As anyone who's ever been through an unwanted pregnancy will tell you, the idea that it's 'too easy' to get a termination is a bit of a joke. The truth is it's never an easy situation to endure, and once you've made such a decision, ANY barriers that are put in your way only add to the anguish you're already experiencing -- and let's see -- morning sickness, hormonal chaos, major inconvenience and most probably a degree of guilt are not anyone's idea of fun, particularly when they're happening all at the same time.
This is one of many reasons why it concerns me that voting on tightening abortion laws are taking place in Parliament much earlier than expected and with very little notice -- amid a lot of press hysteria about the ease of 'abortion on demand'; a term I personally find very confusing because what other sort could we possibly want?
The shortlist of candidates for London's Mayoral election was announced today, giving voters the chance to make a final decision on who they want running their city for the next five years.
Let's hope it isn't BNP candidate Richard Barnbrook, whose partner in crime Nick Eriksen was revealed to be behind a blog that regularly advocates hatred and abuse against women. In the "Sir John Bull" blog, Mr Eriksen wrote: "I've never understood why so many men have allowed themselves to be brainwashed by the feminazi myth machine into believing that rape is such a serious crime...Rape is simply sex. Women enjoy sex, so rape cannot be such a terrible physical ordeal."
As an extra special treat for Cate in her absence, I've decided to write about something that'll make her really happy: vaginas! And to give my personal slant on the age old question of what to call them. Because despite years of debate on the matter, the answer remains elusive, for the younger members of society at least.
When I was growing up, my parents could not have been more liberal. I was taught where babies came from at four (having just produced one, my parents felt it only polite to tell me) and was under no illusions about the anatomy of either sex. But I still to this day don't recall being taught a word for my 'little girl parts'. Sure, I knew the word 'vagina' from the sex ed books aimed at children I'd read; a vagina was something a Mummy had, and had to do with having babies. But it certainly didn't apply to me!
Like most people in the known universe, I've had 'flu this week. Actually, make that this month. After days of shivering in bed, I had the aches, the pains, the snottiness and finally the moodiness, which turned me into a bitch from hell to anyone who dared cross me. Imagine the worst hangover you've ever had combined with PMT: that's about the level we're talking.
Throughout this time, I've been laughing darkly to myself about the idiocy and latent sexism of the phrase 'man 'flu'. Now as we all know, man 'flu is just the same as normal 'flu, except that us girls are not expected to go on about it. Because - of course - while we feel just as crap as men do when we're ill, we're used to putting up with crap, so we keep our pretty little mouths shut and suffer in silence. Some women mistake this for strength - thinking themselves superior for 'not making a fuss'. But I see it for what it is: a throwback to the time when we did all the 'looking after' and put ourselves second. And I'm not having any of it!
Women and graphic novels don't usually mix (that is, unless the 'woman' in question is a supernatural being with a heaving bosom and big, swishy tail) but in Persepolis, Marjane Satrapi has not only managed to give the genre a fresh female touch, she also tackles the history of the Middle East, the oppression of women and all manner of subjects that many heavyweight novelists won't go near.
Religious extremism, fear, torture and war are tackled alongside sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll, without the slightest friction. In many ways it's a wonder she gets away with it, and that's just one of the reasons to love her two-part autobiography, which has just been turned into a film.
With John Bird (founder of the Big Issue) for a father, Diana Bird has had a lot to live up to when it came to building a career with a conscience.
But this is exactly what she's done, time and again, tirelessly finding new business opportunities that help the environment and the world at large, with an impressive success rate. Preferring cookery to academic work, Bird left school to set up the Big Issue in the USA, already showing strong entrepreneurial skills. Soon afterwards, she set up a catering company; Lady Bird's Kitchen. She wrapped up the business to have a child, but it would not be long before Bird was back in business.
So, MTV bosses made a big mistake choosing to open the channel's prestigious Music Video Awards last night with a performance from a decidedly weary and out-of-practice Britney Spears. If you've seen the video like I have, you won't rush to defend that decision in a hurry. But is attacking Britney an appropriate response to this embarrassing faux-pas? I think not.
Britney appears onstage looking nervous, distracted and about as out of shape as you'd expect a woman who's just been through two pregnancies, at least one of which was unplanned, a nervous breakdown, a divorce and a stint in rehab. Her dancing ain't what it used to be, and yes, she's put on a few pounds. But nobody's choosing to think about any of that when it's so much more fun to laugh at her flabby belly, her lazy performance and point out that, at twenty-five years of age, she is 'too old' for this sort of thing.
Wonder Woman was one of the very first super heroines featured in comic books. Created back in 1941, she was meant to portray what a strong woman could accomplish. In the 1980s, when her comic book was rebooted, she was recreated as a feminist character. In any incarnation, she has been an inspiration to comic book reading little girls. And the television show, staring Linda Carter, reached an even wider audience. So it shouldn't be a surprise that a super-powered knitter has her own take on the well-known costume. After 14 months of knitting, knit blogger Practical Polly (whose blog is also well worth a read) has a jumper of which she can be proud. Now if only it really did allow her to fly! [Via Crafty Crafty]
Seasoned Fashion Editor Tamsin Blanchard's new book, Green is the New Black hits our bookshop shelves today, and with a foreword by model Lily Cole, it promises to show us style will save us all. Now, I'm the sort of person who usually runs a mile when the term 'celebrity endorsed' is used to sell a product, and anything that smacks remotely of 'chick lit' is enough to have me spitting blood. So having seen its very pretty cover, I suspected I was not an ideal candidate...
However, the book is very much a reflection of what Blanchard does best, and has secured her reputation as a Green Goddess. Her talent is bringing eco-living to the masses, by reminding us all that it is possible to be both glamorous and green. What I like best about Blanchard's approach to environmentalism is here realistic attitude: she recognises that the majority of women will have some interest in their appearance, and that tapping into this seemingly innate need, a few simple principles can help us make greener decisions in our clothing and shopping habits.
Growing up in the '80s, it was fairly unusual being a girl gamer. I got my beloved Amstrad CPC at Christmas 1985 and instantly fell 'head over heals' in love with gaming...but there was one thing that bugged me for years; the lack of female games characters.