believe it's nearly here. All other thoughts are therefore blown from my brain and I can't think straight. Tragic, but true.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Are We There Yet?

I don't really want to head into the world just yet. Early mornings, responsibility for decisions, all that. Yet I think I'm itching to do it, subconsciously. I'm not sure I'm enjoying being at school that much - I think it's time to move on.

However, one of the things I will miss, beyond measure, is the exposure to the wonderful, wonderful people at my school. There are so many incredible people here, but one of the best is Professor Jennifer Gordon. I am working with her at the moment, providing research for a project on transnational labor citizenship. She is an extraordinarily bright, hard-working, inspiring person who looks for solutions, pragmatically, in order to make lives better for workers and immigrants. Read about the project in the editorial from the NY Times last weekend...

Monday, October 01, 2007


Over the summer I really got into my political blogs, and that was echoed in my I read links on the right. However, things have changed. I am tired of being angry, ranting; I wanted to write about other things: more frivol & whimsy, less despair. So I really got into my friends' blogs again, fuming when they dared to have lives that meant no updates for a couple of days.

Generally, I read very few, now. I always read feministing; lawyers, guns & money (read today's post on CJ Rehnquist, the fascist, racist evil git, it's excellent); and Bitch, PhD (both her personal site and at suicide girls). However, the one that I really treasure right now is unsprung. I don't quite know why, but I think this post on the falling divorce rate exemplifies the thoughtful, intelligent and interesting writing. The post points out that feminism, rather than being to blame for the decline in marriages, is in fact responsible for marriages lasting longer and more often. It's an excellent post.

But my love for unsprung is based on more than just this post; it's the whole ethos behind the site. I love the idea of a pro-choice, pro-women, pro-family website - that is, the idea that these things actually follow on from each other, rather than allowing the right to co-opt the "family values" issue and dictate that progressive politics are automatically anti-family. It feels as if we've allowed Republicans and the Christian right to frame and define the debate and its terms for far too long. More sites as good as this would help.