A few morsels from the world….

// 16 June 2008

Sorry for the rather fragmentary nature of this entry but just wanted to highlight a few things before going back to being deeply immersed in work again…. Firstly Things to Make your blood boil include this piece on Wii Fit Women and the damage they cause. Now Shelia’s Wheels have been doing women related research since their foundation and, generally, whilst more market-research than social-research some of it’s been interesting (we covered another one on house viewings for example). But almost all of their research seems to be aimed at “aren’t women stupid” which, surely, isn’t the best way to flog us insurance. I made similar criticisms of the house viewings one. But this latest one is really rather worse, somehow, apparently women using Wii Fit is responsible for £20,100,000 of damage, yes that’s right £20.1 million. How, well because in a survey of 1,000 women, an undisclosed number said that they’d damaged a plant pot or knocked a piece of furniture with an average damage cost of £6.55. How do we get some £6.55 to £20.1 million? Will by timesing £6.55 by 3,068,702.29 apparently, but what does that 3 million + figure mean? One can only guess, numbers of Wii Fits sold maybe? Random integer Shelia’s Wheels came up with to make a substantial figure? I don’t know. But apparently:

Flower pots, television sets and even pets have been sent flying by the high kicks and hula hoop motions of increasingly vigorous home exercise routines, a study found. And with the credit crunch forcing households to rein in spending on luxuries such as expensive gym memberships, the toll of destruction on Britain’s living rooms is only expected to rise.

From The Telegraph

In more serious blood-boiling stuff, last week The Observer carried an interview with Katie Roiphe to advertise her new book on unconventional marriages. Rachel Cooke, the interviewer, seems to have uncritically decided Roiphe was right in her first book on how feminism makes women into victims. For example Cooke talks about that book (The Morning After) like this:

She suggested that it was, at best, muddle-headed and, at worst, hysterical for young women, especially clever young women on campuses, to call, as they were then wont to do, unpleasant or regrettable sexual encounters with their peers ‘date rape’.

From The Observer

I’m sorry “where then wont to do”? Were we/they? I’ve yet to see an accusation of rape which was just about the morning after regret and Roiphe provides little other than her own rather insulting involvement with a rally against rape as evidence. Roiphe goes on that feminists:

should kick back and have a giant Scotch as they survey the world and see that they have won. There is nothing better for the feminist movement than looking in the face of its own extinction

From The Observer

Well I’ll be sure to remember that as I get paid less than my male counterparts, get harassed on the street for daring to own breasts and worldwide account for more poverty and illiteracy than my male counterparts because surely they are signs of our absolute equality. (I’m using equality as the measure here as I suspect it’s the one Roiphe would feel more comfortable with). And further:

‘I was watching a Democrat debate with my child and I said, “Wouldn’t it be cool if there was a girl President? There’s never been one before.” She looked at me in disdain and said, “Yes there has.” I realised that for her it’s so natural that a woman would be President that it’s not a big deal. The revolution has succeeded.

From The Observer

Only, and I hate to let historical accuracy spoil such a rose-tinted view, there is the teeny-tiny issue that, well, the US has never had a female present and I’m not really convinced a young child is best placed to measure gender equality. I’d love to think this girl-child’s faith in the equality due to her will remain untainted as she grows up but entirely suspect, as she gets older, she will struggle to reconcile the view that she should achieve on a par with men, for the same work, and yet also has to that whilst wearing high-heels, being attractive (but not too attractive) and facing widespread discrimination. Mind Roiphe is a well-to-do white woman so maybe Roiphe junior will have that natural expectation of entitlement and maybe it’ll pan out. Meanwhile the rest of us will just have to accept that our claims to equality are simply less important or indeed wrong now Roiphe feels she has it all.

Meanwhile, far far away from Roiphe’s comfortable penthouse apartment, things aren’t going well for women in Afghanistan where there is increasingly worrying evidence about the rise of prostitution there.

Afghanistan is one of the world’s most conservative countries, yet its sex trade appears to be thriving. Sex is sold most obviously at brothels full of women from China who serve both Afghans and foreigners. Far more controversial are Afghan prostitutes, who stay underground in a society that pretends they don’t exist.

From Associated Press

Take this case study. A girl who was 11 when she was forcibly anally raped by a war veteran, then paid $5 for it and since became a “full-time” prostitute, but to maintain her “virginity” she only has anal sex.

The girl is now 13, and her features have just sharpened into striking beauty. She speaks four languages — the local languages of Pashtu and Dari, the Urdu she picked up as a refugee in Pakistan and the English she learned in a $2.40-a-month course she pays for herself in Kabul. She is the breadwinner in her family of 10.

She does not know what a condom is. She has not heard of AIDS.

