Fascist Britain?

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An anti-immigration protest by the English Defence League (The Guardian)

The newspapers have readily reported that Britain’s economy has sunk into the longest depression for 100 years, claiming the slump is worse than the Great Depression. Regular publications are produced by NIESR which also suggest that Europe’s recovery is already behind where it was in the 1930s during the Great Depression. Indeed, NIESR’s latest quarterly forecast (published 5th February 2013), projects growth of 0.7 per cent per annum this year and 1.5 per cent in 2014.

Following the 2008 global financial crisis, British Labour MP, Ed Balls, stated in 2009 that he feared the economic crisis could spark a resurgence in the Far Right politics of the 1930s and the rise of fascism. His warning initially came after a trade union baron warned that Far Right parties were trying to misinterpret and hijack the slogan “British jobs for British workers” – A poorly worded phrase coined by Gordon Brown during his first speech as leader to the Labour Conference in 2007, intended to express Gordon Brown’s vision of getting British people lacking basic skills, or the long-term unemployed, back into the British employment market.

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The British Jobs phrase from Gordon Brown’s speech is regularly off-quoted by Nationalist movements.

Today, the row over foreign workers continues to gather momentum, with the implication that the in-coming Romanians and Bulgarians are ill-educated benefit tourists, and reports of the UK Government’s negative ad campaign in an attempt to deter Romanians and Bulgarians from moving to Britain.

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Tongue-in-cheek Anti-Britain ad campaigns published in The Guardian

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A witty ‘Why don`t you come over?’ ad campaign was designed by the online Romanian newspaper,Gandul , in response to numerous reports in the British media about the government initiative to launch a negative ad campaign discouraging Romanians and Bulgarians from coming to work in Britain.

We have also witnessed escalating Euroscepticism (discussed in my previous blog post); the rise of the UK Independence Party, and increasing British nationalism has seen the British National Party (BNP) celebrating their first ever secured European Parliament seats for leader Nick Griffin and Andrew Brons in 2009. This was the same year that saw the formation the extreme Far-Right group, North West Infidels, and an Islamophobic Far-Right street protest movement – the English Defence League, who exploit concerns about sex-grooming gangs to fuel its anti-Islam agenda and forge networks with far-right groups across Europe. Last year saw the perturbing revival of the National Front, whilst yet another Nationalist party, calling themselves The British Democratic Party, has recently arisen out of the rubble of the BNP. A further indication that we should not get too complacent is the result of a Searchlight poll, conducted last February, which revealed that a staggeringly high number of voters stated they would be prepared to vote for party of the Far-Right, if it renounced violence.

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Recent Daily Express headlines

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The question is whether Ed Balls was right in suggesting we may be heading towards a return to the fascist Far-Right politics that prospered in the Great Depression of the 1930s?

There are, admittedly, some parallels, and one thing history has revealed is that the Right thrives on economic crisis.

During the Great Depression of the 1930s, Britain saw the Labour Party almost wiped out, with Labour winning only 52 seats in the 1931 election, allowing the Conservatives to rule with a formidable majority. The situation was even bleaker in the rest of Europe as fascism annihilated democracy and the Left. Italy fell first, with Leftists languishing in Fascist jails from the 1920s. Germany’s labour movement was the strongest in the world, but Nazism shut it down virtually overnight and was upping the persecution of the Jews. A military uprising against Spain’s reformist government in 1936 plunged the country into a nightmare Civil War that ended in the slaughter of hundreds of thousands of Leftists and the victory of Far-Right dictator General Francisco Franco. The only glimmer of hope for the Left was France’s Popular Front, a coalition of Socialists, Communists and Radicals. Alas, it was an unwieldy government that lasted only two years, and the right were growing ever more aggressive and militant.

The majority of British people like to think that we are above that sort of thing, and like to believe fascism is more exclusive to “excitable foreigners”, who they seem to believe enjoy wearing uniforms. However, it is worth considering that parliamentary democracy was once believed to have been secure in most of the Western world in the 1920s, yet it collapsed quickly enough once the Slump came. Even emphatically anti-fascist Britain adopted its own version of a corporatist state, forming a national government in which almost all the parties were in power, and vastly extended state control with the Public Order Act which came into force 1st January 1937. Britain also saw Oswald Mosley’s Blackshirts, supported by the likes of the Daily Mail, loudly agitating for a fascist government on the European model. If one was a true Democrat in 1937, there was most certainly a cause for concern, given the lack of hindsight and far right’s complacency of the atrocities occurring in Europe.

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A 1933 printed poster advertising four meetings of the British Union of Fascists (Library of Museum of London)

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The British Union of Fascists

Even during the other major economic crisis seen during the 1970s, when the ‘oil shock‘ of 1973 signalled the end of the ‘Golden Age of Capitalism’, both Left and Right abandoned the post-war consensus in favour of a renewed radicalism. Like with the period prior to the more recent 2010 election, it was unclear which side would win for a while, and indeed for long periods prior to the economic downturn, it appeared the Left was in the ascendancy. The historically unprecedented post-war boom came to an abrupt end, leading to a period of poor economic growth and rampant levels of inflation. Again, the economy had stagnated, but the New Right saw a surge in prosperity with politics beginning to swing to the Right across Europe, first with British Thatcherism. This was soon followed by American Reaganism. Thatcher was so successful in 1979 that even by the time she was succeeded by John Major, the traditional Left had been all but vanquished as a political force. This time round, there appears to be no real alternative for the Right to defeat, as the Left has never really recovered from being virtually smothered out of existence. It has been victim to the rise of the New Right, neo-liberal globalization, and the repeated defeats suffered by the trade union movement.

Above all, it can be argued that it was the aftermath of the collapse of Communism that has seen the subsidence of the Left. As US neo-conservative Midge Decter once stated: “It’s time to say: We’ve won. Goodbye.” From the British Labour Party to the African National Congress, Left-wing movements across the world have shifted their policies to the Right in an almost synchronised fashion, and although we now live in an age of revolt, there still remains no true Left to give it direction and purpose. Even in the “Left-wing” governed US, Obama may have been elected US President, but a newly resurgent Right lead by the Tea Party has seized the House of Representatives and is clearly setting the political agenda. As the Economist has boasted, the Left has been smashed across Europe, and indeed, the British National Party won its first seats in the European parliament not because its supporters are all racist, but because many voters feel insecure and let down by the main parties. The British National Party now use such views to their advantage to rally support, thus playing on the claim that their Far-Right party is “a socialist party… and probably the closest thing to old Labour”, at a time when there is no true Left to provide Britain with direction.

