Tom Cruise – shut up woman and stop arguing with your husband!

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Scientology’s in the news again, of course, because of the split between Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes.

Many tolerant people in modern societies are quite rightly reluctant to criticise other people’s religious beliefs, not least because of the very important issue of people’s right to freedom of religious expression.

So I’m not going to comment on the religion’s core beliefs – no matter how unbelievably crazy (in the case of Scientology) those core beliefs might be – and besides, I try to stick to politics here.

However, when a religion wanders into the sphere of politics, then all gloves are off.

Equality. Racism. Greed. 

They’re political issues, right?

So let’s look at Scientology from a purely political point of view, shall we?

EQUALITY

You don’t have to be much of a feminist to have a strong opinion about this comment by L Ron Hubbard, the founder of Scientology, on how men should treat women when they’re pregnant:

Advise her to keep her mouth shut when she gets into morning sickness, and when she’s on the toilet, and to stop arguing with her husband, and just give her a general idea of what will happen if she doesn’t.

RACISM

And you don’t have to know anything about the theology of Scientology to know where you stand on L Ron Hubbard’s open admiration for South African apartheid townships, do you:

Having viewed slum clearance projects in most major cities of the world may I state that you have conceived and created in the Johannesburg townships what is probably the most impressive and adequate resettlement activity in existence.

Or indeed what he thought about black people in general, in this advice in a letter to his wife:

You shouldn’t be scrubbing the floor on your hands and knees. Get yourself a n****r; that’s what they’re born for.

GREED

In 1991, a young 24-year-old killed himself clutching his last $171 in cash – all that was left after he’d turned all he had over to the Church of Scientology.

The head of Scientology, David Miscavige, whose wife Shelly by the way has been ‘missing’ since 2007, lives in luxury houses, flies around in private jets and has 5 personal chefs at his beck and call (which reminds me, the musician Beck is also a Scientologist).

Here’s another quote from L Ron Hubbard himself, this time on the subject of money:

Make money. Make more money. Make others produce so as to make money . . . However you get them in or why, just do it.

Not big fans of socialism then, Scientologists, I would imagine.

Alright. So by now we should have a pretty clear picture of where we stand politically when it comes to Scientology.

And it doesn’t look like there’s any need at all to get into deep theological discussions about the rights and wrongs of this particular ‘religion’.

Because it’s clear Scientology is just another excuse for a bunch of chauvinistic, greedy, racist, fabulously wealthy crooks to rip off as many poorer people as they possibly can.

And that’s politics – not religion.

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For more information on what Scientology really stands for, have a look here:

www.solitarytrees.net

Scientology is infamous for trying to silence its critics, so I’ll be checking for any suspicious vans with blacked out windows parked outside my home for the next few days.

For legal reasons I have to put this:

Dianetics and Scientology are trademarks of the Religious Technology Centre. This article is not connected with that organisation in any way.

This article was originally posted on Pride’s Purge.

In Defence of Mumsnet

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BY ALICIA J DUFFY ⋅ MARCH 19, 2012 ⋅ http://camelshump.co.uk/2012/03/19/in-defence-of-mumsnet/

Mumsnet, one of the major British parenting network sites, has always come in for a lot of flak, most of which comes from two points of view:

Those who think it is the same as the other fluffy pink mummy sites, full of bad spelling and tickers.
Those who think it is a sinister conspiracy against the country: a Boden and biscuits mafia.

Now we have a new one – those who think it is a distributor of “man hate”. Sigh. *

So, what is Mumsnet? Why does it cause such a problem?

When people say “Mumsnet” what they usually mean is the Talk section of Mumsnet, which is a huge message board or forum, aimed at parents (although the majority of users are mothers, there are a sizable minority of fathers, grandparents, childcare workers and childless people who also use the site). There are hundreds of sections, covering all aspects of life, not just parenting. Each section tends to have its own “feel” – so Pregnancy tends to be fairly gentle, Am I Being Unreasonable? is a hotbed of disagreements and strong debate and Feminist Activism can be pretty militant. There is a site wide policy of very light moderation, so swearing, heated discussions and pretty obscene conversations do occur (never, ever google anything users of Mumsnet tell you to google…). Members can name-change whenever they like, meaning that posters can reveal secret details on one thread then go back to joking with long term friends on another, under their usual nickname, which does not tend to be related to ‘real life’ identities. There are also no avatars, twinkly tickers, signatures or pictures, and only a very small range of emoticons.

Herein lies one of our problems. Mumsnet is very different to the rest of the parenting forums, and I would say that the main difference is that Mumsnet treats posters as adults. We aren’t mollycoddled, and the only things that get deleted (apart from spam) are personal attacks and hate speech. Mumsnet as a body of posters tends to be self regulating – so a poster coming on who doesn’t follow the rules will get very short shrift. This has given us a bit of a reputation for being bitchy, although, to me, it just means that we say how we feel, like grown ups. Other sites will tend to ban you if you express any forthright opinions, and so there are a good few Mumsnetters who are banned from other sites.

