Me on Comment is Free.
The British Isles started the tradition of women only being allowed to propose to man on February 29th of a leap year. Interestingly, particularly for these austere times, if the proposal was met with a refusal, then it was traditional for men to pay a fine to the woman in the shape of £100 or a silk gown or – as in Denmark – 10 pairs of gloves.
So if you could do with the cash, have a tendency to lose gloves or genuinely have found that man or woman that you are prepared to exclusively have sex with for the rest of your life, then here are some tips for women on how to do it.
Whether it’s printing “Think of the Tax Breaks!” on a billboard or taking the opportunity at half-time during the football, you must be sure that you are going to get a positive answer. A public forum does not necessarily mean your beau will be embarrassed into saying yes as this painful film demonstrates. If you are still unsure of which answer you will get but you really want those gloves (bear in mind the refusal fine is not legally binding) or you are really OK with being humiliated in front of thousands of people, do bear in mind that the only football teams playing tonight are Sheffield United, Scunthorpe, Ayr, Ross County, Arbroath, and Airdrie. That doesn’t bode well now does it?
Flash mobs (or any variation on singing and dancing your proposal)
Do Not Do This Under Any Circumstances. To arrange a flash-mob to encircle your beloved and perform an awkward zumba class will reveal yourself to be a despicable human being. If, in fact, they would enjoy such a ghastly experience, then they will show themselves to be without shame and therefore likely to climb on a table during the wedding reception to perform their John Prescott impression with their buttocks. You have been warned.
The Engagement ring
This is incredibly difficult area when a woman is doing the proposing. If you are proposing to a woman you’ll still need to fork out for a diamond while heterosexual men in Britain rarely wear engagement rings. Thus when you are on bended knee to a man, what are you going to proffer? They might appreciate a slice of cake, but this hardly has the symbolism of a ring. So try to find something ring-like that says “man”. My heart is telling me cock-ring but my head is telling me “your heart has the sense of humour of a 12 year old”. Also in capitalism’s rush to make us buy useless things, engagement rings for men are now being marketed as “management rings”. Only propose with one of these if you met your partner at a strategic business procurement conference because you’re clearly made for each other.
On bended knee
It is convention that you propose on bended knee which both discriminates against the arthritic or those who cannot sit down or stand up without making an “ooft” noise. Also, there is a high chance that a loved one may misconstrue the action of a woman kneeling down in front of them as the start of a sexual encounter. If you hear the sound of a fly being unzipped you have got perhaps 10 seconds to get through your proposal, so make it quick.
Don’t be too creative
Some people chose to propose while bungee-jumping or jet-skiing or somesuch. Presumably, they are under the impression that your potential betrothed will be so petrified they will say yes. But even something as simple as dropping a ring into a drink can result in your romantic gesture being delayed by the digestive tract of your loved one. No one wants their engagement to begin with searching for jewellery in their own faecal matter. Keep it simple; Hand Them The Ring.
All of the old cartoons of women proposing on a leap year depict ugly desperate women running after poor freedom-loving bachelors . Uphold this honoured tradition by clawing at their legs while you pop the question and sobbing. Why not wear your already-bought bridal gown? And entice them by taking pictures of yourself in the dress and photo-shopping your soon-to-be fiancé in? Nothing says “there’s no going back” like a tattoo of their face under an “I Love My Hubby” t’shirt. You’ll get a yes or a restraining order, either way your relationship will finally be legally defined.
Alternatively, women save yourselves embarrassment, rejection, expense and awkwardness by blissfully living in sin. We can then use 29th February for other things that we are not generally allowed to do; such as being a government minister.
Writing a humourous piece still will not save you from being called humourless. But at least I get to make the point in the comments that I’M GREAT AT PARTIES. *proudface*
I have now set the bar for number of fanny euphemisms you can get in one article on the Guardian. *bows*
You know what is the important issue for feminism today? Pippa Middleton. (This isn’t true but I get to make a bum joke)
SOMEHOW, a policy document from No.10 on womenfolk’s attitudes to the Coalition Government has been leaked…
RESTRICTED – POLICY
After extensive polling we have found that women don’t seem to like us. Cuts in public services will impact on women disproportionately and from the focus groups, women have told us that they find the House of Commons banter “prattish”. There is some suggestion that fear of privileged PR executives is a factor for most women. In addition, the group of old dears we assembled felt strongly that the choice of ‘safe words’ from Cabinet Ministers sent the wrong message as they weren’t adequately gender and ethnicity mainstreamed. Anecdotal views included the observations that this Government didn’t seem to know what it was doing and was destroying public services which would take generations to restore (But it is important to remember that this is purely anecdotal; and that we also found rather surprisingly that women’s views differ as much as men’s).