The recent rise of the UKIP could also be an issue for concern, particularly as recent ComRes polls have placed the UKIP in 3rd position, ahead of the Liberal Democrats.

Whilst a benign view of the UKIP by many might be that they are simply small-nation nationalists standing up against an oppressive suzerainty, and are not a fascist party; a darker perspective might be that some UKIP supporters have a more deep-seated antagonism to our current constitutional settlement, one they share with a quiescent sector of our society, that might develop into a poisonous xenophobia.

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A UKIP anti-immigration poster

Indeed, data from a study by Matthew Goodwin, Robert Ford, and David Cutts has revealed that intolerant views were somewhat more common among UKIP supporters than any of the three mainstream parties. However, while only a minority of UKIP supporters were found to be racist, the majority are not, and the UKIP were found to hold fewer intolerant views than the BNP. Yet, UKIP supporters were more likely to support a complete ban on immigration, to support government efforts to deport immigrants, in addition to being less tolerant of Muslims, and less tolerant of homosexuals. Recent statements by a UKIP candidate for parliament has described gay adoption as a form of child abuse, and the survey revealed 41% of UKIP supporters opposed civil partnerships, which is higher than all the mainstream parties and nearly twice the sample average. The study also found that all parties of the Far Right are also more likely to falsely attribute negative behaviour to immigrants as a group; holding them responsible for ‘most crime’ and agreeing with the view that they ‘jump the queue for council housing’; and UKIP supporters were more likely to agree that ‘Islam poses a serious danger to Western civilization’ and a report by Matthew Goodwin and Jocelyn Evans has revealed that 84% were bothered by the construction of a mosque in their neighbourhood. Furthermore, 4 in 10 UKIP supporters are unwilling to put up with its existence, or to offer legal recognition to a group with different views or behaviour from their own.

If we compare the 2012 London Manifestos:

UKIP on immigration:

  • Create more jobs for Londoners by saying ‘No’ to open-door immigration.
  • Priority for Londoners – whatever their ethnic origin – for jobs and housing, over migrants and asylum seekers.
  • Until the Government gets a grip on our borders, put a cap on the number of immigrants allowed to settle in London.

BNP on immigration:

  • London is already overcrowded. We will NOT give amnesty to illegal immigrants.
  • All the other political parties will let in more – we’ll shut the door!
  • While immigration policy is determined primarily by the EU (a key reason for our opposition to Britain’s membership) and central government, we will take all measures within the Mayor’s power to protect and advance the interests of indigenous Londoners and members of legally settled minorities who contribute to the common good.

Both parties use the same door open/shut metaphor in reference to to immigration, and both refer to prioritising Londoners. BNP emphasise that ethnic minorities, who are legally settled, will be included in their ‘shut the door’ policy, while the UKIP specifically refers to migrants and asylum seekers. Note that the UKIP do not refer to whether their policy includes migrants who are legal or not, nor the status of an asylum claim. Both state on their websites that they will deport all illegal immigrants.

In a 2010 document titled ‘Restoring Britishness‘, the UKIP refers to combating the Islamisation of Britain, which is also a key BNP concern:

‘Multiculturalism is another tenet of the politically correct class and has been just as toxic to Britain. In simplified form, it is broadly the belief that people from different ethno-religious and ethno-linguistic backgrounds can live together in the same society and that the state is legally obliged to respect all of their cultural mores. The notion that there is, or that there should be, a common unifying culture is denounced as ‘exclusionary’, and calls to integrate are typically met with accusations that the state is issuing ultimatums to ethnic and religious minorities. UkIP fundamentally disagrees.

Ukip will end multiculturalism and promote an all-embracing uniculturalism, one which demands integration, assimilation and a commitment to British values for all UK citizens.’

The UKIP clearly state their opposition of multiculturalism, and this would suggest they oppose ‘the belief that people from different ethno-religious and ethno-linguistic backgrounds can live together in the same society.’ There are constant references to a Marxist influence in British politics, particularly in using Ed and David Miliband’s “Trotskyite” father Ralph as an example.

The BNP have their roots in far more extreme origins through its founder, John Tyndall, and his involvement with the affirmably fascist National Socialist Movement and League of Empire Loyalists. Their members have been involved in far more extreme acts of outright violence such as the notorious nailbombs attacks by David Copeland.

Yet, both the UKIP and BNP advertise themselves specifically as “non-racist”. If both parties need to constantly refer to their lack of racism in their campaign material, perhaps they have something of a guilty conscience?

Should we be worried?

As I revealed in a previous post, it is clear that David Cameron is being swayed into a somewhat fascist direction by the increase in UKIP popularity, and the increase in Eurosceptism in Britain. In addition to David Cameron’s xenophobic speech, there is increasing pressure from Conservative backbenchers to find ways to deter Romanians and Bulgarians from moving to Britain.

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Look at the early signs: demands for protectionism; “British jobs for British workers”; blatant xenophobia; the scapegoating of capitalists; nationalisation; the surge in state spending; the contempt for parliamentarians. Is Britain really immune from fascism?

To get the issue into perspective, the BNP have been around for a long time, yet have never managed to make a serious breakthrough. Intolerant views towards immigrants and ethnic minorities is clearly an issue in Britain, but the UKIP votes are more likely to be protest votes during a time of increasing dissatisfaction with the coalition government. With such a loss of public confidence in parliament, growing nationalism and alarm at terrorism, this is a time when one might have expected votes to flow to the BNP. History has revealed that a loss of confidence in parliamentary institutions is characteristic of a time that fascists have come to power, and whilst the election of two BNP MEPs is a very depressing development, the BNP are not doing especially well. Whilst the UKIP are currently ahead of the Liberal Democrats in ComRes Polls, and came 2nd in the Eastleigh By-election, recent opinion polls place Labour in the lead.

We should also be concerned about what is occurring across Europe, where Right-wing populism is on the rise – The Eurozone crisis has seen emergence of the neo-nazi movement, Greece’s Golden Dawn; neo-fascists in France and Hungary making electoral gains; the continued success of anti-Muslim parties in Holland and Belgium; “nativist” movements such as Finland’s True Finns, not to mention the conspiracy theories cited by the Norwegian mass murderer Anders Behring Breivik.

