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.

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.
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Oliver Hotham censored by Straight Pride UK [repost]

This is a repost (with permission) in full of Oliver Hotham‘s blog posts ‘It’s great when you’re straight… yeah’ and ‘The sordid tale of how I was censored by Straight Pride UK’.

If you’ve had not the good fortune not to have heard of Straight Pride UK, they’re a ‘heterosexual rights’ campaign group who whine about being oppressed by the promotion of LGBT rights.

I’m reposting because I think the more people know that Straight Pride UK are a dangerous, nasty group whose bigotry extends to calling the Equal Marriage bill the “fake marriage law” and supporting the anti-LGBT laws in Russia, the better.
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Naked Amanda Palmer 1, Daily Mail 0

Last Friday at the Roundhouse in London, Amanda Palmer (otherwise known as Amanda Fucking Palmer) delivered an open letter to the Daily Mail in the form of a song. ‘Dear Daily Mail’ was a response to an article (and I use that term loosely) about her performance at Glastonbury festival, during which her breast “escaped” from her bra. It goes like this:

I think it’s brilliant. It’s scathing and gleeful and brilliantly witty, and denies the Daily Mail any power over Palmer or her sense of self worth.
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Steubenville, CNN and the language of rape

Steubenville rape case rally - Anonymous

Last week I wrote a piece about Steubenville, victim blaming and rape culture for Indy Voices. I thought I’d cross-post since it’s likely to appeal to this blog’s audience:

‘Who is to blame for sexual assault?’ The language of rape

It’s a seemingly very simple question – and yet it generates heated debate any time rape hits the news.

When a guru claimed that an Indian student was partially responsible for being raped and murdered, his comments were reviled as backward and repulsive; no doubt there will be a similar reaction to police telling a Swiss tourist who was gang raped in India that she must bear some responsibilityfor the attack. Yet however strong the backlash, these opinions are pervasive – not just in India, but also in the West. In every high-profile rape case, there seem to be a crowd of people rushing to find anyone to blame but the perpetrator, be it the victim or society at large.

Who suffers as the result of sexual assault? A slightly less simple question, whose answer is even more widely contested than that of the first. The victim? The community? The attackers?

Over the last few months, the name of a small town in Ohio has become synonymous with a rape case which gained infamy after video footage of the incident was distributed online. Trent Mays and Ma’lik Richmond, two teenage football players from Steubenville, were convicted on Sunday of raping a 16-year-old girl at a series of parties in August. The case has been steeped in controversy since it began, and the trial and its outcome have been the subject of international scrutiny…

Read the whole thing here.

Image: marsmet523 on Flickr.

Reeva Steenkamp: The Oscar Pistorius story

In just over a week since the shooting of Reeva Steenkamp, a change.org petition demanding an apology from the Sun for their coverage has gathered well over 5,000 signatures.

The tabloid’s now-infamous front page was adorned with a full-length photo of Steenkamp, the victim of a fatal shooting, clad in a bikini and posing seductively for the camera. Emblazoned on the cover next to her were the words “3 shots. Screams. Silence.”; underneath, a cut-out of her famous boyfriend, who was later arrested on suspicion of killing her.
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