Little thought, lazy content and a missed target


My new earrings


Journalism – death by a thousand blogs

I’ve noticed some annoying trends on the type of websites keen young interns post articles on in a bid to land a ‘proper’ job in journalism.

One of these is “Thought Catalog” whose content, whilst trivial, links to invidious right-wing conservatism, the special kind portrayed in Fox News.

This sort of thing isn’t my usual reading material, I’ve gone way beyond “20 things not to say on a first date”, although it strikes me that an awful lot of these sites love, just love, “lists”.

Lists, lists and more lists

“Lists” are a lazy thing to write and brain pap to read. They tend to confirm the reader’s limited view of the world and the ‘writer” doesn’t do much “writing”. Unsurprising, then, that they are churned out like grisly bargain sausages, no meat and all gizzard; which brings me to the reason why I discovered “Thought Catalog”.

A young misogynist writes

One of my Twitter contacts posted : “13 Things a Woman Can Do To Be More Attractive to a Man” – renaming it “13 Ways To Attract A Misogynist” – which got my attention. So I read it. The link is here:

Now that you’re back and, perhaps like me, are reeling a bit then trying to convince yourself it’s a clever piece of satire, I’m sorry to tell you that it’s not.

If you haven’t already, take a peek at the comments, you’ll find they are even worse. Yes, there are people who think like that roaming the earth in 2014 AD.

If we look at this from the point of view that it is developed under the shadow of an unholy conservative agenda, not only is it more sinister, but it also starts to make sense.

Who is John Smith?

I’ve tried to discover more about the “author” (I’m using that term as if it takes an “author” to write the safety warning on a bottle of toilet cleaner) and, it appears, that “John Smith” is a, not very original, pseudonym.

I can imagine a pen portrait if him very easily, though, as his type abound on the interweb posing as “journalists” as does his equally talent-free female counterpart.

He’s in his twenties. His mother works. She may even have a career. This has blighted little Johnnie, in so far that he fears that female attention is somewhat diffident, distracted and scarce. Life has since confirmed this.

Feminism has ruined a young boy’s life

Johnnie sees “Feminism” as this big bogey woman who has blighted his life.

“Feminism” allowed the girls at school to study with and outperform the boys.

Feminism created female confidence and independence which enabled the girls to be more selective about the men they dated.

It also allowed men to be their friends, on an equal basis. The girl’s could hold their own, so to speak.

Feminism educated these girls about their bodies and enabled them to express their sexuality, even allowing care-free or ‘predatory’ behaviour.

This all proved too much for little “Johnnie” and his ilk. They were the “beta boys” left behind. The wallflower wilting at the prom.

Subsequently, he has never forgiven womankind. Nor have men like him (see comments).

Johnnie is naive enough to think that all this female behaviour,that reinforces his deep-seated inadequacy, is a recent phenomenon.

He thinks it’s all down to that awful, unattractive, feminism.

Johnnie had a dream

He’s swallowed the myth that, in the cozy past, we were all like Doris Day, adding our “Womanly Touch” to our pastel coloured kitchens, whiling away the hours until the big, strong, hubby calls “Hello honey, I’m ho-ome”!

We’d fix him a drink, kneel to take off his shoes, hand him his slippers and a pipe and listen with admiration as he recounted the trials, tribulations and small victories of his bread-winning day.

Is it cruel to tell him this has never been true?

Johnnie’s dream is shattered

Johnnie, bless him, has NO idea what is in a woman’s mind.

That said, many men have been fearful of that since the Dawn of Mankind.

Every Judeo/Christian/Islamic religion has been very afraid of women, one would think that the entire litany has been designed to deal with that fear.

At least the old religions had Kali and the Triple Goddess to afford some sort of acknowledgement of female power. Even this has been perverted over the course of time.

So, it’s not “feminism” that is little Johnnie’s problem, it’s fear of women.

Johnnie wrote to the world about it

Fear is written all through his fantastical “13 Points” – let’s take them in turn:

1. Stay In Shape

Viewing a woman as an “object” is one pathetic way of trying to diminish her power.

If men can control her body, they feel a little less fear. If that body can be made less womanly, slimmer, hairless and more pre-pubescent, again, it’s less scary.

I love the pseudo commanding tone he uses, as if speaking for all men, it’s very “little Napoleon” and exposes his anxiety about female sexuality beautifully.

2. Lay Off The Body Modification

The last thing young Johnnie wants is a woman in charge of her body. A woman with the confidence to express herself in any way she chooses. A woman who has rejected the fearful male stereotype of controllable, acceptable, femininity and who has the temerity to make her own choices. See (1) it’s the same issue.