Societies that preside over massive inequalities of wealth, but also promises its people democracy, equality and freedom, are breeding grounds for resentment. Wherever such resentments exist, the Far Right will try to exploit them to gain political support. Today the Far Right use Islamophobia and the hatred of migrants, because it already exists in our society, just as the Nazis played upon antisemitism, because it already existed in German society.

However, the fascism of the 1920s and 30s was a revolutionary movement asserting a violent imperialism and promising a new social order. By contrast, today’s Far-Right parties are solely based on fear of immigration, fear of aliens, fear of being Europeanised. They have no real political agenda, no vision of a new social order, nor can they legally campaign for the replacement of a democratic government by an authoritarian regime. The fear and hatred they incite, may lead to public furore, but I do not believe it will play a part in politics to the extent that we will see a Far-Right party elected into the British Government any time soon.

Nevertheless, we should still remain cautious. Presenting the Human Rights Convention to the Assembly in 1949, Schuman’s colleague, French lawyer, Pierre-Henri Teitgen, said:

An honest man does not become a gangster in 24 hours. Infection takes time. In thought and in conscience, he has to let himself be drawn into temptation. He gets used to the fault before he commits it. He descends the stairwell step by step. One day, he finds evil has beaten him and he has lost all scruples. Democracies do not become Nazi countries overnight. Evil progresses in an underhand way, with a minority operating to seize what amounts to the levers of power. One by one, freedoms are suppressed, in one sphere then another. Public opinion is smothered, the worldwide conscience is dulled and the national conscience asphyxiated. And then, when everything fits in place, the Führer is installed and this evolution continues right on to the deadly gas ovens of the crematorium.’

 

stop fascism

If you really do love Britain, stop the fascists, the racists, the xenophobes, and the homophobes, etc.

Anti-Fascism merchandise is available to buy here

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No Shave November

According to Cancer Research UK, men are in general, at a significantly greater risk than women from nearly all of the common cancers that occur in both genders, with the exception of breast cancer.

The joint report, The Excess Burden of Cancer in Men in the UK (2009), published by National Cancer Intelligence Network, Cancer Research UK, Leeds Metropolitan University and Men’s Health Forum 2009), reveals that when rate ratios were calculated by excluding breast cancer, and cancers which are unique to either men or women only, 60% more men in the 15–64 year age range are dying from cancers that should be affecting men and women equally. Thus, a greater effect seems to be predominately because the cancer deaths that occur in younger women are those related to the breast and genital organs (37.1% overall of cancer deaths in those aged 15–64; and around 50% in the 35–44 years age group). From the rate ratios of male to female deaths it is evident that there is a significantly higher rate of death for men over all ages. This ratio is lower in the 15–64 age range but rises substantially over the age of 65 years.

The mortality rate for lung cancer is substantially higher in men than women due to differing smoking patterns over the previous 60 years, despite there being more men who have reportedly given up smoking, relative to the number of females smokers. When rate ratios are calculated after excluding lung cancer to examine the influence on the burden of cancer in the two sexes after excluding the major cancer caused by smoking, then the ratio for all ages drops slightly to 1.31, with corresponding falls to 0.98 for 15-64 year olds and 1.51 for those aged 65 and over. This could suggest that younger males also have higher overall cancer mortality because of their excess rate of lung cancer.

There has also been a rapid increase in the incidence of prostate cancer, with rates rising from 32.5 per 100,000 in 1975 to 97.2 per 100,000 in 2006 in Great Britain. Although statistics by Cancer Research reveal that more women averagely die of breast cancer, than men of prostate cancer, there are fewer campaigns targeted at men and the importance of early detection. Prostate cancer mortality combined with the male mortality rates for common non-gender specific cancers, means that more awareness campaigns are necessary for male cancer.

It is interesting that despite September being Prostate Cancer month, blue ribbons and blue coloured merchandise did not engulf the country in any manner similar to the flurry of pink ribbons that emerged in the subsequent month of October. Perhaps it is no coincidence that November has now become a month for male cancer fundraising, with the “Movember” challenge.

“Movember”, a portmanteau of the word “mo” (from moustache) and “November”, is an event involving the growing of moustaches during the entire month of November, to raise awareness and raise funds for more effective detection, diagnosis, treatments, and to reduce the number of preventable deaths from male cancers. The Movember Foundation has run Movember events since 2004 in Australia and New Zealand, and since 2007 in Ireland, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, Spain, the United Kingdom, Israel, South Africa, Taiwan and the United States. The foundation’s goal being to “change the face of men’s health.”

As I believe in equality and, therefore, believe that male cancer deserves the same attention and awareness as that generated by female cancer campaigns, such as the ‘Pink Ribbon Campaign’ and ‘Race for Life’, I would join in with the moustache growing… If I had enough facial hair to grow one! Therefore, I have instead decided to join in by going razor and wax-free with regards legs, arms, and…etc! My fundraising page can be found HERE.

No doubt many will turn their noses up at my challenge, and I must admit that I will find it difficult to walk around unshaven. On the continent, many women are reported to grow their body hair, but it is very much a faux pas in Britain. Women whose body hair falls outside aesthetic standards may experience social acceptance problems. The exposure of body hair on women other than head hair, eyelashes and eyebrows, is generally considered to be unaesthetic, unladylike, undesirable and embarrassing. People will usually point and laugh at a “hairy lady”, just like Julia Roberts caused a stir at the film premiere of Notting Hill, when she raised her arm and revealed a hairy armpit.

Julia Roberts at the premiere of ‘Notting Hill’ in 1999.

Yet, it would appear that in casting aside the razor, she is in good company. Drew Barrymore, Elizabeth Jagger, even fashionista, Trinny Woodall, have all had a hairy moment:

Elizabeth Jagger


Drew Barrymore


Fashionista, Trinny Woodall


Beyonce Knowles


Anne Robinson is the “weakest link” after all!


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Even the ever-so-sophisticated Sophia Loren has been known to fashion a bush!

Women participating in the “No Shave Novemeber” challenge have also been causing some revolt on Twitter.

