Wednesday, January 31, 2007


Mind the Gap has a link to a petition protesting the possibility for religious organisations to be exempted from the new laws governing homophobic discrimination. Although it appears that the exemptions probably won't go through, it's best to be on the safe side and pledge your support for no-one being allowed to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation, no matter their religious or cultural beliefs. There's no excuse for homophobia.

You have to be a British citizen to sign the petition, and although it says that the cut-off date is 17th Jan, it's apparently been changed.

So go and sign it, and lodge your support for gay couples to be able to adopt children from any adoption agency, not just ones that 'let' them.

Shameless pimping for charity

Knit a Part of a Cancer Research Giant Scarf for a London Icon!

Knit for this lion!

Stitch and Bitch London (a friendly London knitting group who want save the world one knitter at a time) are attempting to knit a gigantic scarf or scarves for the rather chilly-looking Trafalgar Square lions. The scarves will be raffled off for Cancer Research after being presented to the lions mid-March, and the lucky winners will get a 43.5 foot scarf to wrap around their armchair/tree/house/partner (or we can turn the pieces into a blanket for them).


The scarves will be presented to the lion in March so you have plenty of time to knit your bit.


 Follow the Lion Scarf Story and put yourself on one of our maps on our website at


We would like as many people as possible to knit a piece. You can knit the smallest, teeny tiny part or a huge chunk, in whichever yarn you fancy using.


Knit in support of someone you know fighting cancer, in memory of someone, or just for the joy of knitting for a giant lion!


 If you wish to begin knitting your part of the giant scarf at home here are the dimensions:

The scarf will be an enormous: 10 inches (25.5cm) by 43.5 feet (13.25 metres)

Yarn:  Whatever you want to use.

Stitch: Any design you like. Go wild!


There are four lions in Trafalgar Square so don't be afraid to knit a big chunk. They can all have one if we get enough!  :)






 Any questions? Email us


Knit your bit! Those lions aren’t going to sit there waiting for their scarves for ever you know. Well, okay, maybe they are. But that isn't the point!



Sunday, January 28, 2007

Woman is a political animal, not just a desperate housewife

Last week, Harriet Harman visited the Welsh Labour Women's Forum. "What a tonic it was," she says, "to spend the day with them. They are the champions of women in Wales and have transformed the political agenda so that it looks to and understands the lives of women in Wales, as well as men." She goes on to list the accomplishments of the Welsh Assembly, saying that Labour women have pushed forward the agenda on pledging more nursery places, tackling the gender pay gap, and caring for the elderly. Don't get me wrong, I'm delighted that these things are being prioritised, and I'm proud that we've elected strong, competent women to see them through. But it isn't a woman's job to do it, it's a politician's, and the more that gender is brought into the equation, the easier it is for a male politician to pass the buck. Women don't benefit politics simply because they're women. There is no magical component to estrogen that makes us more susceptible to the plight of the underdog - our first female PM was Maggie Thatcher, for heaven's sake, and she wasn't exactly known for her cuddly, gentle side.

The language men use to talk about political women is telling, but more interesting is the language these women use about themselves. Nancy 'two heartbeats away from the Presidency' Pelosi, the first leader of the House of Representatives, recently spoke out about the political corruption in Washington and suggested that she was the right person for the job because "It takes a woman to clean house." Thatcher, who once so famously claimed that "I owe nothing to women's lib", frequently cast herself in the role of the housewife in charge of the pursestrings. Except she wasn't a housewife, she was the prima inter pares, 'the first among equals', the Prime bloody Minister of the United Kingdom. And no matter what I think of her premiership, I think it deserved more than shoddy gender stereotypes and playing down her considerable strengths. I'm not playing down the experiences of housewives - as anyone who saw my reluctance to scrub the kitchen floor today will tell you, it involves some serious hard graft. But Pelosi and Thatcher have some major political nous and when I see their achievements being put into traditionally female terms, it demeans everything they have achieved as politicians, not just as women. Anyway, his wife might have been the Britain's most famous housewife during the 80s, but I bet Denis Thatcher wielded a mean scrubbing brush in his time.

I'm not disputing the idea that women can bring a different political agenda to the table, I just don't believe that they automatically do. For every Harriet Harman, dedicated to making men and women as equal in the eyes of public policy as they are in reality, there's a Margaret Thatcher double-glazing over the hole she made in the glass ceiling. To assume that all women are going to protect the feminist agenda is not only narrow-minded and hopelessly optimistic, it gives men a carte blanche to ignore it. I want more women in the Houses of Parliament, in Congress, in the Senate, and in the White House. But I also want the men and women we vote for to shoulder their social responsibilities equally, because for the foreseeable future women will always have to operate within a political structure that benefits men most of all, and it can only be changed when everyone takes a stand and not just those who it adversely affects.

It's true - or at least I believe it to be true, and since this is my blog we shall assume that I am right - that many female politicans are more sensitive to issues that primarily affect women, and that their being in power means that women's issues can play a larger part in how our countries are run. That's one of the reasons we campaigned for the vote, it's one of the reasons I'm gunning for Harriet as Deputy PM and Hillary for POTUS. But that doesn't make abortion, unequal pay, nursery places, low rape convictions, and maternity/paternity leave issues that only women should deal with. These women have set a great example, it's time that men stepped up to the plate and supported them, whether as fellow party members, partners, brothers or sons.

Because it doesn't take a woman to clean house, and it sure as hell doesn't take a man to rule the country.