The messaging around addressing the deficit has not gone down well at all. Women resented being told to tighten their belts as many felt bloated after eating. We should perhaps consider a narrative centred on ‘loosing pounds’ to appeal to them.
After an integrated thought-shower, we generated a long list of ideas, including;
1. Restate an existing policy but press release it on pink paper and with a quote from Geri Halliwell (hard-working mother).
2. Back a campaign that Mumsnet is running. Research tells us that some women are mothers and those that aren’t are generally too jacked up on Magners with ice to vote anyway.
3. Event at No.10 for professional and high-achieving women; ladies love dressing up for parties. This event can include awards for contribution to their field and best dressed.
4. Cabinet members to wear more jumpers; particularly Aran ones.
5. Women like children (middle-class children exclusively), we have to make sure that we like children too. Get Igglepiggle to launch new education initiative whereby children can be taken on holiday during term time if the parents can demonstrate the trip will be educational and the deal was really good.
6. Further research into what women and other minorities think of us. Although women’s issues are certainly ‘niche’ they do seem to wield a certain power when it comes to voting. Polling at school gates and the Next sale queue should do it.
7. While we appreciate the Director of Strategy’s blue-skying, we’ve discovered that suggesting abolishing maternity leave didn’t go down well with women. We will however, look in to another rather radical solution, which will certainly address the problem head on, which is removing the vote from women.
Communications and messaging
8. Our polling shows the urgent need to up our game on communicating what we are already doing. Media profile is key so we will place strategic stories in key media. Initial ideas:
- We recognise what women are doing already and most of them are menstruating. Let’s get out a story about the PM buying tampons for his wife and how he wasn’t embarrassed to do so. We should do more research into the menstruation market.
- Support hard-working, reactionary women. Ensure that the lady MPs still front any work that restricts women’s rights à la Nadine Dorries. At all times think ‘What Would Loose Women Shriek’.
- Check our comedy influences with focus groups. In hindsight it was a mistake to look to Michael Winner as a communications guru. Additionally, feedback from focus groups tells us that PMQ banter comes across as “private school ponces wanking in a tuck shop”. We’re talking to Michael McIntyre’s people.
Me on the Guardian with some strategies for closing the pay-gap. Involves Dolly Parton.
I wrote for the Guardian Science Blogs on the obsession with ‘population control’ by some in the green movement and the need to take a women’s rights approach. Read it here.
I don’t think I have the requisite expletives for this. But those fucking wankers at Zoo have published an ‘advice’ column suggesting that a guy who can’t get over his ex should cut her face “so then no one will want her”:
The good people of Twitter got very angry about this and ‘Danny Dyer’ started trending pretty damn quickly. I, of course, complained to Zoo along with lots of other people. And I offered to collect the crowd-sourced contact details for the Zoo Editorial Staff and the magazine’s advertisers so that other people could complain as well (details at the bottom, I’ll come on to that).
By the end of the day, Zoo had offered a groveling apology (this is a link to Zoo’s website please go and leave a comment), Danny had said he was ‘misquoted’ and even the bloke who wrote the original letter came out of the woodwork (in a great post on this from Dr Petra). I really do believe that such a quick response came due to the involvement of social media in all this. Here’s the apology from Zoo:
Email response from Zoo Editor, sent by Claire Hodgson:
Thank you for your email regarding this week’s issue.
Firstly, let me unreservedly apologise for the inappropriate and
indefensible response to a letter which appeared. I am very sorry for any
offence it has caused.
Danny Dyer, and everyone else that works on Zoo condemn any violence against women, and by way of a sincere apology we are making a donation to Women’s Aid.
An internal enquiry is underway to find out how this extremely regrettable production error occurred and I will be tightening up any procedures necessary to ensure it cannot happen again.
We have already posted an apology on our website and will also be printing a fuller apology in next week’s issue.
Right, I’d like to make a couple of points….
1. Has any one noticed the line above the face slashy bit in Danny’s advice:
I’d suggest going out on a rampage…and smashing anything that moves
Now, when I first read this I thought it meant going around smashing things like bus shelters and cars. Then I realised that it said “anything that moves“, so men, women, children, animals, animate objects. I’m just saying, he might have a fucking problem.
Update: I didn’t believe this at first, but apparently ‘smashing’ means fucking. Which is much less disturbing… It just means he’s advocating sex with anything that moves; woman, man, child or animal. Yeah?
2. Danny Dyer has claimed that his words were taken out of context which makes me fascinated by what context would make face slashing acceptable…
…the other option is to cut off contact with your ex and face reality…?