I confess to also finding body hair most unsightly. But, is that really my own opinion, or is it one that has been indoctrinated into all of us all by society? Hair removal has, after all, been an integral part of grooming since prehistoric times, when men used flint to remove unwanted hair as early as 30,000 B.C, and historical accounts of women’s hair removal have been linked to ancient Greece, the Trobriand Islands, Uganda, South America and Turkey. The rise of hair removal can certainly be closely linked with fashion – as most of society’s ideals are. In ancient cultures, the absence of body hair often indicated class. Only the lower classes let their hair grow. In the Middle Ages, women even removed all of their hair, including the hair on their head, in the name of fashion. The first commercial for a female hair removal product was in 1915 when Harpers Bazaar printed an advert which showed a woman in a sleeveless evening gown which exposed her perfectly shaven armpits.

In the 1970s, feminists put their razors aside as a form of political statement, but today even women who object on principle, are still under pressure to remove body hair. Merran Toerien, who has researched gender and body hair, believes that bodies are seen as needing disciplining into an ideal:

“Hair is seen as masculine…Historically, medically and in the media, it is nearly always associated with men. Shaving female body hair is seen as a way to differentiate between the sexes.”

Women with body hair are even perceived by men and women to be more aggressive and immoral, according to a study by US psychologist Dr Susan Basow, who asserts that non-hairy women are generally seen in a positive light. Indeed, a UK study found that 99% of modern day women removed some hair, most commonly from the underarms, legs, pubic area and eyebrows. Shaving and plucking being the most common removal methods.

Professor Stevi Jackson, Director of the Centre for Women’s Studies at York University stated:

“Over the years body hair on women has been viewed more and more as a monstrosity and dealing with it has become more and more draconian,” she says. “It is about conforming to standard and if you don’t you are viewed as unattractive and ungroomed… It is not about being seen as beautiful; it is about conforming, not standing out.”

The removal of female body hair has become such a social requirement that little 12 year old girls are being subjected to a Brazilian wax, as this anonymous article titled “The Bare Truth”, published in the Economist reveals:

“An Irish beautician called Genevieve is explaining what a ‘Brazilian’ is a she practices the art on your correspondent. … Between each excruciating rip, she explains that she is going to remove nearly all my pubic hair, except for a narrow vertical strip of hairs the width of a couple of fingers. This is known colloquially as the ‘landing strip.’ … In only a few years, this form of waxing has gone from the esoteric to the everyday and is starting to rival the ordinary bikini wax in popularity. At the same time the bikini wax is becoming a normal procedure for women of all ages: the youngest person Genevieve has waxed is a 12-year-old girl”

It is socially acceptable for men walk around with beards, hairy chests, backs, legs, etc., and is even considered an expression of manliness. Ironically, if a man shaves his legs (which may be required for a sport such as rugby or swimming), he will often be ridiculed. In fact, thick hair is associated with strength and masculinity, and so much so, we often find many men going to great lengths to prevent male pattern baldness on their heads. Femininity demands a hair-free body, and a hairy woman is not considered sexually attractive, whilst body hair on men is associated with masculine virility. Whilst I accept the physical differences between men and women on a biological level, society’s dictation of body hair is surely yet another example of ironic hypocrisy, which affects both genders.

When society faces a serious health issue such as cancer – a cruel disease that takes so many lives away from us on a daily basis, surely this is a time to set aside such social and cultural expectations. If ditching the razor and wax strips for a month, and joining the Movember campaign is a social faux pas, then so be it. I like to think I have the strength of character to stand up to what is, essentially, a rather pointless social ideal, in order to raise much needed money for cancer research – an important cause that might help save lives.

It would be nice to see other women who are also brave enough to “stand by her man”, and ditch the razor for a month (or at least sponsor my endeavour), instead of trying to adhere to narrow-minded social norms. It is, after all, for a good cause. I would also like to to remind all the chaps out there: Please remember to have an annual health check up, and a PSA Test if you are over 40. Furthermore, young men should regularly check their testes for any abnormalities, as testicular cancer is most common in young men.

Please remember to donate to my “No Shave November” page at Cancer Research UK. It does not matter if you can only donate as little as £1, for as long as everyone donates something, all the small donations will add up to something bigger. Although it is a UK cancer charity, with which readers from other parts of the world may not feel is relevant to them, one must remember that as long as money is donated to cancer research, it is irrelevant as to where in the world the money is donated for research. What is most important is that valuable research can be conducted, to ensure a cure is ultimately found, instead of focusing upon where in the world the cure was found.

Please donate. Thank you.

Please Mind The Gap!

No, I’m not posting about the London Underground on this occasion.

I am instead referring to the wage gap between men and women, which continues to make headline news.

Just the other day, the International Business Times reported that the U.S. Census Bureau found no progress had  been made to close the gender wage gap in the United States. It reported that womens’ wages have continued to hover at an average of 77 cents for every dollar earned by a man in an equal position, since 2005. This is despite Obama passing the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, shortly after taking office in 2009. Whilst the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act may be relatively new in the US, legislation to ensure equal pay has been in place in the Britain for 40 years. Despite this long established legislation, the gender pay gap not only still exists in Britain, but the discrepancy remains among the highest in the EU.

In Britain the full-time gender pay gap between women and men is reported to be 14.9%.  The Fawcett Society report that the pay gap varies across different sectors and regions, rising to up to 55% in the finance sector, and 33.3% in the City of London, with 64% of the lowest paid workers being women. Progress in closing the gap has been slow, and now there are concerns that the wage gap may now widen, as the economy faces difficult times. The US has already seen the wage gap widen: the median income for women working with full-time jobs in 2011 was $37,118, compared to the median of $48,202 for men. In 2010, women averagely earned $38,052 compared with the average male earnings of $48,202.

The poverty rate for women is reported to be considerably higher, particularly among the elderly. The US Census Bureau reports 15.5% of women between the ages of 18 and 64 were living off less that $11,170 per year, meaning that 15.5% of women are officially living in poverty in the US. This is compared with just 11.8 percent of men. 10.7% of women over 65 were living in poverty last year, compared with 6.2% of men in the same age category.

Such a pay gap inevitably translates into a significant economic disadvantage for women in female-headed households, and especially in is the US where women are already reported to be less likely to have health insurance. In 2010, 20% of women between the ages of 18 and 64 are reported not to have had any form of health coverage, according to The Kaiser Family Foundation. Most did not qualify for Medicaid, and did not have access to employer-sponsored plans. This is all the more worrying when one considers that many female-headed households in the US, are thus also less likely to be able to provide health coverage for their children.

