Words are only part of the problem

[Content note: ableism, rape]

It seems everyone is losing faith in politicians these days, and you can see why when it seems every other week one of them is making headlines for having said something horrendously offensive. I don’t know about you, but I’m starting to get tired of public figures apologising for ill-chosen words, when usually the words they’ve chosen are only part of the problem.

Two days, two scandals. Both about words.

Today, Swindon mayor Nick Martin was told to apologise for using the word ‘mongol’ to describe people with disabilities having sex during – irony klaxon – a presentation about abuse that they might face.

“I have apologised for using a word I shouldn’t have,” he said, telling BBC Wiltshire that it’s a word he “was brought up with” and is “not a modern word”.

Words are powerful. Some words are made more powerful because they’re tied up with a history of oppression. ‘Mongol’ isn’t just an old fashioned phrase; it’s no longer used by most people because it’s an exceptionally ableist and racist way to refer to someone with Down’s syndrome. Because it’s offensive and hurtful, and you’d hope we’d moved past the mentality that it’s acceptable to treat people as anything less than equal, regardless of ability or sex or ethnicity or any other trait.

So his apology wasn’t enough. But it’s not just that one word that was the problem. The rest of the sentence was hardly innocuous – though it would have been grounds enough for resignation if it had. What he said was: “do we allow these mongols to have sex?”

So you can see why people are calling for his resignation. And I agree with them – I don’t want someone in power who refers to disabled people as though they don’t have the capacity to make decisions for themselves. Or that they need handlers letting them do things, like animals who should be kept under better control.

I don’t want someone in power who uses language that reinforces the them|us divide or suggests that a certain group deserves to be marginalised and kept at the fringes of society.

I don’t want someone in power who thinks someone’s disability makes their sex life his business.

I don’t want someone in power who thinks that when he does these things, his only problem was using a word he shouldn’t have. Do you?

Today’s second apology came from Tory councillor Barbara Driver, after she likened planners’ powerlessness in the face of a bullish council to rape in pretty much the most grossly offensive way possible: “when rape is inevitable, lie back and enjoy it”.

I’m not going to repeat what I’ve written several times before about the devastating effects of trivialising rape – you can read about that here, here and here. But it’s not just what she said in the first place that made me uncomfortable, but the apology as well.

“I was trying to put across – badly I will say – the fact of developers having not put much social and affordable housing in and the council saying we can’t do anything about it,” she said.

“But I used a term that I had heard years ago without thinking. It was totally dreadful. it was done without thinking about the rape bit. I know that sounds silly.”

‘Silly’? It’s not just that the analogy was crass, or inappropriate, or dismissed thousands of people’s traumatic experiences – though that would be enough. What makes it even worse is that it was used, as Driver explained, utterly unthinkingly.

I don’t want someone in a position of power who doesn’t think about the rape bit. I don’t want someone who doesn’t consistently have the wellbeing of the people they represent at the front of their mind to be making decisions on behalf of those people.

I want more from a public servant than the ability to choose words carefully in spite of their prejudices.

Words are only part of the problem.

Oklahoma to follow Texas with ’30 mile’ abortion bill: the War on Women rages on

2013 was a bad year for the Republican Party, women-wise. Between the resurfacing of Todd Akin’s “legitimate rape” gaffe and Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli’s astonishment that God hasn’t stepped in from stopping abortion in America from running “as far and foully as it has”, they rounded off the year looking like it’s possible they might have an image problem.

Texas senator Wendy Davis

Everyone’s favourite pro-choice Texas senator Wendy Davis. Photo: Callie Richmond/Texas Tribune

Coverage has died down in the British press, so you could be forgiven for thinking that things have gone a little quiet on the War on Women front.

But rest assured the WoW’s champions are still going strong, and if you haven’t been watching closely you may have missed a Virginia senator referring to a pregnant woman as a ‘host’, or the several disturbingly restrictive abortion laws passed in GOP strongholds across the US.

Last month a federal judge struck down the nation’s first “foetal heartbeat” ban on abortion after 12 weeks in Arkansas as unconstitutional, while legal proceedings are still ongoing after a federal judge blocked the passage of a law imposing a six week ban in North Dakota last summer.