Mumsnet also tends to be a bit more educated than other sites. That’s not to say that Mumsnetters all have doctorates, or even GCSEs, but there is a higher expectation of basic education. Text speak and bad grammar are frowned upon, and there are often jokes about things like classic literature and politics. This is often given as evidence that Mumsnet is somehow elitist, and that “ordinary” people would be pushed out and ridiculed.

To me, there are endless websites where you can post cute little tickers, use vomit inducing euphemisms and tipe lyk u cant speel

Because of the general culture of the site, there is a higher than usual concentration of professionals and, in particular, journalists. Mumsnet is often used as a cheap research technique, with posts (usually without the knowledge and assent of responding posters) being used in news articles as the “opinion of parents” (I have had this happen to me, when I posted about an internet joke, and there was one reply – I was quoted twice, as different users, as proof that mothers in general found the joke hilarious). Justine Roberts, one of the founders of the site, can often be found on talk shows giving her opinion – she can’t give the opinion of Mumsnet as a whole, because the 2 million users that use the site every month can’t possibly have one opinion.

However, that, and the fact that the site regularly hosts web-chats with politicians and other movers and shakers, gives Mumsnet a reputation as attention seekers who try to control the media.

Why is it that people hate the idea of a site where women can get together to chat about sex, politics, parenting and culture? Men have most of the rest of the internet, and any woman daring to post anywhere else is often attacked if she dares mention anything feminine in any way. Parents of young children are likely to become isolated, and there isn’t the support network that used to exist to support young mothers.

So, if my baby is acting weirdly, or the cuts are pissing me off, or I just thought up a really good joke about mooncups…I’ll see you on Mumsnet.

Women and Children First

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On 15th April 1912, an Iceberg struck the Titanic on her maiden voyage. An ambitious, fated project, unsinkable they said. The tragedy is famous and so many lost their lives. Whether that tragedy was avoidable must have been discussed many times. The tragedy was the origin of the phrase, “Women and Children First!” As a result of this policy by far more women survived than men, and class was also a deciding factor.

With the centenary approaching, we see yet another sinking ship. It is an island just north of Europe. Desperately facing an iceberg, opportunists seek to make a killing before everyone heads for their life-boats. The family silver? Why not sell off the water, the energy of life, the health service – no doubt some off-shore financial centre, some haven where icebergs never go will take these off our hands – assets always come in handy in tax havens.

And so this island seeks to make cuts ..why pay the staff when the ship is sinking? Cuts to public sector workers is the easiest option! They can always ask for volunteers to step in. no matter they are unskilled and untrained.

Dave Prentis, UNISON’s General Secretary has said:

“We need urgent action to stop women being ground down by the Government’s devastating cuts. Two thirds of public sector workers are women, who are most likely to rely on these vital services.


“At the same time these women’s pensions are under a serious attack. Paying more, working longer, for less, when the average pension of a low paid woman council worker is just £2,800 a year – just enough to keep them off means tested benefits.


“Women are being hit hard by unemployment, the rising cost of living and cuts to benefits and services to young people.”


Cut, cut, cut. Women and children first? The Disabled? But no, Wasn’t there something about equality? This time it seems it is the women and children hit hardest. Public sector cuts hits women most as the public sector workforce is predominantly female. The group hardest hit are single mothers. The disabled and the dying are left to fend for themselves.

Child poverty set to rise for the highest in 20 years..

Alison Garnham, Chief Executive of Child Poverty Action Group has said:

“Child poverty and the incomes and services women are able to access are intrinsically linked. The vast majority of child benefit is received by women, whether as the main carer in a couple, or a single parent. It is hugely unfair that such a large burden of the government’s cuts should be falling on the shoulders of women and children, and it would be profoundly wrong if these unfair cuts to child benefit became permanent.”


These cuts being made by the Liberal-Supported-Conservative-Coalition must be halted. The Health and Welfare reforms must be halted. Public sector jobs will not be replaced by private – we are hitting a recession. To grow out of recession , we need to invest, not cut! We need teachers, and doctors, and nurses, and welfare officers. We need social workers and road builders. We need waste collectors. We need plumbers and builders. We need people to develop green technologies, we need engineers, and scientists. However,  I suspect we could live without bankers, without advertising, without multinational companies.

We do not want to live in a society where there are not enough life boats like on the Titanic, we seek to build a Britain where there is hope for everyone.

The government would do well to listen to the The Fawcett Society. This organisation which is backed by about twenty charities, unions and academics has  put forward a series of proposals which is what it calls a Life-Raft for women’s equality.

The recommendations include:

  • restoration of support for childcare costs for low-income families to pre-April 2011 levels – this would help ensure paid employment makes financial sense for the many low income women who’ve found they are better off not working. See also: Bold Approach to Childcare (Think Left)
  • Ring fencing of funding for Sure Start children’s centres – this would further protect women’s access to employment and shore up the other vital benefits these centres offer thousands of families.
  • Stopping local authorities from treating violence against women services as a soft touch for cuts to ensure that some of the most vulnerable women in the UK have access to the support they need.

Anna BirdActing Chief Executive of the Fawcett Society said:

“Women have not faced a greater threat to their financial security and rights in living memory. Decades of steady, albeit slow, progress on equality for women is being dismantled, as cuts to women’s jobs and the benefits and services they rely on turn back time on women’s equality.