In Britain, nine out of ten single parents are women, yet the median gross weekly pay for male single parents is reportedly £346, while female single parents will averagely receive £194.4. Although Britain has the NHS to rely on for free healthcare, a number of single mothers are still, nevertheless, living poverty, and this inevitably effects their children.

There could be a number of factors influencing the wage gap. Feminist theory has speculated that the differences may be due to the discriminatory undervaluing of women, and “women’s work”, but I doubt this is the case. Even if struggling to find work, very few women will actually choose arduous manual labour over shop-keeping, nor will many women choose manufacturing work over a job in the nursing sector. How often will one see a woman laying bricks or operating a digger, rather than claim benefits or work part-time? Although more women may choose a career in engineering today than they may have in previous eras, it is still a case that relatively few women will actively *choose* such a career over the more traditional female dominated careers such as primary school teaching, nursing or secretarial roles, which are generally lower paid than more male-dominated careers in astronautics and space engineering.

A female JCB driver?

It seems unlikely that the reason behind the gender gap is largely due to sex discrimination, when it is actually the women themselves, who so often select the sector in which they choose to work in. That is not to say that sex discrimination is never a factor, of course, as both women and men could potentially be open to experiencing sex discrimination within the workplace. Indeed, there have been reports of an increase in employment tribunal cases where men have been subject to sex discrimination by their female colleagues. Sex discrimination is not exclusive to women.

There is also the factor of a lack of available flexible work opportunities, which means that single mothers who cannot afford childcare, can find it hard to reconcile paid work with family responsibilities. This might result in women working in part-time positions for fewer hours, or taking on a number of different temporary jobs. The so-called “motherhood penalty” could also arguably lead to discrimination in companies. There have previously been a number of employment tribunal cases revealing how employers have been less likely or refused to hire or promote women of childbearing age, for fear the female employees will prioritise pregnancy and childcare  over their commitments at work. One factor which may heighten the case for this argument is that lesbian women are reported to earn higher than their heterosexual counterparts.

According to the research the site pointed to, lesbians make about 6 percent more than heterosexual women when factors like race, education, profession, location and number of children are accounted for. There are other factors to take into consideration as to why the gap exists between heterosexual and homosexual women. One being that heterosexual women may expect their husbands or partners will earn more than they will. As a result, heterosexual women might choose to make career sacrifices, such as rounding a family, and thus choose to invest less effort in making themselves appear more indispensable to employers.

It may also be that employers and employees of either gender are unaware they may be either experiencing or perpetuating a gender pay gap, and so it remains unnoticed. Perhaps the mere knowledge that a male in a similar role at the same company is being paid more, might be enough to trigger a change. As a result the Fawcett Society has long proposed that businesses employing more than 250 people, should routinely audit, monitor, and publicise any pay gap between male and female employees. The 2010 Equality Act also included a clause, requiring companies to carry out gender pay audits if they failed to make enough voluntary progress. Unfortunately, the Section 78 clause was dropped by the coalition in 2010.

Whilst the Fawcett Society reported that the wage gap is even bigger in certain professions, such as financial management, a similar picture is mirrored in the findings of a recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. The study conducted at University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, found that male doctors reported making an average of slightly over $200,000 per year, whilst women earned about $168,000. However, the study researchers found women were more likely to work in lower-paying specialties such as paediatrics and family medicine. Female doctors also tended to work slightly fewer hours – an average of 58 hours per week, compared to mens’ average of 63 hours. Although such differences were responsible for some of the salary gap, Dr. Reshma Jagsi, the lead author of the new study, found that despite factors due to career and life choices, women still made about $12,000 less than men doing the same type and amount of work.

The finding of the study does not reveal the underlying driving force between the salary differences between men and women. In this instance, perhaps female doctors accepted slightly lower pay in return for less time being on-call to spend time with families.

One significant explanation is that women are less aggressive about negotiating for pay. Indeed, a report by Shuchita Kapur in Emirates 24/7  reveals how experts believe the gender gap to be a result of female unwillingness to negotiate.

The article points to the suggestion that companies will generally present every employee with a low starting offer, and it is usually up to the individual to negotiate any salaries rises. Professor Horacio Falcao who specialises in Negotiation at INSTEAD has suggested that men are much more likely to negotiate pay than women: “Research actually indicates that in many countries around the world, women are more likely to accept the first salary offered than men. This usually results in men entering the company with a higher pay than women and then making more money in the future as raises tend to be percentage increases relative to the base pay.”

The opinion of Grainne Fitzsimons, Associate Professor of Management at Fuqua School of Business, also coincides with Falcao’s, and stated that: “Research suggests that women are less likely to negotiate salary, because women feel uncomfortable in that role and worry about the impression they will make if they ask for more money. In fact, research suggests that this unwillingness to negotiate is extremely costly for women, and leads them to be underpaid in a number of domains,” she told Emirates 24/7.

A research study by Carnegie Mellon University in the US, revealed that while 51.5% of men negotiated their initial offers, only 12% of women did.

So, ladies; perhaps the moral of the story (at least in part) is: If you don’t ask; you don’t get.

More to the point, whilst a job providing the benefits of full-time pay with flexible hours, may be ideal for working mothers, the truth is, we cannot have it all. Nor should any of us expect it. Salaries should be based upon merit, hours of work, and dedication. Until modern medicine discovers a method in which men can give birth and become mothers, women cannot realistically expect the salary statistics to match those of men.

Given the subject of ” Please Mind The Gap”, I decided to include this rather wonderful photo of Hannah Dadds, who made history by becoming the first ever London Underground Tube driver, in 1969. Story can be found here.

The name’s Bond… A Battered Bond.

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Since writing an article about male rape victims and female perpetrators, it has just emerged that Sir Roger Moore has also been a victim of domestic violence. In an interview with Piers Morgan, the 84-year-old actor, Sir Roger Moore, spoke of the violence he experienced at the hands of both of his first two wives.

Despite the well-published statistics on the domestic abuse of women, it is slowly emerging that a significant proportion of men will also experience some form of domestic abuse in their lives. The revelation by Sir Roger Moore reflects how just about anyone could potentially be a victim of domestic abuse. It will be interesting to discover over the coming years, how many other male celebrities will slowly start coming forward, to reveal a few bruised truths that nobody wants to hear: women are not the only victims in society, but are also deviants, capable of untold violence. Hopefully, as more men become brave enough to speak out, any stigma and shame attached to male victimisation, will be banished once and for all.

