Thursday, 31 July 2008

Plastic perfection - why?

Great, at last a whole article arguing against cosmetic breast enlargement in particular, and considering the possible motives for it.

Why alter a perfectly functional body just to make it conform to some bizarre ideal? Because someone somewhere is making money out of it - plastic surgeons, journalists among others.

I know, I'm a bit of a killjoy/puritan/don't-mess-with-nature-unless-you-have-to freak.

Wednesday, 23 July 2008

Changes in Law on Murder

Under changes to the murder laws announced this week, the defences available to women on trial for murder who have killed a partner as a result of domestic violence are to be widened and clarified; whereas men who kill their wives claiming that they were provoked into it because of her "nagging" or alleged infidelity will find that they have far less sympathy from the courts.

Article by Julie Bindel in today's Guardian shows reasons why.

Friday, 18 July 2008

Politics and the City website

The site is looking quite interesting, once you enter the News and Informed Post sections - not many comments, yet, but I think it could build up. They have highlighted a few interesting stories.

Brain differences (continued)

The Independent has summarised the New Scientist article in detail and added some comments from well-known professionals etc. The guide below is the Independent's own summary of the differences.

A guide to the male and female control panels
Controlled by the frontal lobe, which is proportionally larger in women.
Controlled by the limbic cortex, which is also proportionally larger in women.
Controlled by the parietal cortex , which regulates how we move around. Proportionally larger in men.
Controlled by the amygdala, which is proportionally larger in men. When recalling an emotionally charged scene, men enlist its right side, women its left. Men remember the gist of the scene, and women the details.
Controlled by the periaqueductal grey, an area of grey matter in the mid-brain, known to have a role in the suppression of pain in men but perhaps not in women.

For some reason they have omitted this difference -
Controlled by the hippocampus, proportionally larger in WOMEN, 'perhaps surprisingly given women's reputation as bad map-readers.' from New Scientist article.

However, I don't understand how all this has been summarised by Politics and the City as

'Apparently, women concentrate on emotions, decision-making and spatial navigation.
Men, on the other hand, concentrate mainly on sex.
No surprises there then, apart from the spatial navigation thing. Who says women can’t read maps?'

and similarly in the Daily Mail article

The study found that women devote more brain inches to decision-making, emotions and, perhaps surprisingly given their poor reputation for map-reading, to spatial navigation.
The male brain, however, appears to conform to stereotype, with a bigger emphasis on sex.

The only reference to sex that I found in the original New Scientist article, was this:
In men, proportionally larger areas include...and the amygdala, which controls emotions and sexual behaviour. Not exactly the same? Do we see what we wish to see?

Thursday, 17 July 2008

Brain differences male/female

I am still digesting the article in The New Scientist this week and will summarise later. These myths were tacked on at the end. I've simply reprinted them.

Myths and misconceptions
Give a man a sheet of paper printed with tangled streets and he can tell you where you need to go. But don't be afraid to ask a woman for directions. Chances are she'll get you there, too, but using a different technique. Drawing on her hippocampus, she'll offer you physical cues like the bakery, the post office and the Chinese restaurant.

He might not remember the details of the big blow-up you had during your honeymoon, ladies, but just because you can it doesn't mean he's insensitive. Women are simply better at remembering the details surrounding emotional events, because their amygdala is tuned to capture them.

Modern folklore claims women speak nearly three times as many words as men. Don't believe the hype. Women and men both say 16,000 words a day, on average.

While it's true that males mainly secrete testosterone from the testes, oestrogen is important to male brain development in the womb. In the male brain, testosterone is converted into oestradiol, which acts on oestrogen receptors and sets the hypothalamus to "male".

Wednesday, 16 July 2008

Women and music

From an interview with kd lang by Emine Saner in today's Guardian, this quote stood out for me:

"I don't know, there's some sort of disregard for women's perspective after a while. Music and the business of music is so sexually driven ... It depends, I guess, on how you were perceived. When women make their image about youth and sexuality, and not about intellect, that's kind of a dead-end road. So I think it's a combination of self-entrapment and entrapment by society."

Tuesday, 15 July 2008

Women and Science

Article in NY Times today discussing reasons behind the gender imbalance in scientific careers. Is it because women are discriminated against or discouraged? Is it on the other hand, because hard science, such as physics and engineering don't interest women?

Monday, 14 July 2008

Pressure on Teenage Girls

Pressure to grow up too quickly, to own iPods and other items, and then exams. All examined in a Guardian article this morning.

Maternity Leave

Maternity leave damages careers. What should be done? Abolish it, or make it compulsory for men and women to share this?

There are some very interesting ideas in the Times online and I also heard the matter being discussed on Radio 2 today.

My solution? Let's give parental leave, to be shared between father and mother, and a recognition by those without children that their future health care and pensions may be in part guaranteed by those children, who are the responsibility and the future of all of us.

Wednesday, 9 July 2008

Politics and the City

I haven't looked at this very closely yet - but it may be interesting.
From the BBC website today:

TV presenter June Sarpong hopes her new website,, will be the cool place for all ambitious women to be.
The 31-year-old, best known to teenagers as the face of Channel 4's youth programme T4, reckons there is a gap in the market for fashionable young women who like celebrities and gossip - but also want to keep on top of current affairs.
The result is a slick looking site which covers, politics, news, fashion, beauty, gossip and music.

Come on, you under 40s, let me know what you think. My immediate reaction is, why do we have to sugar the pill? But hey, I'm just an old fuddy feminist.

How important is this teenager's FF bra cup?

The headline on the main UK news page reads -

Sleepy baby bat beds down in receptionist's FF bra cup

Above the story itself, we have Teenager finds bat asleep in bra. Why the titillating (geddit?) headline?
Yes, I know, it's a light-hearted little story to be sure - there must be a couple of cartoons in it somewhere.

Well, dang me, they've changed it, since I wrote in and commented.
It's now:
The woman who thought she was going batty when her bra vibrated.

How far have we come?

A woman's place

Ninety years after British women won the right to vote, the Guardian website Comment is free is running a week-long debate asking: how far have we come?

Monday, 7 July 2008

Some more links

Thanks to Guardian's Comment Is Free today - a few more feminist site links on the right hand side.

Male/female brain differences examined

In a series of articles in Slate magazine , Amanda Schaffer examines the quality of the science behind the highly publicised recent research into differences between male and female brains.

I'm flagging this up ( again) for summarising later.

Sunday, 6 July 2008

Sexism at Wimbledon?

Article in (where else?) the Independent on Sunday. Some of the comments left by readers rather prove the writers' point. I get a bit tired of the pantie shots from the 'crotch-cam' too. And the endless discussion about clothes. One commentator has already got Laura Robson lined up as the next fashion icon after Sharapova.

Tuesday, 1 July 2008

The Backlash

Thought-provoking article by Kira Cochrane in the Guardian about the Backlash against feminism.

From comment about bodies to high-profile employers like Alan kiss-my-arse Sugar. Another one to summarise late.