From Associated Press

Afghanistan prostitution involves both Afghani and chinese prostitutes both of whom are at risk of trafficking within Afghanistan and across borders. And boys aren’t exempted either. The victim of the war veteran was trafficked by her rapist/pimp and then freed by Afghani Police, when she was freed, however, her family sent her 13 year old brother to the pimp instead because her prostitution was the family income.

On the flip side some interesting, positive other stuff. There are reports that hosiery sellers, Tightsplease, are running an appeal for old tights to help support/hold dressings post-pregnancy and for fistula suffers in Ethopia. It’s mentioned here and here although I can’t find it on their website.

There’s also a short history of vibrators in The Times.

Comments From You

sian // Posted 16 June 2008 at 12:49 pm

I read that interview with Katie Roiphe as well. It was spooky. But it reminded me (especially in the context of what you wrote about afghanistan) of the endless argument I have with my non feminist friends, if i’m ok, then what’s the problem. so many women

i know see themselves as (rightly or wrongly) being equal, that they refuse to recognise the worldwide, global problem of feminism, that there are countries in the world where women suffer horribly, and which is a definite reason for the continuing relevance of feminism. to ignore this is so stupid!

and Hilary didn’t win, did she? and she did have to put up with a helluva lot of crap. so to say that because a woman could be president (which seems to me what she was saying) fatuously ignores some of the reasons why there isn’t one.

plus her whole bunch of crap about rape is so angry making. again, it is that smug ignorance of “it doesn’t affect me so what do i care”. who gave her the right to define rape? it seems to me that a lot of journalists at the moment seem to be pandering to rather than challenging their interviewees, esp in the observer -just check out the OWMM!!

InnerBrat // Posted 16 June 2008 at 1:42 pm

Roiphe escapsulates the problem that so many women are seeing with White Middle Class feminism. She has it fine, and she’s a woman, so she thinks Feminism has won.

Well, no. SHE might have won, because she has a comfortable life on par with many of the men of her aquaintance, but if she can use that, and the presence of ONE serious presidential candidate as proof that she no longer needs to care about the rest of womankind, then she’s as bad as the misogynist women who write for the Daily Male.

Sarah // Posted 16 June 2008 at 1:52 pm

The story about Roiphe’s daughter was cute enough – my parents tell a similar one about me asking in amazement ‘you mean a *man* can be Prime Minister?!?’ Growing up in the 80s in the UK with a ruling Queen, Mrs Thatcher as prime minister and Betty Boothroyd as speaker in the House, I think I honestly believed the country was run by middle-aged women, and indeed it would seem odd to me to think of a man holding any of those roles. However I soon learned enough about the world to realise that this was far from true, and sadly I fear Ms Roiphe’s little girl will have a similar awakening before long.

Redheadinred // Posted 16 June 2008 at 2:34 pm

Why are they calling a 13 year-old girl a ‘prostitute?’ there is no such thing as a child prostitute, since they are not free to choose they are victims of sexual abuse. This is yet another way to deny responsibility of the patriarchy.

Alex T // Posted 16 June 2008 at 8:04 pm

There never has been and there will never be a “girl” president anyway. There may well be a female one, but she’ll be a grown woman.

That story about the Afghan girl will haunt me for a long time.

Lizzie // Posted 16 June 2008 at 8:33 pm

The belief that feminists ‘should kick back…and see that they have won’ infuriates me.

When it emerges that I am (shock horror) a feminist, people often appear confused because of the assumption that feminism isn’t relevant anymore.

That, or make misogynistic and stereotypical ‘jokes’ about what I supposedly stand for or even look like.

For example ‘You’re not going to kill me because I’m a man are you? *haw haw haw*…are you a lesbian then?’

No wonder there are so few feminists of my age (18). Education including the history and current development of feminism would help.

Seph // Posted 17 June 2008 at 1:44 am

The other stuff is disgusting (Roiphe) and horrific (Afganistan)

but the Wii Fit one is just funny, i’m guessing Sheila’s Wheels didn’t bother asking men about the stuff they broke playing it?

Everyone breaks stuff playing the Wii, I’ve watched my brother send the dog flying on more than one occasion, it’s why Nintendo have started plastering disclaimers over everything.

Rather than research proving women stupid, I think it’s a case of the Wii proving that there’s no gap of gender, race or age when it comes to being a prat.

eleanargh // Posted 17 June 2008 at 12:32 pm

Thanks for the tights recycling link – I’ve hated having to throw them away. The link on the Tightsplease website is here http://www.tightsplease.co.uk/index.php?page%5Bcat%5D%5B%5D=126.

Lindsey // Posted 18 June 2008 at 11:03 am

I guess Roiphe didn’t hear the men in the audience asking Hillary to iron their shirts then…

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