Sir Roger Moore is by no means the first celebrity male victim. The famous American Western Actor, John Wayne, despite his macho image, was a victim of domestic abuse by his wife Esperanza Baur, a former Mexican actress. In a drunken rage she is reported to have also attempted to shoot him as he walked through the front door of their home, after returning from a post-filming party of the movie Angel and the Badman (1947). Humphrey Bogart was also stabbed in the back with a butcher’s knife by his wife Mayo Methot in 1938. Historians report that Abraham Lincoln was severely beaten and abused by his wife Mary Todd. The one thing these men and many others have in common is that they never spoke about it in public. The late Whitney Houston also admitted that it was she, not Bobby Brown, who was physically violent in their notoriously destructive relationship.

No man should feel ashamed of disclosing the truth. Violence should never be excused or accepted. Hopefully Sir Roger Moore’s story will help to break some of the stigma and shame associated with being a male victim.

The Silent Male Victims of Rape

Whilst researching various sociological topics on Twitter, I was reminded how insensitive and ignorant people can be. This was a re-tweet from a so-called “holy” person. The initial tweet was also by a person who describes himself as “a child of God” in one of his subsequent tweets.

Almost every day, there are reports in the news of rape, or rape convictions. Indeed, recent reports reveal a 53% rise in recorded rape in London over the last four years, and whilst perusing through the Irish news the other day, I also discovered an article that reported on an increase of almost 18% in first-time callers to the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre last year. A few weeks earlier, I had also read about the reported rape of a 14-year-old boy in the toilets of Debenhams in Manchester.

Most women in society are indoctrinated to be cautious of unfamiliar men, and to fear rape. From childhood, females are taught to be afraid of, and to never talk to any ‘strange men’. Women are warned to remain cautious: never be alone, keep all doors locked, and do not behave in a manner that may encourage a sexual assault. However, living in a patriarchal society, how often do we hear of such guidance provided for males?

Males, by contrast, are brought up from a young age to be “strong”, masculine, and “in-charge”; and indeed, feminists use our expectations and perception of what a male should be, to base many of their misandrical arguments, using their infamous male-female rape theories. Society so often perceives men as being the perpetrators, whilst women are the victims. Consider the following examples of despicable feminist misandrical misnomers:

“All sex, even consensual sex between a married couple, is an act of violence perpetrated against a woman.” Catherine MacKinnon

“In a patriarchal society all heterosexual intercourse is rape because women, as a group, are not strong enough to give meaningful consent.” Catherine MacKinnon in Professing Feminism: Cautionary Tales from the Strange World of Women’s Studies, p. 129.

“Most perpetrators are male and most victims are female. It is both a consequence and cause of gender inequality.”UK Rape Crisis Charity

“All men are rapists and that’s all they are” — Marilyn French Author, “The Women’s Room” (a metaphor in a novel to suggest male lust for power and domination.)

Ladies: Bear in mind that if, according to Marylin French, “All men are rapists”, this must mean that your dear baby boys are rapists, as are your fathers, and your grandfathers – and let us not forget your brothers, too! If there is any logic in the above feminist assertions, that must be the reason as to why your baby boys suckle upon your breast when they are breast fed, and why your baby girls must surely need to have your breast forced upon them – right? Furthermore, if such blatant misandric feminist arguments stand any validity, this would suggest that your sons will rape your daughters, and even you. Logic alone should tell us how absurd such statements are, and should surely reveal much about feminist theory.

Yet, with such preconceptions that rape exists only within the context of a male perpetrator – female victim model, very few people will consider how males are also victims of sexual assault. Yet, male-male rape is often shrouded in secrecy due to the social stigma that many men associate with rape, which annihilates everything that our patriarchal society dictates men should be. But, you might find the results of recent research to be quite shocking.

Statistics of Male Rape

The British Crime Survey estimates that up to 15% of the adult population of the UK have been sexually abused in childhood, and this includes 11% of young men. A 2003 national study of U.S. adults reported that 14.2% of men were sexually abused before the age of 18. Furthermore, Metropolitan Police figures reveal that on average, in London, a man is the victim of a sexual crime every hour, and the British government estimates that 11% of male victims report being attacked. Based upon such research, it is believed that the 945 assaults recorded by the Met in 2009-10, actually suggest a true figure closer to 8,500 in London.

Baroness Stern acknowledged in her 2011 rape report, The Stern Review, that the vast majority of male victims of sexual violence do not report their crimes because of the common view that men “should be able to fight off an attacker”. The review recognised that men do not report rape for the fear of being regarded “less of a man”. They fear being ridiculed, fear that they may be considered gay, or fear that they will not believed.

Several studies argue that male-male prisoner rape, as well as female-female prisoner rape, might be the most common and least-reported forms of rape, with some studies suggesting such rapes are substantially more common in both per-capita and raw-number totals than male-female rapes in the general population.

The claim in the following n+1 piece, suggests that more men are victims of rape in the US, than women, as a result of prison rape:

“In January, prodded in part by outrage over a series of articles in the New York Review of Books, the Justice Department finally released an estimate of the prevalence of sexual abuse in penitentiaries. The reliance on filed complaints appeared to understate the problem. For 2008, for example, the government had previously tallied 935 confirmed instances of sexual abuse. After asking around, and performing some calculations, the Justice Department came up with a new number: 216,000. That’s 216,000 victims, not instances. These victims are often assaulted multiple times over the course of the year. The Justice Department now seems to be saying that prison rape accounted for the majority of all rapes committed in the US in 2008, likely making the United States the first country in the history of the world to count more rapes for men than for women.

No doubt, many will sneer at this finding, believing that it is a justified act for “undesirables” who deserve punishment, and need putting in their place. This is perhaps one reason as to why there appears to be so little interest as to the extent of prison rape, and so few reports. With such possible reason in mind, we must not forget about the number of innocent men who are wrongly convicted and imprisoned, and who are subsequently made victims of rape – a crime inflicted on them perhaps, in a cruel twist of irony, as a result of a false rape allegation for which they were wrongly imprisoned. How could such inhumanity ever be considered fair?

Rape as a weapon of terror in warfare

Male rape is also used as a weapon of terror in warfare, and the Syrian regime is regularly reporting that rape is used as a tool of war against male opposition forces, as is the situation in Congo. Feminists and the media regularly report of the horrendous cases of female rape in Congo, but there are very fer reports of the horrific physical and psychological damage suffered by the victims of male rape in Congo. I would highly recommend a read of this article from The Observer.

