Yogi Bear, Leonardo DiCaprio and Great Whites: Pointing out the Obvious

Another surfer in Australia is currently undergoing surgery having been bitten by what appears to have been a great white. This is only a few weeks after the media deluged us with footage of surfer Mick Fanning being pulled off his board by a great white. The media, showing a total disregard to little issues like personal space and trauma, had cameras jammed in Fanning’s face even before he’d made it to shore. Because shark attacks are super-cool for a 24 hour faux-media saturated culture. They are far more interesting than reporting on actual globally important news like war, genocide, male violence, and human rights abuses. Images of great whites breaching in South Africa are way more entertaining that a report on Nestle capitalising on a drought in California:



Sea World ought to capitalise on The Great White Entertainment Industry by replacing their Orcas with them. That way no will ask pesky questions about that little film Black Fish. No one will care about great whites trapped in cages. Just means less of them eating surfers.

Here’s my question though: if we’re spending obscene amounts of money tagging sharks and flying drones to spot them so that people can surf wherever they want, whenever they want, why are we also dangling food off boats so dopey people can hang about in cages getting up, close and personal with a great white? Seriously, where is the sense in this? In one hand, we’re spending a fortune and trashing the environment so tourists can swim without being eaten but we’re also spending a fortune and trashing the environment so tourists can swim with the same animal they don’t want to eat them?

I’m not an animal behaviourist and the only animal I anthropomorphise is my cat, so I have no idea if sharks actually confuse surfers with seals or, as this interesting article on the 3 surfers killed by sharks off the coast of Reunion suggests, some sharks are learning to see humans as an easy source of food, particularly for well-loved or injured members of the pack (which sounds rather sweet. And anthropomorphising). I just don’t see how dangling food off the side of boats so humans can swim in cages next to great whites does anything but teach them boat = food. Even without the anthropomorphising, sharks aren’t stupid. They follow the food and currently we’re tossing it off the side of the boats so this can happen:




Although, it’s possible the second image isn’t actually meant to happen, but I have it on great authority that it also happened to Leonardo DiCaprio. And, if a shark can have a go at the bun-wearing, never-going-to-win-an-Oscar, and only-dates Victoria’s-Secret-models former star of Growing Pains, what chance do the rest of the nincompoops hanging about in cages have?

Having googled, Great Whites targeting boats isn’t exactly an unusual circumstance but what do we expect? Has no one seen an episode of Yogi Bear? There are reasons you don’t feed dogs from the table. Surely the same rule should apply to sharks? Don’t feed wild animals is a rule that doesn’t seem to apply to sharks, who, if you believe the media, are the only animal that actually eat people – though I suspect cougars starving in the mountains of North America might have a query or two about this particular theory.

Like with the bucketheads who yank the tails of nurse sharks napping in the sand off the coast of Florida and then who express surprise at being bitten (seriously, I’d bite someone if they insisted on waking me from a nap by trying to yank my finger from it’s socket), I have to wonder about the shark-viewing population.

Granted sitting on a boat in the freezing cold for 8 hours on the off chance you see an orca isn’t exactly exhilarating, but surely it’s better than enticing large mammal-eating creatures to hang out when we’re also mammals. I’ve yet to see evidence of sea lions deliberately swimming with great whites for funsies. And, humans should, at least, be slightly more intelligent than sea lions.


*Okay, the authority is the Mirror. But, they don’t totally exaggerate stories to sell papers.**

** It’s possible I need a nap.


16 books Mark Zuckerberg NEEDS to read to stop perpetuating VAWG

Mark Zuckerberg has given a list of 14  books he thinks everyone should read this year. Since he’s so concerned about the general knowledge of random people on the internet, I thought I’d give Zuckerberg a list of books that he needs to read so he can stop putting survivors of domestic and sexual violence and abuse at risk with the deeply stupid ‘real names’ policy on Facebook.

1. Lundy Bancroft, Why Does he do that? Insides the Minds of Angry and Controlling Men, (Berkly Publishing, 2003)

2. Aisha Gill, ‘Honour’ Killing and Violence: Theory, Policy and Practice, (London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2014)

3. Dee L.R. Graham, Loving to Survive: Sexual Terror, Men’s Violence and Women’s Lives, (New York University Press, 1994) – a full PDF of this text is available here.