“Women up and down the country are experiencing greater hardship; for those families affected the cuts to women’s jobs, services and benefits will represent a personal loss. But we must add to this the cost to wider society as women’s opportunities are scaled back. Fewer women working; a widening gap in pay between women and men; entrenchment of outdated gender roles at work and at home and women being forced into a position where they must increasingly rely on a main breadwinner or the state for financial subsidy – this is the picture that emerges when the many policies of economic austerity are stitched together.

“There are signs of hope that the government realises its economic strategy isn’t working for women, and we hope today’s speech signals a willingness to change course. Our report identifies a series of targeted and achievable policy measures that could be adopted by or at the 2012 budget, which together offer a life raft for women’s equality – and never has the need been so great.

“It represents the combined knowledge and expertise of more than 20 organisations and individuals across the charity, academic, voluntary and union sectors.

“Women’s rights are under unprecedented attack. But the government has the power to help stop the clock turning backwards.”

“We urge those who support our life raft to sign the petition on our website calling on government to adopt it in full, and join us on November the 19th for our national day of action in defence of women’s rights.” 

There is no hope in a world where it is every man for himself , one which lets women down, turns away from the disabled and vulnerable and lets children grow up in poverty. – look around – the ship is almost sunk.

REFERENCES AND FURTHER READING:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2011/oct/11/children-poverty-institute-fiscal-studies 400000 children to fall into relative poverty by 2015

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-15242103 Uk seeing big rise in poverty Oct 2011

http://www.thisislondon.co.uk/standard/article-23996620-warning-over-child-poverty-levels.do Evening Standard

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/child-poverty-set-to-soar-says-think-tank-2368747.html

Titanic : Disaster struck on April 15th 1912

“Women and Children First!” Policy of life-saving priorities with in sufficient lifeboats.

Statistics showing more women survived than men Titanic

A Bold Approach to Childcare (Think Left)

Poor Brum (Think Left) Poverty for women Then and Now.

Women as Voters and MPs (ThinkLeft) Women are unfairly represented.

Video: Children’s view of poverty Guardian “Poor Kids” June 2011

New Statesman Child Poverty set to soar under coalition

Woman and Poverty A study on Women and Poverty Women’s Budget Group

Unravelling equality The effect  of poverty on the women of Coventry

George Osborne and Benefits Cheat November 2011 – Guardian

The Fawcett Society on women in London

The full ‘Life Raft for Women’s Equality’ is available from Charlie.woodworth@fawcettsociety.org.uk  0207 253 2598

Tory-LibDem Government success in mislaying women voters!

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Ben Page of Ipsos Morri says, “Women, and working class women in particular, are shifting away from the government, reflecting the fact that they are hardest hit by both the recession and cuts in public spending.”

As described (http://think-left.org/2011/09/12/trade-unions-lead-the-fight-back/ ) women voters are, or will be, disproportionately worse affected by the cuts than male voters. This seems to have translated into a major fall in overall levels of ‘approval’ for the Coalition amongst women voters (only 25 per cent women voters approve, as compared with 33 per cent of men).

An Ipsos Mori poll commissioned by the think tank, Resolution, broke the poll results down according to age and class (with all the usual caveats about the inadequacies of such generalizations about 52% of the population).

At the 2010 general election, women were on average more likely than men to vote for both the Liberal Democrats (26%: 22%), and Labour (31%: 28%).  Women, aged 25-34, were also more likely to vote Labour than Conservative (by some 11% lead) but there was a highly significant shift away from Labour, for all age groups of C2 females; there being a 17% Tory lead.

However, by the middle of 2011, it was found that, amongst AB females aged 18-24, support for the Liberal Democrats had fallen from 34% to 8%; and support for the Tories had dropped from 30% to 18%.  Furthermore, only 13% of women felt that the Conservative Party was ‘the party which is closest to women and best understands and reflects their views’; and only 7% felt similarly about the Liberal Democrats.  Women were also found to rate both Cameron and Clegg personally, 6% less favourably than did men.

Gavin Kelly of Resolution commented on his New Statesman blog:

More recently the focus has switched to the way in which the deteriorating economic situation is impacting on many women, particularly those on low-to-middle incomes. Over the last quarter unemployment increased by 38,000, with 21,000 being women. Female unemployment had already risen by 76,900 over the last year – with the number of women out of work now 1.05 million, the highest since the spring of 1988 – and the forecasts are that female unemployment will continue to rise as women are disproportionately suffering due to their higher concentration in the public sector. Qualitative research suggests that women are more inclined to be pessimistic about the economy and feel they are more likely to lose out as a result of cuts. On top of this, particular groups of women — such as those in their 50s — are being faced with major shifts in their pension age that they weren’t anticipating, causing real concern.

Given the wider economic context of falling wages and rising prices you might think it is a uniquely dumb moment to be making it more difficult for households to sustain two people in work by withdrawing childcare support. But that is what is happening.’

 

.http://www.newstatesman.com/blogs/gavin-kelly/2011/09/women-support-coalition