The Journal of the American Medical Association has reported that 22% of Congolese men (and 30% of women) have experienced sexual violence as a weapon of war. Male victims have also had genitalia amputated, raped with screwdrivers, circumcised, or castrated in cases where they were spared amputation. Yet, under Congolese law, it is the male rape victims who are the ones considered guilty of a crime, and can face severe punishment for the so-called crime of homosexuality. Male survivors will, therefore, almost never speak of their experiences to anyone. Taking this into consideration, the rate of non-reporting amongst male victims is likely to be high, thus, the real statistics of men victim to sexual violence before being killed by their rapists, cannot be accurately determined. The statistic is more than likely greater than 22%, and no charities or agencies providing funding to male victims of rape, to help them get them back on their feet, as there are for female rape victims.

Furthermore, these men will typically hide their experience from their family, due to fears of abandonment. According to an employee of the Refugee Law Project, it is common for a woman to take the children and leave her husband, upon discovering that he has been raped. The view being, “If he can be raped, who is protecting me?” The cruel, ironic, hypocrisy is that despite the patriarchal social view of women needing a “strong, protective man”; women are, in fact, “strong” enough to be the aggressors of male sexual assault.

Female-Male Rape

A study on male rape in Congo published by the Journal of the American Medical Association defies the cultural narrative of patriarchy surrounding male rape in Congo: 40% of sexual violence against women in Congo, and 10% of that against men, was perpetrated by women.

Only a few days ago, the BBC reported that three women in Zimbabwe who were arrested in connection with a series of male rapes, had their rape charges dropped, and were instead charged with 17 counts of aggravated indecent assault – merely because Zimbabwean law does not recognise the act of a woman raping a man. It is believed that there is a nationwide syndicate of women raping men in Zimbabwe, possibly to use their semen for use in “wealth” rituals. The three Zimbabwean women were charged after being found in possession of 33 condoms containing semen, obtained after a string of sex attacks whereby women targeted male hitchhikers.

Feminists argue that women are “more maternal” and “less aggressive”, and have been often speculated that if a woman were in charge, there would be no violence or wars. Yet, when Adam Jones examined the activities of five of the “female architects of the Rwandan genocide”, he noted the women not only participated in the selecting of thousands of Tutsi men and boys to be killed, but it was the women who were so often the ones perpetrating their murders. Accordingly, author Tim Goldich has stated:

“These cases of female leaders represent only a small part of the story of women’s participation in the genocide. At the grassroots, “very often, groups of women ululated their men into the ‘action’ that would result in the death of thousands of innocent men, women and children, many of them their own neighbours.”

“Their role was dominant in the post-massacre looting and stripping of bodies, which often involved climbing over corpses (and those still alive and moaning in agony) piled thigh-high in the confined spaces in which many Tutsis met their end. Frequently these women assisted in administering the coup de grâce to those clinging to life.”

Another report currently in the news, is the alleged rape and murder of a wealthy Nigerian man, Uroko Onoja, by his six wives; and let us not forget the female aggressors of male rape in the West: Only a few days ago, Oklahoma teacher, Michelle McCutchan, was convicted of raping two 16-year-old male students, and also Keyvette Gamble for sexually abusing her friend’s 14 year old son. In the later cases, however, both female perpetrators have been sentenced to 15 years in prison. There have been several widely publicised cases of female-on-male statutory rape in the United States involving school teachers raping their underage students, such as the cases that lead to the convictions of Mary Kay Letourneau and Debra Lafave.

Misconceptions and Ignorance

When a boy is sexually abused by a woman, people often do not recognise the harm. Take for example the recent case of, Zakiya Gaskins, a woman from Washington, who was charged with assaulting her neighbour’s 13-year-old son. Authorities had to relocate the teenage victim and his family, because neighbours harassed the boy when he reported the assault. It is reported that neighbours referred to him as a “punk” and quizzed if there was “something wrong with him”, because he “didn’t like it”. Another recent Washington case reveals how 18 year old Heaven Wright, gave her 13-year-old male rape victim a sexually transmitted disease.

Not only do male rape victims report a lack of services and support, but many legal systems are often ill-equipped to deal with this type of crime. Inconsistent definitions of rape, different rates of reporting, recording, prosecution and conviction for rape create controversial statistical disparities, and leading to rape statistics which are unreliable, and do not represent the full picture. Even though Britain has, more male rape awareness campaigns and crisis centres available per head of the population than in most other Western countries, under British Law, the crime of male rape was only legally recognised in 1994. Unlike most countries, British society is beginning to open their minds, and recognise that men are also vulnerable, and men have hope through Male Rights activist groups. Yet, even Britain still has a long way to go with regards public awareness of male rape.

A hard-hitting poster campaign by male rape charity Survivors UK, targeted this year’s Six Nations to urge victims to speak out, using the high profile at Twickenham. The masculine image of rugby was used to convey the message that male rape does not make a victim any less of a man.

There are still many misconceptions that male rape will only happen to a “weak” man, and that only gay men are raped. In reality, many victims are heterosexual. One example that might go some way in dispersing the “weak” theory is the story of a male US soldier who was a victim of female-male rape, and has since suffered Military Sexual Trauma (MST) after being raped by his female supervisor, who was a First Sergeant, and reported “used her higher rank and position to get what she wanted”. The US Attorney Shana Dunn, has reported that at least 27 percent of men serving in the military are estimated to have suffered “Military Sexual Trauma” either as a result of sexual assault, or repeated harassment and threatened assault. Whist the figure for females is 60 percent, the 27 percent figure for men is, nevertheless, 27 percent too many. So is the figure of 60 percent.

How can a man have an erection, or ejaculation, during a sexual assault unless he wanted it?

There is also much ignorance regarding the biological aspect of male rape, with statements such as, “a man cannot have an erection or ejaculation during a sexual assault, unless he wanted it”. However, an article by Philip M. Sarrel and William H. Masters entitled “Sexual molestation of men by women” (Archives of Sexual Behavior 11 (2): 82–88), states that male erectile response is involuntary. Any physical contact or extreme stress can cause an erection and ejaculation, and does not imply desire or enjoyment. Women can initiate penetrative sex through stimulation of external male genitalia or the anus, and can force penetration of the anus with the use of foreign objects such as dildos, or even force oral sex. As some abusers and rapists are aware of this biological process, and how it can confuse a victim of sexual assault, Survivors UK – a male rape charity, has reported that it motivates some attackers to “manipulate their victims to the point of erection or ejaculation to increase their feelings of control and to discourage people from telling their story”.

