Thursday, 26 May 2011

How easy it is being a male....

Here you'll find an article on a man who was treated in a particular way by British Airways on the assumption that since he was a man he was, according to them, a risk to children he might be seated next to.

His pregnant wife wished to swap seats with him, so he obliged and found himself next to a child travelling on his own. The man was asked to change back to his seat on the grounds that he became a risk to the child's security.

Now this seems wrong-headed to me, for a number of reasons. Firstly let's not beat about the bush here - it's gender discrimination - precisely what we have been told for years is one of the worst evils in this land. It's sexism but against men so it doesn't make the news. No one will lose their job over this.

BA eventually said that they were at fault because they didn't realise he was with his wife. That too is slightly disgustingly wrong. They are admitting a minor fault, but not retracting their implicit sexism. It's one of the most insulting apologies I've ever seen (and there are many contenders).

Here is a quote from the excellent piece linked to above:

"When you think about it, even though Mr Fischer is quite right to label the policy sex discrimination, he was better off having swapped seats with his wife. Such is the fear and hysteria around child abuse, he might have been at greater risk than any fear-hyped child. Imagine if, having dropped his pen, and feeling for it on the floor, he accidentally brushed his fingers against the child’s leg. The kid screams, “Don’t touch me!” Three hundred eyes swivel his way, the cabin crew come rushing over, the pilot alerts the destination security, the poor sap is hauled off the plane protesting his innocence to no avail, and his life is ruined."

This comes a couple of days after I came out of my OWN HOUSE (which is next to a footpath) and a mother passed calling her 2/3 yr old daughter who behaved slightly shyly. Aforementioned mother then talked to the wife out of our neighbours saying her daughter was being slow because she had seen "a man" - and I think plenty of men would recognize the tone of voice that was said in. 

Not only do you get her bad attitude towards men. But the fact that the lady who lives next door - someone I thought I liked - is extremely unlikely to say anything to her friend, possibly (nay probably) on grounds of solidarity. Try and imagine that, ladies - I mean really try imagining living with those entrenched attitudes - and you might have a bit of a eureka moment about why the man in your life is the way he is.

Monday, 16 May 2011

Sometimes there's good news

So from time to time we go on holiday to Wales - often to the same place. Why to the same place, given that I'm a restless sort? Simply because the owners of the B&B and cottages are some of the nicest people I have ever met. We first stayed there 4 years ago when I was going through a stressful time at work. In a few days the holiday turned my mood around. One time, I overheard them talking about us. Usually you don't want that to happen, don't want to hear what other people say about you - but these people seemed to like us as much as we liked them. They gave me the best example I've ever seen of how family life should be - just happy and unworried.

They spoke so calmly - the hostess had a lovely smile and I must admit I was very charmed by her - but the husband too is an unusually happy, positive soul, and wonderful company. We talked about the walks round the area and took their dog on her favourite walk. She charged up and down steep, icy hills and we feared we might lose our host's dog for them but she always reappeared, ready for more mad dashes up and down the hills..

We didn't stay with them this time - but we were passing, so paid this family a visit. Their kindness goes far beyond that of someone trying to keep their guests on-side. Children from around the town came to visit and play on the trampoline. S and I drove back through the road with the most beautiful views I know - alone for miles and miles but for a few sheep and some deserted-looking former pubs - with a man in fatigues wondering between them (the area is used by the military). One of Norah Jones' lovelier albums added to the inner calm I felt. The sun shone over that landscape. My self-worth - whatever that really means - had returned, though I hadn't realised its absence.

It was a wonderful day. Every time I see our friends, I'm reminded how things should be, and how I ought to live. Too much of my life my day-to-day moments seem to have been plagued with nagging worry and discontent - I can still feel that old tension in my shoulders now. But happiness seems such an obvious thing in those Welsh hills. I guess I need that fresh air to breathe. I need to always remember that place inside me.

Sunday, 8 May 2011

Osama Bin Laden

I can hardly say I am sorry that Osama Bin Laden was shot dead very recently. The manner of the shooting can only convince us, unfortunately, that the Americans a) are a law unto themselves, and b) talk and think as though they are living in a hollywood heroic movie scenario. Or at least canny politicians are aware that if they present things in this way, the US public are more likely to accept it.

Its quite possible that those politicians are as unable to distinguish between Hollywood "right and wrong" and the real world as the public they pitch their propaganda to. That seems to always be the question with them - did Mrs Thatcher firmly believe that we had to go to war (in the Falklands and then in the 1st Iraq war) or how motivated was she by the probable electoral boost that a war win would give her and her government? It's the same as what we were saying about Argentina's General Galtieri at the time..

It is chilling to think that politicians could write away young people's lives for such a reason. Tony Blair's motives were continually in question in his time in No.10, and I wish we could know the full story of why decisions to go to war were made the way they were.

But Bin Laden was unarmed and I have a feeling that he should have been brought to trial. Were the US afraid of tortuous legal proceedings? Did this persuade them that they should quietly advise the soldiers to  shoot to kill? I'm making this up as I go along, I know, but the fact remains he was unarmed when shot, and the scenario given to the press was flimsy from the start. were they truly afraid he would blow himself and the soldiers up in a suicide attack when cornered? This doesn't have the ring of truth for me - he wasn't a suicide bomber himself - he provided money and a figurehead for such people - but showed no wish to give up his life any time soon, even for his 'jihad'.

And now the steady slew of "revelations" being fed to the press telling us that, for instance, Bin Laden was planning another 9/11 style attack on the US (yeah right! in a stoned haze he might have said something of the kind). Such reports are there to scare us into thinking that "we got there just in time" - as Reagan famously said (was it about Panama?)

Now we learn that Bin Laden "was in active control of the terror network from his compound in northern Pakistan" when doubts have been raised as to whether al Qaeda had anything but the loosest of command structures - and may have been more a network than a military style organisation.

It all sounds like government-generated BS to me, to be honest.