Still, the anti-choice lobby is nothing if not tenacious, and last Thursday the Oklahoma Senate passed a bill to add new restrictions on abortion procedures that they say will protect women’s health.

As well as a ban on abortions after 20 weeks, one of the key stipulations of senate bill 1848 is that doctors performing abortions must have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of the clinic “to facilitate the transfer of emergency cases if hospitalization of an abortion patient or a child born alive is necessary”.

The Republican lawmaker who wrote the bill, Mike Ritze, justifies it with the reasonable-sounding explanation that “if the federal law is going to allow abortions, the state has a responsibility to our citizens to ensure those procedures are done as safely as possible”.

At first glance it seems fair to assume that Ritze, who is, after all, a physician, would want to make sure that women who suffer complications can receive treatment.

Yet the provision begins to sound less reasonable once you realise that it’s completely unnecessary – an argument that fell on deaf ears when it was put forward by the Texas Hospital Association, the American Medical Association (AMA) and the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG).

The AMA and the ACOG filed an amicus brief in December arguing that legislative enactments like the 30-mile admitting privileges requirement “do nothing for the health of women and are incongruous with modern medical practice”.

“In contemporary medical practice it is not only accepted, but expected, that a woman experiencing a rare complication from an abortion – or any other medical procedure – will receive care for that complication from a nearby hospital,” it read.

But Ritze doesn’t need to be told this – he is, after all, a physician. With the medical argument thoroughly debunked, the bill seems to be less about ‘women’s protection’ and more about restricting access to safe, legal abortion.

Oklahoma’s population of less than four million is spread over an area three quarters the size of the UK, and finding a physician authorised to admit patients to a hospital within a 30-mile radius will be no small feat in rural areas with limited access to medical care.

The result: abortion clinics will be forced to close. This isn’t an unfounded assertion; we know that this will happen, because a similar law has already taken effect in a neighbouring state with devastating efficacy.

The bill’s privileges criteria mirrors almost exactly that of the controversial abortion bill so famously filibustered by Senator Wendy Davis. Last month the state’s last two rural abortion clinics in Texas closed down after weeks of – ultimately failed – negotiations.

No; the assumption that the bill might actually protect women comes without the knowledge that Grand Old Party has always had an odd way of defining ‘protection’ when it comes to women’s reproductive health.

And that’s what bites the most – that the continuing push to restrict women’s reproductive freedom is done under the guise of protecting women. This despite the fact that the bulk of evidence shows that when laws heavily restrict abortion, the number of abortions doesn’t go down. The number of women dying goes up.

Bill 1848 will face a final reading and vote before it can pass into law; but with both houses having passed the bill with an overwhelming majority, its smooth passage into law seems inevitable.

We can only hope that it will be obstructed by a legal challenge, as in North Dakota and Arkansas. Even Texas might provide some hope, as campaigners have brought a second legal challenge despite one attempt failing. The war rages on.

Sex myths without substance: Mislabelling Japan

I wrote a piece for the Independent after the ‘No sex please, we’re Japanese’ BBC documentary and a number of articles that have cropped up recently on Japan’s declining population:

Every few months, as if to remind us what a disturbingly odd place Japan is, an alarming Japanese news story explodes online. Western media outlets clamber over each other in their haste to cover the story, with every report of bagel headssnail facials or ritual head shaving being used as further evidence of a unique Japanese weirdness. A lack of understanding (and, sometimes, basic fact-checking) means that entire stories are lifted, often without critique, and churned into dubious clickbait. Earlier this year, widespread coverage of a supposed eyeball-licking epidemic among Japanese teens that turned out to be a hoax left more than a few editors red-faced.

This round was kicked off with an article in the Guardian looking at reasons behind Japan’s rapidly declining population. Since then, sound-bites have been repeated and distorted, and the spiralling birth rate figures have become a hook for a spate of ill-informed, voyeuristic articles that fail to note that the ‘weirdness’ they see before them is far from representative.

Read more here.