3. Make Your Own Money

He contradicts himself deliciously here. He fears his inadequacy to “keep a woman” (because he can’t achieve that he-man ideal for himself) and is very conflicted about her earning MORE (despite the gender pay gap, many of us do, these days) it’s OK as long as…wait for it…she “refrains from throwing it in his face like some form of one-upmanship”;or should that be one-upwomanship?

His Freudian slips are showing.

4. Be Feminine

“Men want to date WOMEN, not men with vaginas” Note he doesn’t explain what ‘femininity’ is, he doesn’t know, too scary. But he’s inadvertently let slip a phobia about transexuality. A common issue with those uneasy with their own sexuality. Bet he’s freaked by LGBT in general.

Also, is one to assume his “masculinity” has credence – one doubts the efficacy of such, given what’s gone so far?

5. Be submissive

“This kind of overlaps with being feminine” Ah – a clue!  We’re back to the fantasy Doris Day scene again. Shall we tell him, girls, that women are never ever “submissive” unless we choose to be and, what’s more, the entire point of the myth of femininity is that woman has, for millennia, controlled men by doing little girlish favours in order to obtain what SHE wants? “Oops, silly me, I’ve accidentally got pregnant/spent all your money/lost your car etc.”

6. Sex Life

He’s given up on the idea of the perpetual virgin, or so he says; but note the glaring admission that women are not to be sexually experienced, just a “little” experienced, in a monogamous relationship, but heaven forbid anything more adventurous. He uses the very quaint term “the town bicycle”!

It’s that fear again. The fear of being subsumed by a sexually voracious, ever-hungry vagina. Poor, sheltered, small town boy. Such sexual insecurity, bless his little cotton socks!

7. Be Intelligent

You must be able to “flex your mental muscles”, apparently. The thing is, any woman who hasn’t had a full frontal lobotomy wouldn’t WANT to have anything to do with him. Ah well, back to the fantasy…

8. Be Child-Free

The fear of fecundity! It has been said that the insecure man fears the power of a woman to give birth (or not) because it is something they have such little control over. Guys like this must be freaking out about donor sperm. Even Cleopatra put a pebble up her noo-noo to avoid a bun in the oven.

The other classic phobia is “cuckolding” which he inadvertently admits by saying it’s such a turn off to deal with another man’s child.

Cuckolding is as old as human/animal kind. When we lived in tribes, it didn’t matter too much, the point was to reproduce as often as possible. The “Alpha Male” may have fought for “first dibs” but, the presence of other spermatozoa  increased the chance of pregnancy and ensured continual gene pool improvements.

He’s scared of a lot of things, little Johnnie.

9. Be willing to cook at least three times a week

Again, our little friend has had to scale back his fantasy, just a little. Maybe it’s because his working “Mom” used to leave the pot-roast for him to heat up after school; or maybe she didn’t cook at all?

Poor little man craves the comfort of a surrogate mother SO MUCH, being “fed” by a woman must be a painful longing for him. Weaned too early, perhaps?

10. Put down your phone

Heaven forbid that you might have interests and other people apart from “Your MAN”! Remember the earlier scenario, when Doris patiently listens to hubby’s boring ramblings about his day, with what appears to be rapt attention? Johnnie is crying out for some of that.

Some poor girl must have made the mistake of dating him once, perhaps out of pity, perhaps unknowingly, but whatever the reason, she must have felt her brain shrivelling up with boredom as Johnnie droned on and who can blame her – she texted her mates to arrange her escape. Many of us have been in that unfortunate position.

Johnnie, if a girl is glued to her phone, she is NOT interested in you. Have we cleared that up? Good. Let’s move on…

11. Ease Up on the MakeUp

Johnnie has been looking at the women’s magazines on-line again! He’s seen “The celebrities that are unrecognisable without their make-up” articles!

He’s scared again. Scared that he’ll meet a woman who, when she gets home, takes off her hair, eyelashes, teeth, chicken fillets and cache sex and REMINDS HIM OF HIS MOTHER! Or father..whatever.

12. Stop Cussing!

Not long now, readers, I’m getting bored with Johnnie, too.

Here Johnnie shows his bible-belt upbringing. “Mama said ladies don’t cuss”

Fuck me. The bible is bereft of juicy Anglo-Saxon, but I reckon it got lost in translation around the time of King James, another milksop, so afraid of women that he toasted thousands as ‘witches’.

I like to think of Revelations as a big “Fuck you, you’re fucked”  – but, of course, I’d never call anyone a cunt in polite company. Well, not unless my ire was raised. I expect I’d call Johnnie a cunting wanker, though.

13. Stop Hoarding Guy Friends

Oh dear. Here’s that insecurity again. Johnnie is very worried that if he ever gets a girlfriend she’ll be shagging other men behind his back. You’re right, Johnnie, she will.

Finally, you’ve got to love the boy’s attempt at a pre-emptive strike at the criticism he knows is coming his way (because it has always, always, been so).