4. Lynne Harne, Violent Fathering and the Risks to Children: The Need for Change, (Policy Press, 2011)

5. Michael P. Johnson, A Typology of Domestic Violence: Intimate Terrorism, Violent Resistance and Situational Couple Violence, (Northeastern University Press, 2008)

6. Lorraine Radford & Marianne Hester, Mothering through Domestic Violence, (Jessica Kingsley Publishers, 2006)

7. Evan Stark’s Coercive Control: How Men Entrap Women in Personal Life (Oxford University Press, 2007)

8. Liz Kelly, Surviving Sexual Violence, (Polity Press, 1988)

9. Nancy Berns, Framing the Victim, Domestic Violence Media & Social Problems (Transaction pub. 2008)

10. Nina Burrowes, The Courage to be Me, (2014)

11. Gavin De Becker, The Gift of Fear, (Bloomsbury Pub, 2000)

12. Marianne Hester, Who does what to whom? Gender and domestic violence perpetrators. (Bristol University, 2009)

13. Kimmel, “Gender Symmetry” in Domestic Violence: A Substantive and Methodological Research ReviewViolence Against Women, vol. 8 No.11

14. Rachel Pain Everyday Terrorism: How Fear Works in Domestic Abuse, (University of Durham & Scottish Women’s Aid)

15. Jennifer Perry, Digital Stalking: A guide to technology risks for victims, (Pub, by Network for Surviving Stalking & Women’s Aid)

16. Women’s Aid, Virtual world, real fear: Women’s Aid report into online abuse, harassment and stalking.

Granted my list  has slightly more than 14 books, but I figure if Zuckerberg has taken the time out from running a multi-national corporation to give the general public a reading list, he has the time to make sure his corporation isn’t perpetuating violence against women and girls.

I really hope this is meant to be a joke:

because this has to be one of the stupidest things I have ever read:

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The province of Ontario needs to do some serious work on their social studies curriculum if this what their graduates come out with.

#DickheadDetox Donald Trump for being a White Supremacist


Donald Trump’s recent public statements on migrant workers don’t need to be deconstructed: they are racist and xenophobic.

But, he isn’t an anomaly. Trump represents the core of the Republican Party. Dismissing Trump as a joke or ‘mad’ is to fundamentally misunderstand American politics. It ignores the entirety of American history starting at colonization and continues through US foreign policy and domestic policies on housing, welfare and healthcare.

After all, there’s already a giant wall between Texas and Mexico. Trump wanting to expand it doesn’t make him more racist than the men who built it in the first place.

Rihanna should have known better because she’s a victim of domestic violence

I’ve seen this statement repeated on numerous blogs and media articles on Rihanna’s latest video and it seriously pisses me off. Holding a victim of domestic violence to a higher standard than other women isn’t a feminist position. I don’t like Rihanna’s new video, but this idea that she has transcended all of the societal norms of the capitalist patriarchy by being a victim of male violence is inherently anti-feminist. This is victim blaming language and feminists shouldn’t be shaming a woman.

Critical engagement with the video is essential, but critical engagement doesn’t involve victim blaming language or woman-shaming. Feminists should know better.


8 Celebrities Who Look Like A Quality Street

This is actually an article in the Huffington Post. I’m not going to link to it since they don’t need the advertising clicks, but this is the world we live in: not only are women body-shamed for having bodies, our clothing is policed for looking like “chocolate wrappers”.

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Celebrity women get trashed in the media for going out in jeans or trackie bottoms, but also shamed for dressing up in designer clothes for events they are required to wear. As women, we need to stop consuming media that shames women for their bodies. We may not be able to stop it but we can certainly cause financial harm to such online media by refusing to click.

Why Doesn’t Patriarchy Die

Rahila Gupta and Beatrix Campbell are crowd funding a research project entitled Why Doesn’t Patriarchy Die examining the ways in which feminism flourishes globally:

No matter where in the world we go, we find that men and women are not equal. Everywhere in the world, violence and sexual crime is on the horizon. We want to know what makes patriarchy so resilient and how it fits with diverse political systems – capitalism, socialism, theocracy.