Sex work: thoughts on ‘selling your body’

Those of you who’ve followed this blog for a while will know that I’m firmly against the criminalisation of sex work. I call it sex work because the term recognises that, as with any other form of work, there should be terms of sale and workers’ rights and safe working conditions. Besides, sex workers pay tax.

But this post is less about the actual work than the language we use to talk about it. Specifically, it’s about the huge problem I have with the phrase ‘selling your body’.

[Disclaimer: this is in the context of female sex workers/male clients. This is mainly because I'm criticising public discourse, and discussion of male sex workers is usually excluded from that. I have no experience of sex work, and I don't presume to speak for those who do. I am not talking about sex trafficking. That is an entirely separate issue.]

‘Selling your body’

When someone pays for sex, they’re buying sex. They don’t suddenly gain ownership of a woman’s body any more than any other man who sleeps with any other woman does.

If I sleep with someone, I don’t ‘give away’ my body. My body is no one’s but my own, no matter who I have sex with; I retain the right to do what I like with it, and to give or refuse consent as I wish. So do people who have sex for money. We must never lose sight of everyone’s right to bodily autonomy.

Talking about selling a body rather than a service implies a permanent state of affairs. It leads to the belief that consenting to sex on one occasion means that consent is automatic from then on. That’s George Galloway territory, and that’s nowhere we need to go.

Women are constantly told that their bodies are not their own. There’s an assumed public ownership where we’re told that we need to look a certain way in order to please others. We’re taught that bodies are for decoration and for pleasing men. Let’s take every opportunity we can to avoid language that buys into this.

‘Selling yourself’

This is so much worse. Not only does the client now own a woman’s body; they actually gain ownership of the woman.

If you’ve ever used the phrase ‘selling yourself’ and gone on to talk about sex work being degrading and dehumanising, then bravo. You’ve done a fantastic job of dehumanising the people you’re talking about. By equating the service someone provides with their actual personhood, you’re implying that that’s all their worth. Is your estimation of women so low that you think they’re worth no more than the sex they’re having? Sex workers are selling a service, an experience, or their time. They’re not selling their very being.

Sexual behaviours as states of being

There’s an interesting aside to all of this. There are parallels to be drawn between the unsold|sold distinction and the way we talk about virginity. It all reflects this obsession we have with categorising sexual behaviour as states of being. We talk about virginity as though there’s a profound and irreversible change in someone’s character the moment they have (usually PIV) sex for the first time. What other experience do we talk about like that? Trying drugs, alcohol, different types of food? Swimming? Praying?

The idea of exchanging rights over someone’s body being a turning point – your body was yours, but now you’ve given it away and it’s not – suggests that behaviour defines you and enacts an irreversible change. But that’s not the case; shockingly, people aren’t defined by their sexual behaviour. They may choose to have (or sell) sex at some times and not at others. There’s nothing helpful about adding an arbitrary cut off point between ‘unsold’ and ‘sold’. All it achieves is adding to stigma by suggesting there’s something inherently other or lesser about women who decide to have sex for money.

There’s a lot more to be said about sex work and the language surrounding it; this is just something I’ve been thinking about today. I think this needs saying as much as possible: women are not sex, and they are not their bodies. It’s an important distinction to make.

A lesson in how not to apologise, courtesy of Tequila UK

Last week, a promotional video was released on Facebook advertising a club night called Tequila UK, hosted by Mezz in Leeds. It was ugly. A presenter went around asking clubgoers ‘How are you going to violate a fresher tonight?’

This is kind of close to the bone, because I studied at Leeds. I’ve never actually been to Mezz but I’ve walked by it a few times.

You can read a few of the responses from the video below. HUGE trigger warning on this one…

Tequila UK Freshers Violation video

“She’s paying for the cab, she’s paying for the drinks… she’s gonna get raped.”

“I’m gonna fist them in the ass, they won’t even know”

“Violate is a very strong word. I would say I’mma take advantage of someone”

As an extra bonus, the presenter makes fun of one guy who says he’s not up for raping first years:

“How are you going to bring girls back to your little den?”

“I’m not, mate, I’m taken”

“By who? Who would take you?”