Bet he didn’t expect this though?

There endeth the lesson.







Are Grammar Schools an evil scourge on society?

There was an article in a The Guardian, that bastion of the comfortable ‘left leaning’ elite that poured scorn on the last remaining 163 Grammar Schools in the UK:

Grammar schools do not aid social mobility. Stop this deluded thinking | John Harris via @guardian

The measure the author has used is based on the percentage of free school meal claimants in these schools; to paint a picture of snobby, middle class social exclusion, therefore, damning the very idea of Grammar schools as an evil societal menace.

Firstly,I’d like to refute the article’s facts:

*The few remaining Grammar schools are highly sought after, so naturally, there will be a middle class bias, as these parents will move hell or high water to coach, cram and geographically re-locate their children in order to get ‘Private Education Quality for Free’

*The geographical locations of these schools are not in poverty-stricken, under privileged areas, so the catchment area adds yet another bias.

On these two points alone,the article falls down because the source of information is completely skewed. Of course there is a low percentage of pupils claiming free school meals in these establishments! This doesn’t mean that Grammar schools fail poorer pupils per se, especially not when you look at the historical context and the current results.

Back in the hey days of the Grammar schools in the 1950’s, 40% of the students were from poor backgrounds, which was why they were hailed as an opportunity for a meritocracy, giving disadvantaged children the chance to improve their social status and future earnings.

By the time the ideologically driven Harold Wilson Government decided to abolish the Grammar School system in favour of a poorly conceived ‘universal comprehensive’ system, there were less than 30% of poorer students attending Grammars, this has now reached a low of 2.7%,  if we are to use the free school meals calculation as a reliable indicator.

Now that we are down to a mere handful of schools, it’s worth making a common sense comment – the reason why middle class parents fight so hard to get their children into Grammar Schools is that the education is GOOD.

A recent study by the Oxford Review of education, entitled “Who Benefits From Grammar Schools” compared the county of Buckinghamshire – one of the last areas with several Grammar schools, with pupil results from equivalent non Grammar schools in Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire.

This survey looked at various weighting of their sample, including actual exam and test results pre and post schooling and other indicators such as socio-economic groupings and race.

I believe this is a more robust report to the Sutton Report which the Guardian article selectively refers. Here are some highlights:

Differences in exam attainment – comprehensives vs grammar 2013 based on Buckinghamshire schools:

Grades of C and above 1.5 x greater in Grammar Schools

The odds of gaining 5 GCSE’s are between 9 and 13 times greater at Grammar schools

Of grammar school pupils claiming FSM, they were 53% MORE likely to gain English & Maths grades of A to C than their secondary school peers.

Academically borderline pupils gain a 4-5 point advantage of gaining 5 GCSE’s at grades A to C by attending Grammar School

Although the proportion of under-privileged children is small, this does not mean that they don’t benefit from the more academic environment that a Grammar school provides. The issue is that there are NOT ENOUGH OF THEM. If every area had at least one Grammar school, we would see a wider selection of Socio-Economic groups attending.

I believe that every child has the right to a quality education that teaches them how to think, stay curious,engaged and finds and nurtures their individual talents.

We need all kinds of people in society, from the academic to artistic, the scientists, the visionaries, the carers, the artisans, the service providers.

I think Grammar schools are PART of the answer, but not in isolation. There should be a range of educational establishments of the same high quality as a traditional Grammar school free to ALL children.

Whether it suits our utopian ideology or not, children are individuals. Some will thrive in a disciplined, academic, environment and some would do better in a more task oriented one. The needs of the children should be at the heart of our education system including long term consideration of what roles in life they are being educated FOR.

I have had direct personal experience of a state run Grammar school (single sex) and endured it changing to a Comprehensive half way through my schooling.

The difference in standards was enormous. Teachers left to join the private sector, classrooms were so over-crowded, they built temporary classrooms in the playing field and a previously disciplined school became unruly, with fights, attacks on teachers and general anarchy being the order of the day. The two schools could not integrate.

The Comprehensive and Secondary Modern concepts were neither thought through, nor funded sufficiently – resulting in an unfair system.

Educational results are now some of the poorest in Europe and because the opportunities for social mobility are closed to most, we have more Public School alumni in positions of power than ever.

A return of the Grammar school in every educational area would do something to address this, we could even ensure that selection is representative of the demographics of their catchment areas, provided the pupils pass an entrance exam.

Skills, talents and personality need to be taken account of in each stage of a child’s development so that education suits THEIR needs. There will always be some children who, due to unfortunate circumstances, do not engage, but it is our duty to find something they can excel at and train them accordingly.

Grammar schools are not for everyone, but a one size fits all comprehensive system isn’t either. Why penalize any of our children because of their background? Why not reward hard work and merit?