How is it that the 21st century continues to be defined by unequal sexual divisions of labour, and throws up new platforms for sexism? We want to find the fissures and contradictions and the ways in which the rise of feminist resistance is unsettling the new order. This book will investigate where and why patriarchy flourishes and where and why feminism thrives?

This is an ambitious project – we will visit Egypt and speak to the women activists of the ‘Arab spring’ to understand why they were failed by it; we will visit the autonomous Kurdish areas to report on a transformative experiment in gender quality and radical democracy; we will go to India to question whether the law can protect women from sexual violence and what civil society levers can be used to improve implementation of the law; we will go to Saudi Arabia to explore the tensions in the patriarchal trade-off between restricted freedoms for local women in the public sphere against freedoms from domestic chores carried out by imported women ‘slaves’; we will talk to Femen and Pussy Riot to assess how feminist spaces are squeezed when religion gets into bed with dictatorship and why they are expanded in secular dicatorships like Saddam Hussein’s. This is not an exhaustive list.

We also want to look at the culture wars where feminists attempt to wrest popular music from its sexist roots and how the internet has become a magnified version of society, the new stalking ground for policing women’s behaviour; the radical potential of eco-feminism which lies in its direct challenge to one of the fundamental planks of capitalism – chasing growth in GDP; we want to re-examine the category of ‘woman’ as a social and biological construct in the face of the gauntlet thrown down by transgender communities and ideologies.

A thoroughgoing analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of one of the most challenging political and social movements of our age is long overdue. It cannot be carried out without your support.

You can donate here.

Male Violence at Glastonbury

I’m well behind on my reading this summer what with the whole no wifi and numerous small children standing at my shoulder checking out what I’m doing on the computer, -plus, the daily battles over who gets to mine craft that day, so I’ve only just seen Laura Bate’s article in the Guardian about a man at Glastonbury who unveiled a flag with a still from the “sex-tape” involving Kim Kardashian.

I absolutely loathe the term “sex-tape” as it makes the release of the intimate videos of celebrity women sound consensual. Kardashian, like Paris Hilton and Pamela Anderson, did not consent to an intimate video being shared. We need a new term to make it clear that these videos are sexual violence.

I would also go further than Bates when she said this about the flag:

This wasn’t “banter”. This wasn’t a hilarious stunt. This was the very public shaming of a pregnant woman in front of her husband and a crowd of strangers. And if that sounds positively medieval, then it should tell you something about our “modern” attitudes towards women.

I would class this as sexual violence. It was the deliberate use of images of a woman shared without consent.

Bates’ article is excellent and I highly recommend it. And, I wish we lived in a society where the man who brought this flag to Glastonbury could be criminalized.

Kim Kardashian is a better choice than Caitlyn Jenner for the BBC Women’s Hour

This is the response the from BBC to my complaint about the inclusion of transwoman Caitlyn Jenner on the Women’s Hour Power List:

We note you were unhappy that Caitlyn Jenner featured on the Woman’s Hour Power List 2015.

This list featured women involved in a wide range of areas, from politics and fashion to journalism and entertainment. As stated on the Woman’s Hour website, “The aim of this year’s list was to identify a range of women who have an exceptionally large impact on our lives, not just because of their job title but because of their personal ability to influence others.”


The list was decided upon by a panel of judges, headed up by journalist and broadcaster Emma Barnett and including human rights lawyer Helena Kennedy QC and Radio 1 DJ Gemma Cairney. They looked at well-known women’s personal ability to influence others. You can read more about the judges here:


As the following BBC News article on Caitlyn Jenner’s inclusion notes:

“Speaking about Jenner’s inclusion in this year’s top 10, Daily Mail columnist and judge Sarah Vine acknowledged it was controversial, for several reasons.

“Initially… many of us felt that Kim Kardashian would have to appear somewhere – not because any of us felt any particular admiration for the woman, but simply because her influence on millions of women worldwide is undeniable.

“But then the Caitlyn Jenner story broke and I in particular felt that she trumped all others in the celebrity stakes.”

She added: “I understand why someone like Jenner might make people feel uncomfortable; but she is a human being like the rest of us and should not be denied the same rights – or indeed respect – as those who live more conventional lives.