I’m pretty familiar with Tequila’s advertising, and I’ll admit that while it’s generally sexist and objectifying, before I saw the video I didn’t really expect to be as outraged by the video as people were making out. What’s new about another sexist club night? Maybe it’s because I would never have imagined that any PR exec would think this would help their image.

Tequila has since taken the video down, but the LS (formerly Leeds Student) has managed to get hold of the audio file.

LS did a great job of reporting on it quickly, gaining national coverage. After seeing the video I did feel a little swell of pride that my ex-student paper is leading the charge against Tequila UK, along with the uni’s feminist society and Equality & Diversity officer.

They weren’t the only ones condemning the video, though – people shouted it down on social media, and Leeds RAG announced that they were ending a sponsorship deal with Tequila:

However, there was the ever-predictable tide of people rushing to defend the video as ‘banter’:

Don’t you guys think your overreacting and taking it all a bit too seriously? No one’s using the word violate seriously its all for a bit fun. Why don’t you all just learn to take a joke

tongue and cheek? its when something said or done shouldnt be taken at face value. the tequila brands advertising and promotions has always been like this. if you dont like it you shouldnt go

People who claim that the rape ‘jokes’ in the video are just that fail to admit that they’re part of a wider, cultural problem. Sadly, this is one of the uglier sides of student life – misogyny is everywhere, but there are particular areas of student life where they’re particularly prevalent. One of the last features I wrote for Leeds Student was about lad culture at university.

Here are some of the stats that came up:

Almost two thirds of female students said that they had experienced verbal sexual harassment on campus, compared with under a tenth of men

20% of female students said they had experienced verbal sexual harassment several times

10% of women said that they had experienced physical sexual harassment on campus – this despite the Union’s zero-tolerance policy on sexual harassment and assault

Off campus, the figures were far higher:

86% of female students said they that had experienced some form of harassment on more than one occasion; 28% said that this was a regular occurrence. 20% of men said they had experienced either form of harassment on a night out.

Women (and, yes, a couple of men) described being groped, pinched, threatened and having hands shoved up their skirts and tops. Tequila’s video reeks of the attitude behind this kind of assault – one that disregards the consent, even the humanity, of the person being assaulted. This is a problem in the UK, and it is definitely a problem in Leeds.

Joking that rape is commonplace and consequence-free rings a little hollow when rape is commonplace, and when severe consequences for the attacker are not.

Are we going to have to go over the rape stats again? I’ve written about rape humour in more detail here, but here are a couple of figures released earlier this year if you can’t spare the time to read more of my rants. It’s estimates that between 60,000 and 95,000 people are raped every year in the UK. Only 15% go to the police. Just one major sex crime in 38 leads to a conviction.

Draw your own conclusions.

The apology

Tequila finally apologised yesterday. This was after they removed the video, replacing it with another, more toned-down version, before being forced to take that one down too and actually address it:

[W]e wish to apologise unreservedly for the offence that has been caused and would like to explain, without trying to excuse, a little about who we are, what we stand for and how we hope to change for the better as a result of this situation.
[...]
We could say: “We can’t control what the public say” and we could say: “It’s the videographer who chose the final cut” which although accurate, would mask the fact that we are accountable for comments like this getting into the public domain and we will take full responsibility.
[...]
For the past 20 years, we have encouraged students to enjoy a safe, positive experience on a night out in Leeds and this still remains true.

You can read it in full here. TL;DR? “We apologise unreservedly, but you should bear in mind that we didn’t film, edit, or actually watch* the footage before it was published in our name, so we’re not really responsible, are we?; there’s no excuse, but here are some excuses anyway; we don’t condone sexual assault, even though we just did; we get that you don’t like it, and SORRY FOR YOUR FEELINGS LOL”

*not true

Clearly, no one’s ever taught Tequila UK how to apologise properly. In case you ever find yourself accidentally releasing a video encouraging sexual assault and subsequently needing to apologise for it, here are a few pointers:

  1. You don’t get to make caveats. Taking full responsibility means you don’t get to say “someone else had the video rights”. The “we could say (which we won’t… but go on, we will anyway)” is slimy and evasive, and not what ‘taking responsibility’ looks like.
  2. Taking full responsibility means accepting that your actions have consequences – not just upsetting people, but perpetuating a culture that normalises and trivialises rape. That’s actively making students less safe.
  3. As a general rule, an apology loses all sincerity and value as soon as the words ‘for any offence caused’ are added. Here’s why:

Saying “sorry for any offence caused” allows for the possibility that no offence has  Tequila’s peddling of misogyny and rape culture to sell a club night is offensive. Claiming that the video did not promote sexual violence is offensive. Attempting to deny responsibility is offensive.