Friday, January 26, 2007

The Guardian's 'Comment is Free' section has an interesting op ed piece on forced marriages here.

A proper update will follow this weekend...

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Apparently equal rights ARE special rights.

Recently passed gay rights legislation in the UK is being threatened by Catholic adoption agencies' refusal to comply with the new laws. They claim that the legislation will 'force' their agencies to close, although the reality is slightly different. What they're actually saying is that if the law does not include a special loophole just for them, they will close their adoption agencies - who place around 3 or 4% of children a year, and say that they deal with some of the most hard-to-place children with no clear evidence to support this - rather than run the risk of placing a child with same-sex parents.

Today's Guardian says that "Mr Blair and Ms Kelly are trying to broker a deal that could include a transition period for Catholic agencies, or the merger of Catholic and non-Catholic agencies. The Department for Education and Skills believes it can fill the gap if the Catholic agencies disband." This would be the most positive outcome for me, and I've got my fingers crossed for it, but the lack of reaction to homophobic outcry demeans the much-needed legislation that the same PM has just passed. Some MPs have been more vocal, including gay Labour MP (and former Anglican vicar - godess, I love my party) Chris Bryant, who argues that the majority of Catholics wouldn't support the closing of adoption agencies due to rampant homophobia. This even seems to be borne out by that political litmus test, the BBC's Have Your Say website, a current affairs forum that generaly appears to be populated by conspiracy theorists and Daily Mail readers, and is thus the bane of my existence.

Personally, I don't want religious organisations involved in adoption any more than I want them involved in education, and I certainly don't want them involved in politics to the level they are now. And putting a child with gay parents isn't going to make them gay themselves - most if not all of the gay people I know were raised by straight couples (my mother's adolescent crush on her hockey teacher not withstanding). Linked to that is the tired old heteronormative assumption that the default setting for the human race is gay - by the law of averages, some of the children placed with gay couples will be gay and will benefit from such a positive and state-sanctioned environment, or some of their friends might be and will have positive queer role models in a functioning family relationship.

Families are important. I don't care how you define them, the important thing is that they form a solid basis of love and support for their child's life, and beyond that it doesn't matter what combination of sex or gender is involved. If that sounds like a cliche, it's because it is - we shouldn't even need to have this debate, and if one of the most important things that Blair will have done in his last few months in office is watered down by his insistence on bending to the will of the religious right, I am going to be seriously disgusted.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Early Money Is Like Yeast - it helps raise the dough!

In honour of Blogging For Choice Day, here is some more left-wing feminist propaganda dedicated to a truly pro-choice candidate for the Decmocratic nomination. Sign up to Hillary's website to join the HillRaisers and support Hillary in her bid to become the first female POTUS, or if you're in the UK, go and join The Fawcett Society or sign up to support Harriet Harman's campaign to become the first female Deputy Prime Minister.

Taken from Emily’s List.

EMILY is every woman who has ever sat at a business meeting while someone else took credit for her good work.
EMILY is every young professional who’s been told to wait her turn and every seasoned one who’s been told she still has to pay her dues.
EMILY is every working mom who’s managed to balance a checkbook, who’s managed a clean house, a corporate budget and a 12-year-old’s basketball tournament in one day.
EMILY is every stay-at-home mom who has ever been asked, “No, I mean, what do you do? What do you really do?”

She is every woman who’s ever had to defend her right to be pro-choice. She’s every woman who’s ever had to explain her choice not to have a child.

She’s every woman who has ever demanded a raise because she’s been doing the same work as the man in the next cubicle for the same number of years, and she’s still not getting the same pay. She’s every woman who has ever wondered why the company won’t cover her contraceptives, but will cover that same guy’s Viagra.
EMILY is every working mom who has ever fought for quality day care or family leave time. She is every woman who has given up a single day of vacation to care for a sick child or a sick parent.
EMILY is every girl in every classroom whose hand was still in the air after the boys got their questions answered.
She’s every athlete who’s ever been told, “She throws like a girl.” She’s every candidate who’s ever been asked how she can run for office and have a family at the same time. She is every African-American woman who has had to work three times as hard to be considered as good as her white male colleague. She is every Jewish woman who has ever been called a princess. She is every Hispanic woman who has been asked how long her family has been in this country.

She is every woman who has been called too soft or too strong or too aggressive or too nice or too ambitious to get the job done. She is every woman who has ever been measured against a glossy picture in a magazine.
EMILY is the seamstress who has sewn the graduation gowns for years but has never worn one. EMILY is every woman who helped set up this room today and who will clean up after we leave … and that same woman who only wants her daughters to dream big dreams, because EMILY knows that young girls cannot be what they cannot see.
She is you. She may be your next governor … she may be your next vice-president … she may be your next president. And EMILY doesn’t get mad — she gets elected!

Saturday, January 20, 2007

A woman's place is in the White House

So Hillary's putting together an exploratory committee about running for the Democratic nomination for POTUS in the 08 election. Well, that's a surprise. In the happy fantasy world in my head, we'll have a female president in the White House, with a black VP (come on, a Clinton/Obama ticket doesn't make anyone else drool?) a female French president (Royale, baby!), and Harriet Harman will be Brown's Deputy PM. Harman's probably the most visible female MP we have, probably one of the most visible Labour politicians full stop, and her feminist credentials are pretty damn great.

In 2007, my resolution is to post here more often....

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