3. “Production error” my arse. Who accidentally lent on a keyboard and “slash a woman’s face” came out? If this stuff is being written in your office, you might want to remove any cutlery and sharp objects.
4. I would believe that this was a “production error” that had been left in by accident by some dumbass intern if it wasn’t for the fact that these errors seem to happen EVERY FUCKING WEEK. Last month, Dyer recommended setting fire to a woman. Another error? Or just business as usual in this wankstain of a rag.
So this is why I’m still recommending that you complain to Zoo and to their advertisers. Their ‘apology’ demonstrates that they are open to criticism and correction, they just have never got it so hard and fast before. Plus it didn’t just come from a bunch of ‘usual suspects’ who they have easily dismissed before. So let’s keep it up.
Below are the contact details which I am still happy to collect by crowd source (tweet them to me@naomimc) and repost as I get new ones.
And just to remind you who we are dealing with here….!
Bauer Media, who own Zoo:
Jane Windsor, Corporate Communications: email@example.com
Sarah Ewing, Consumer Magazines – Trade: firstname.lastname@example.org
Jess Blake, Consumer Magazines – Consumer PR: email@example.com
Genevieve Potter, Specialist Magazines (Peterborough): firstname.lastname@example.org
Catherine Gort, Big City Network Radio: email@example.com
Hermione Clulow (Braben), Magic & KISS: firstname.lastname@example.org
Sarah Ewing, National Radio: email@example.com
Virgin Media: firstname.lastname@example.org
Public Relations: email@example.com
Advertising and research: firstname.lastname@example.org
So, men eh? Always thinking about sex, leer at women, lie, can’t communicate, fall asleep after sex – you’re all the same and it’s hardwired into your brain. It’s like the punchlines from those dull, unfunny ’10 Jokes About Men!!’ emails I get forwarded every-so-often (and then think less of the person who sent it to me). But this is all coming from Dr Louann Brizendine in her new book ‘The Male Brain‘.
This book looks like the perfect example of how lazy, boring gender stereotyping harms men as well as women. Dr Brizendine already targeted women in the imaginately titled ‘The Female Brain‘ back in 2006 where she wrongly claimed that women use an average of 20,000 words a day compared with only 7,000 for men (link to a funny article from The Guardian on this). Indeed, she removed this claim from the paperback version after the journal Nature said that she had failed “to meet even the most basic standards of scientific accuracy and balance”. So its not looking good.
First up, I haven’t read the book and am not sure whether I’m really prepared to stump up £12.99 to read it and, importantly, check out her sources. On the otherhand, I don’t have much of a life…
However, on the basis of what I can glean from the articles about the book (which obviously contain no references), it seems like ‘men’ are portrayed somewhere between an Andy Capp cartoon and a vile concoction from the minds of Loose Women (for Americans; this is like The View but the co-hosts are replaced with all-female gnashing, orange cruise-ship singers and Fox News pundits).
This is probably the most telling two sentences from The Times piece:
“[Brizendine] a US talk-show regular, draws her sweeping conclusions from a wide array of scientific data as well as her 25-year experience as a practising psychiatrist. To make her book palatable for the non-scientific reader she mixes established scientific fact with more recent untested theories.”
And there in lies the problem. Fact mixed in with some bullshit.
I have no doubt that there is variation between male and female brains. At the very least females menstruate and estrogen is critically involved in the sexual differentiation of the brain. The problem I have is the massive, culturally-blind leap that is made from differences in brain morphology and neurochemistry and men shouting while they’re driving or leering at women in public.
This very interesting review study in Biological Psychiatry, looks at sex differences in brain structure, function and chemistry and finds that there are many simiarities but significant differences including regional differences, blood flow and hormone receptors. The significance of these differences is in the treatment of disorders NOT shopping traits:
“These sex-specific differences in the healthy brain highlight the need to evaluate sex differences in neuropsychiatric disorders especially those that differ in prevalence and symptoms between men and women.”
Therefore, it is important to understand sex differences in the brain in order to understand neuropsychiatric disorders better while, as the paper states, taking into account genetic and environmental influences.
But more than anything, I really hope that any self-respecting man reading these articles is dismayed. Those that can communicate, aren’t violent and aren’t ‘pervs’ (according to The Times of India) do exist. I’ve met them. Moreover, I am more than a little unsettled when supposed ‘male’ behaviour is very familiar to me such as when someone tells you they have a problem you try and come up with a solution. Surely that’s just rational?
Also the heady mix of fact and bullshit leads to terrible reporting in the press and headlines such as: ‘Why your man will NEVER understand how you feel‘ and ‘Men Fib, Cheat and are Obsessed with Sex‘. Really not particularly helpful and very far from scientific.