Allowing such a broad scope of possible offence or non-offence also implies that offence isn’t a reasonable reaction. Apologising for ‘offence caused’ (note passive voice) is very much like apologising for someone else’s feelings. It’s saying ‘I’m sorry you feel offended’ rather than ‘I’m sorry I did an awful thing, and you have every right to be offended’.

And here’s the kicker: the impact of the attitudes in the video are far, far more serious than just offence. When you mock rape, don’t have the barefaced arrogance to brush off the feeling motivating every angry voice as mere offence. You’re causing pain to people who’ve experienced if: pain of having to live with the experience; of knowing people may not believe you; that your attacker may never face justice; that you might even be blamed for wearing the wrong clothes, drinking too much, or not saying ‘no’ loudly enough.

Not just that, but you’re mocking people while fuelling the attitudes that contribute to the prevalence of victim blaming and poor conviction rates and, ultimately, rape.

The upshot of all this is that it has forced the issue into public discourse. This is a particularly heinous example of sexual violence being used to sell a product, but it’s by no means a localised issue. Student club nights regularly rely on the objectification of women to sell tickets, and rape jokes are not uncommon in halls. So the fact people are talking about it is a really positive thing. Hopefully it will send a message to other promoters to be cautious about the level of misogyny in their advertising.

LS has launched a petition calling for Mezz to stop hosting Tequila, which over 1,800 people have signed so far. I’d encourage you to sign it. Despite Tequila recognising that a lot of people have a problem with their general marketing strategy and not just with the video, I’m highly dubious that they’ll make a dramatic change. Equally as important is the message it sends to other clubs and promoters: that misogyny and violence is bad for business. Perhaps then we can see a move away from the possibility of this ever happening again.

Under 25 and underemployed: an open letter to David Cameron

[This is an unusually self-indulgent blog post in the form of a letter that David Cameron will never read, in response to his PM's speech at Tory Party Conference - specifically, what he had to say about unemployment among the under-25s. Call it catharsis. Full speech here.]

David Cameron

Dear David Cameron,

It was difficult to listen to your speech today without taking it personally.

You say yourself that there are still over a million young people not in education, employment, or training. To all intents and purposes, I’m one of them.

Today it is still possible to leave school, sign on, find a flat, start claiming housing benefit and opt for a life on benefits.

It’s time for bold action here.

We should ask, as we write our next manifesto, if that option should really exist at all.

Instead we should give young people a clear, positive choice:

Go to school. Go to college. Do an apprenticeship. Get a job.

But just choose the dole? We’ve got to offer them something better than that.

[...]

So this is what we want to see: everyone under 25 – earning or learning.

You seem to be labouring under the illusion that this is a choice. If you’d like to offer me that choice, then by all means please do. I’d be the first to shake your hand. Earning? Yes please! I’d love to find people to pay me for the work I’m already doing. Learning? I’d love to do an NCTJ to help me into an entry-level job, but that really isn’t an option while I don’t have the means to pay for it.

So you can threaten to cut benefits for under-25s if they choose not to work all you want, but for some of us, it’s not a choice. I feel like I’m giving you the benefit of the doubt here – I don’t think you’re a liar. I believe you have conviction. I believe you believe what you’re saying.

But that doesn’t mean I’m not fully aware of how adept you are at spin. And here’s the sinister part – the way you’ve decided to put young people down to absolve yourself of responsibility.

In your speech, you don’t mention me. You don’t mention the graduates, the unpaid interns, the zero-hours contractors and the ones who take short-term work where they can find it.