Although more research on male-male and female-male is beginning to emerge, almost no research has been conducted on female-female rape, although there have been cases reported, thus further dispersing many feminist theories and social misconceptions about men only being perpetrators, and females the victims. Perhaps there are fewer female-female rapes because of size restrictions: female victims are more likely to fight off a female aggressor, whereas men are often taught not to hit a women back. Certainly, as a female, I can testify to having been the recipient of far more aggression in my lifetime from fellow females, than I have from males. Memories spring to mind of being pushed down stairs, hit with a hockey stick, and pushed onto the road in front of a travelling lorry – all by fellow female schoolmates. Very little aggression was ever perpetrated by boys towards girls, yet, the girls were certainly known to hit a few boys. However, this is only an observation from my own personal experience as a Caucasian female living in Britain, and is by no means an official statistic. This is not to say that women are not victim to male abuse, as the domestic violence and rape figures reveal otherwise. Nevertheless, research on female aggression has revealed that women can be more violent than men, and let us not forget that rape is a crime of control and aggression, and not a random act of passion.

Given the extent of the social stigma towards male rape, and the level of patriarchy in society, it is understandable as to why so many male-male sex crimes are believed to go unreported. Even if the numbers are smaller – so what? Men are human beings, just like women; and no human being deserves such pain and suffering. Nor do men, as fellow human beings, deserve the psychological terror male rape victims experience of being judged, abandoned, ridiculed, and not to mention the fear or actuality of contracting HIV. In certain non-Western countries men are left with no access to healthcare or surgery, leaving them incontinent from their injuries, and unable seek help for fear of homosexual conviction. Many men end up doubting their sexuality, fearing sex, and many have difficulty forming relationships as a result of rape. Male rape can cause severe disability or disorder, and whilst the crime is undoubtedly a real threat for women, it is also so for men. It a heinous crime, no matter who the victim may be, and is not something to joke about, or judge a genuine victim for. Male rape victims need to know they have nothing to feel ashamed of – it is not their fault, and they need to be able to speak out.

Every single one of us could potentially be a victim of a sexual attack, irrespective of whether we are male or female. It is high time that the draconian views of society accepted this, and provided men with the same level of benevolence and protection as females.

Still not convinced? Question how you might feel if the victim of male rape were your son, or your father. Perhaps that concluding thought will provoke a few to open their minds, and hopefully their hearts.

Is Chivalry Dead? – If only!

Since blogging on WordPress, I have encountered a number of interesting blogs written by fellow bloggers. One post that provoked some disagreement was ‘Chivalry – it’s not just for knights’, written by author, Stephen Liddell. Whilst I respect Stephen’s views on the matter, I must confess that my views do not coincide. Why should one gender be treated differently to the other when it comes down to something that, essentially, should be nothing other than good manners and common courtesy?

From a female perspective, the underlying patriarchy of chivalry has always sat uneasily with me: The implication that men are the strong protectors, who tend to the perceived weaker gender, like a knight in shining armour. Feminists argue that chivalry is, therefore, misogynistic, but I disagree with this view entirely.

Misogyny is defined as being a “hatred, dislike, or distrust of women”, and even if men really are chivalrous as a result of their inherent beliefs that women are weak (as the feminists claim), I fail to see the correlation between the belief that someone is frail, and hating them. A newborn baby is more fragile than a fully-grown adult; does that mean that we nurture and protect a child who is so precious to us, purely out of hatred? Such feminist theories are preposterous, and as such, do not stand any validity in forming a well constructed argument or reason. Chivalry may very well be patriarchal, and exasperating for women such as myself, but it is surely not a feature of misogyny.

 

On average, men are only about 15-percent larger than women, although the average male is usually physically stronger than most women, because of greater muscle mass. Of course, there are exceptions, and even if a woman is physically weaker than her male suitor, that does not make her too frail to open a door for herself, or to stand during a train journey. Women such as the suffragette, Emily Davison, died in the fight for female equality in our history; so what a kick in the teeth to the memories of women who fought for equality, when there are still some instances of women being perceived as the “weaker” gender, so many years on. Perhaps such patriarchy is the result of modern women demanding they be “treated like queens”, just as much as men are at fault for bestowing it upon women whilst, quite hypocritically, failing to treat their fellow men with such good manners.

When a sports injury necessitated the use of crutches last year, I was admittedly, very grateful when a seat was offered on public transport, and was genuinely touched by the number of kind people who would stop and offer to help – both men and women. Usually it was men who offered to help, and I could not help but wonder how many of them would have been so helpful had I been male. No doubt the men who stopped to offer help, believed they were just being kind, and maybe they really would have been as helpful towards a male as they were towards a female. But, as Steven Liddle wrote in his blog, “I do it for me” –  Is such a statement not a form of moral superiority, whereby the person is rather egotistically making the gesture, merely to make himself believe he is the “good guy”? I cannot help but object to, what is essentially a patriarchical moral high ground, particularly as good social etiquette dictates the obligation that I should graciously say thank you for something I neither wanted, nor asked for, but was imposed upon me nonetheless.

Being a humanist (as opposed to a feminist), I advocate equality between both genders. Men should be treated the same as women, with good manners bestowed upon both genders – and not forgetting the transgendered, too. When a man runs to hold a door open a door for a woman, or offers to carry her bags, then he should offer the same to a fellow male. If a woman is genuinely in a position where she appears to be in need of help, such as being on crutches and struggling to carry heavy bags, or may need a seat; then yes, by all means offer her help – but also offer the same assistance to a man on crutches. I certainly would, and very often have, much to the surprise of the men in question. With regards pregnant or elderly ladies (and elderly men!) unsteady on their feet; yes, a physically healthy man should give up his seat – but so should other women who are not pregnant, elderly, or less physically able to stand (I.e. on crutches or recovering from surgery, etc.) It is a matter of priority and common courtesy.

My message to all the “Knights in Shining Armour” out there: Instead of behaving in a chivalrous manner, try being an all-round decent human being instead. People will respect you for it more.

My little anti-feminist joke of the day!