“As to her influence, it can only be to the good if a wider audience can learn to understand her experience.””

Woman’s Hour editor Alice Feinstein also gave her thoughts on the list, adding:

“”The way power operates in today’s global, interconnected society is not straightforward – brokers of hard power like prime ministers, presidents and CEOs are no longer calling all the shots.

“What I wanted to examine in this year’s list of influencers is how women are operating outside traditional power structures to get things done.””


We hope this is helpful in explaining the focus of this list, and giving more insight into the judges’ decisions, but we appreciate that you may continue to disagree with Caitlyn Jenner’s inclusion and we appreciate your feedback.

Please know complaints are sent to programme makers and senior management every morning and we’ve included your points in our overnight reports. These reports are among the most widely read sources of feedback in the BBC ensuring that complaints are seen quickly by the right people.

I would have preferred Kim Kardashian be on the power list instead of Caitlyn Jenner, since Kardashian has not:

  1. Killed another woman this year with her car. Unlike Jenner who killed Kim Howe
  2. Kardashian financially supports her daughter. Unlike Jenner who failed to financially support his sons from his first marriage.
  3. Kardashian hasn’t bragged about stealing anyone’s underwear. Unlike Jenner who stole his stepdaughters’ underwear and wore it. Which is massively creepy and the type of activity sexual predators enjoy.

Obviously, the BBC doesn’t let little things like child abuse or killing women get in the way of declaring an abusive man a great woman. I can’t wait to see next year’s list. Maybe they will include a child sexual predator for funnsies.

Rihanna’s BBHMM is misogyny – and it is no different than Tarantino

I’ve only just watched Rihanna’s Bitch Better Have My Money. I’m in a house with 5 children under the age of 10 – none of whom sleep at the same time. It’s taken this long to get them all out of the house/ asleep so I can watch it on the computer. There’s only one in a house with no wifi so that the children’s internet usage can be monitored – or, as the children point out, Nanna can’t actually work out how to set up the wifi. Either way, there are difficulties in responding to events in a timely manner – particularly since 3 of the 5 are literate.

I wasn’t going to write about the video since everything that I would have wanted to say has already been written. I changed my mind when I read this piece of drivel in the Guardian:

the themes of sexualised violence, seemingly gratuitous nudity and non-consensual BDSM sent segments of the world’s media into a state of apoplexy

There is no such thing as “non-consensual” sexual anything. It is sexual violence. In this context, the sexual violence is accompanied by physical violence. Women who are sexually assaulted are not responsible nor do they ‘deserve’ it.

It is, as Helen Lewis and Sian and crooked rib have argued, simply another media form which celebrates punishing a woman for the behaviour of a man. It is an inherently misogynistic theme.

I have to be honest, though, had I not read Sunny Singh’s article in Media Diversified, I would not have recognised the opening scene as an

acknowledgement of the historical erasure of women of colour by white women who – as a group – have benefitted from both white supremacy and colonialism.

I watched the video with Singh’s comments in mind and I suspect she is right in stating that the

individualised subversion (and reversal) of historical structural racialized and gendered violence is why BBHMM has upset so many (primarily white) commentators?

The criticism directed at Rihanna reflects our racist, misogynistic media. Charlie Sheen, who actively engages in violence against women in both in his real life as well as in his career as an actor, is rarely held accountable for his behaviour. Quentin Tarantino has a houseful of accolades from his peers (and money from fans) for glorifying and excusing male violence. Roman Polanski got a standing ovation at the Oscars despite raping a child. The media rarely mention Sean Penn’s history of domestic violence.

If Eminem had made this video, the media would be talking about Grammy awards and platinum album sales. It would win video of the year at the American Music Awards and secure him a place in the Hip Hop equivalent of the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame.

Much of the media criticism is because Rihanna is a Black woman, but it doesn’t mean feminists should refrain from criticizing the video. It means we need to ensure that we do not hold Rihanna to a higher standard than other musicians – that we recognize the ways in which racism and misogyny play a part in how Rihanna’s video is represented in the media.

It also means calling bullshit when a commentator claims that “non-consensual BDSM” exists. Because it doesn’t. No consent is sexual violence. It is that simple.