I’m all of the above. I work part time when shifts are available and freelance when I find an editor that will pay me. When I can’t, I write for free to build up my portfolio in the hope that I’ll prove to employers that I’m serious and qualified. I apply to jobs and take the Megabus to interviews. I don’t think any of these things are particularly noble; but for many of us, they’re necessary. It’s become the norm to expect to wait up to a year for your first graduate job, while the meantime is filled with cover letters and temp agencies, or internships and multiple part-time jobs.

And you think we wouldn’t rather be working?

The worst of this is that in some ways I agree with you – I do think we should make an effort to work.

It’s precisely for that reason that I didn’t take a part-time job during university, opting instead to spend all my time in student media and take the odd week of temp work. I kept up a part-time job for a while, but it was the first thing to go midway through final year – I figured if I did everything I could to make myself employable, it’d pay off in the end as I was more likely to find a job after graduation. I applied to graduate jobs. I even stood in the university elections for a sabbatical role.

So I won’t have you tell me I’m not willing to work hard. During that year I worked so hard I made myself ill and unhappy, and I’m amazed I came out with a good degree.

It’s easy to sound like a martyr here – I’m not. I put myself through hell largely because of my own stubbornness and stupidity; and to reiterate, I really don’t suffer under the illusion that any of this is noble. Please don’t think I think a non-journalism role is beneath me. But I won’t be erased or told I’m a shirker.

The fact that you don’t seem to grasp this seems to me to demonstrate an extraordinary lack of empathy; but the really insulting part is that anyone who listened to your speech earlier might come away with the impression that people like me don’t exist. All you talk about is lazy school leavers. You don’t talk about unemployed graduates, or school leavers who don’t know their options because they’ve been let down by poor careers advice, or people who’ve already been made redundant in their teens.

Instead, you mention only the unattractive minority, so that people can nod in wise agreement and conclude that the youth of today don’t know they’re born. How there wasn’t a choice in their day – you had to work, or starve.

Was that better? I thought that was what the welfare state was for – to allow people to survive when they had no other option. I’m incredibly lucky in that I have encouraging and generous parents who are willing and able to let me stay at home rent-free, but not everybody is. And while we’re on the topic:

Think about it: with your children, would you dream of just leaving them to their own devices, not getting a job, not training, nothing? No – you’d nag and push and guide and do anything to get them on their way. and so must we.

This might be lacquered with false empathy, but your underlying message is quite clear: you wouldn’t let your child continue not ‘earning or learning’, because that would be a shameful thing to do. You can keep your concern trolling to yourself, thanks. My parents were so proud when I landed my first paid writing job – I’m fairly sure my dad told everyone in the office. But I don’t think  they were any more proud of me than they had been when I became an editor on my student newspaper, or the first time I was published, unpaid, in a national. If you’d like to tell them to stop, that they should be ashamed of me, and that they should be berating me instead, I invite you to try.

And as for “leaving us to our own devices”: by this, I presume you mean prancing around council houses marvelling at our lack of responsibility, or drinking White Lightening in a parking lot, or whatever other lazy stereotype you can come up with. I know the word of the moment for you is ‘hardworking’*. I also know that you must have no imagination, because you don’t seem to be able to conceive of any sort of effort that would qualify someone for any other category than ‘hardworking’ or ‘lazy’. In your speech, and everywhere else, you equate ‘hardworking’ with ‘earning money’. You don’t recognise that someone could work hard and not be paid for it – which would be a perfectly reasonable assumption if you were naive enough to think that thousands of companies have replaced salaried workers with unpaid interns and you weren’t Prime Minister of Great Britain.

Something your government is failing to regulate, by the way.

And what about the other kinds of hard work? What about full-time carers, whom you give just £59.75 a week live on? What about the people for whom, thanks to disability or poor physical or mental health, just staying alive is incredibly hard work? What about the single parents who forgo meals when admin errors at the DWP mean their rent isn’t paid?

I’ll leave those topics to the people in the links above who write eloquently and movingly from their experience.

So, why would you deliberately mention only school-leavers who won’t work, if not to deny all responsibility you have for unemployment figures?

