Thursday, January 29, 2015

News catch-up, Part 2

Again, dear reader, I have a backlog of subject matter which arose during the past two weeks in which I was given very little chance to write. So, without further adieu, let's continue with the list:

M&S boys' only t-shirts:
Earlier this month, the British department store retailer Marks & Spencer stood accused by feminists and gender equality campaigners of sexism. Its dinosaur-themed children's t-shirts and pyjamas, which encourages an interest in the Natural History Museum, were labelled as "boys' only".
Critics have said this discourages girls from persuing science and sends the message that only boys can grow up to be researchers.
Let Clothes Be Clothes spokeswoman Francesca Cambridge said that if the museum wishes to inspire scientific curiosity in children, they are wrong to exclude girls by allowing M&S to classify the clothing in favor of only half of the population of children. "It's detrimental to the development of both boys and girls who are being told what they should be interested in," she said.
Although I roll my eyes at stories like these, because I believe we have bigger and more pressing issues to worry about, I agree that the contribution females can make to the world of science should not be discounted. Therefore, it is wrong to discourage girls, consciously or unconsciously. My sister-in-law has a brilliant mind and can understand robotics and higher mathematics in a way that I don't have a hope in hell of ever grasping. It is a great testimony to our society that women can contribute to our understanding of the world around us just as much as men can and have traditionally done.
So, M&S, scrap the "boys' only" labels and let's be done with this. And I hope that John Lewis, Tesco and other retailers that have a history of releasing girls' only clothing with sexually suggestive phrases on them are listening. Fulfill your obligations to a 21-st century customer base, and perhaps we can concentrate on other things.

End to Page 3:
One issue in which I completely have the feminists' backs is the controversy surrounding The Sun's Page 3. Since 1970, the publication has been featuring topless women on that page. After 45 years of what could arguably be thought of as the constant objectification and exploitation of women in a major tabloid newspaper, The Sun gave in to the demands of the No More Page Three campaign and stopped their daily titfest ... temporarily.
There is no equivalent to this in America, and I have always thought for good reason. There is something to be said for a puritanical policy regarding the press. Thusly, I have never been a fan of Page 3 because I don't understand it and I am not part of the "lad culture" that inspires and defends such things. When I wanted straight porn as a teenager, I had to start approaching the toughs in school in order to score it. Students also went to the reprobates for weed. This is the natural way of things. Porn and drugs are both illicit things. You want them? Be prepared to engage in a little shadiness to get them.
Don't get me wrong. There is nothing wrong with fit female bodies. Not by a long shot. But Page 3's popularity is somewhat disturbing in the type of men it attracts. You know the ones—they employ various tones and shadings of "oogah!" to let you know what they're feeling. Porn should not be so readily available in a publication that costs less than £1 to purchase. If The Sun had stuck to its decision, perhaps it could have sent a message that objectification of women is unacceptable, a message that would have filtered down to the youngest generation of Sun readers.
But, predictably, The Sun did not stick by their promise. On January 22, barely a week after announcing the "last" Page 3, the tabloid brought the feature back. It is thought that the backlash against No More Page 3 was so strong, The Sun felt justified in reviving the feature.
Also, perhaps The Sun's editors felt inspired by the whole Charlie Hebdo episode and decided to fight what they saw as censorship. That makes sense. I suppose I have to admire The Sun's  tenacity.
However, it was wrong for the newspaper to declare a moratorium on its pornographic page that it was not fully committed to.  I was among those who'd hoped for a bit more of a cultured approach from The Sun. But their yam-bags may be too big to allow for that.

Co-op bank not funding fracking:
Along with Page 3, another uniquely British way of life is the quasi-socialism of mutuals and co√∂peratives. John Lewis runs as an employee-owned business model while the Co-operative Bank is the financial side of a consumer co√∂perative scheme. Make sense? Of course not— it's British.
Anyway, The Co-op Bank, which has recently undergone a transformation and change of management necessitated by its coke-snorting former chairman Paul Flowers, has decided as a way to rebuild trust to refuse lending to companies that are involved with fracking.
Huh? We need fuel. Fracking is a way to get at the stores of natural gas that have previously proven difficult to tap. Natural gas has a carbon footprint that is significantly smaller than that of oil or coal and can therefore—if it is the fuel of the future—help Britain to meet carbon-reduction mandates. It would help restore my faith in The Co-op Bank if they would fund fracking.
Instead, it prefers to believe the usual crowd of false doomsday prophets who proclaim "this is going to turn people into mutants!" If the cons to fracking are what they currently are, wouldn't investment in the industry help energy scientists to refine processes and come up with technology that would make fracking environmentally friendlier?
The Co-op has also blacklisted payday loan firms. That makes much more sense than opposition to fracking. Payday loan companies are semi-regulated loan sharks who pray on the desperate. Snubbing companies that deal with payday lenders is a fine policy.
But the bank can do better than reject any involvement with fracking. Perhaps if it vetted its chief executives a bit better, it would not have had to regain people's trust. After all, the cocaine market is far more environmentally damaging than the fracking industry.


goddessdivine said...

Porn in any format is just degrading. The world would be better off if everyone honed in their sexual desires a bit and we treated the human body with respect.

Nightdragon said...

I'm with you 110% on that one, K. Well said.