By blaming us for our own joblessness, you’re conveniently deflecting the responsibility away from yourself and the government. But that doesn’t change the fact that the threat of cutting benefits to under-25s who refuse work is a gimmick that fails to tackle the issue of unemployment. There aren’t enough jobs; and competition is especially tough when older, more experienced people are forced to take lower-level jobs. With an excess of candidates, employers are free to ask for one, two or more years’ experience for where previously jobs might go to graduates – and why wouldn’t they?

We don’t patronise people, put a benefit cheque in their hand and pat them on the head. We look people in the eye as equals and say: yes, you’ve been down – but you’re not out. You can do it, you have it in you, we will give you that chance.

You know what, Cameron? That is patronising. It’s patronising to pat me on the head and tell me I can do it, while you blame me for not working hard enough instead of pushing policies that create jobs. And it’s unkind. To treat young people as scapegoats in order to excuse high youth unemployment is irresponsible and cruel.

And, yes, it’s personal. It’s disillusioning enough to work hard to make yourself employable, only to find yourself unemployed after university. We don’t need you kicking us for it. We’ve really had enough of your government’s thinly-veiled contempt for us.

Yours,

Beckie Smith

*It should be two, by the way.

Straight Pride UK update: official statement

An update on the Straight Pride UK situation – as well as changing their Twitter handle to @PrideofStraight and making their tweets protected, they’ve now responded with a statement on their Facebook page. It speaks for itself, but there are a couple of things I wanted to mention:

- There’s no one specific qualification that makes you a journalist (Though you can see where Scroobius Pip was coming from when he said thou shalt not think that having a blog makes you a journalist). There’s the NCTJ and journalism degrees, but you don’t have to have either of those to work in journalism.

- The text from the original interview that Oliver Hotham published was marked ‘press release’. He made it clear the interview was for an article and at no point claimed the interaction was off the record.

Straight Pride (UK) Statement

A Straight Pride Project (Straight Pride (UK) ) over in the UK has been facing a tough time in the last 24 hours, all thanks to a history student called Oliver. https://twitter.com/OliverHotham. He contacted Straight Pride’s (UK) Bureau pretending too be a journalist asking questions. Turns out that he is not a journalist but a seemingly underhanded follower of the Homosexual Agenda who like to call people bigots for not agreeing with what they see as homosexual perversion. They have a right to these views and opinions.

Oliver was very bad didn’t tell Straight Pride (UK) that he would be putting what Straight Pride (UK) told him online for all to see, ( It was a private release for him) and thus he did do Straight Pride (UK) contacted the blog hosts and was removed.

Now Oliver has been very naughty and given out the material so other offending individuals have posted it, in turn causing a a great deal of illegal Harassment, and unwanted contact, which is protected by law Under The Protection From Harassment Act in the United Kingdom.

Straight Pride (UK) did ask him nicely to ask those he has provided the content to, to remove it, but so far both he and the other offenders have not.

Straight Pride (UK) are not as worried as the other individuals who have been harassed, scared, stalked, had bomb threats, but Straight Pride UK are taking action and precautions because this is not right. One person should not be able to start a harassment campaign against something or someone because they don’t agree with their views.

Straight Pride (UK) do have this matter in hand and all will be sorted shortly where the project can get back to Promoting being Heterosexual. If nothing this has proved that society needs Straight Pride and heterosexual events, to enable heterosexuals to have the right to speak out against the alternative lifestyle.

Straight Pride (UK) and other Bureaus are not homophobic, and believe in traditional values and lifestyles and the right to speak as someone finds. Straight Pride UK do not believe in Unequal Rights, of which in the United Kingdom now has. There are two separate sets of rights, once for heterosexuals and one for homosexuals, with the homosexuals rights having the ability to trump those rights and beliefs of the heterosexuals, and those of faith.

Straight Pride (UK) ask heterosexuals from far and wide to gather together and stand up and be counted in this now overly politically correct world everyone finds themselves in.

In finishing, to Oliver you have had your fifteen minutes of fame, perhaps now is the time to get back to your homework or maybe by now you will have been offered a position by the UK Socialist Press.

Peter Sidorove

Head of Operations
Straight Forward Bureau, Moscow.