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Sunday, 29 January 2017

On a Fat Blonde Guy and the 'New Iron Lady'



I've had a strange reaction to the news over the past few days.

I see stories of a man who once had a mission to offend as many minor demographics as he possibly could, now in charge of one of the most powerful countries in the World, whose mission now seems to be to provoke as many religions as he can with his executive ordersdefeat ISIL in 30 days, and hold Theresa May's hand.
That man is Donald Trump, if you're really really out of the loop.

And the guy tasked with keeping Trump grounded is a four-star retired Marine Corps general affectionately called James 'Mad Dog' Mattis.

Doesn't that fill you with hope.

And then there's the second person in the news without the popular vote, without any vote at all - it's Theresa May!
Only after swathes of criticism from politicians and public outcry (even her own MP's weren't best impressed), she would state that she "didn't agree" with Trump's ban on Muslims entering the US. This from the New Iron Lady, who promised she would hold Trump firmly to account before her visit to America.
Oh and there's those bits she didn't mention about Trident, about the misfire off the coast of Florida, which she knew about and didn't raise before the MP vote on renewing the £40 billion system, that's been conveniently buried.  

It's funny isn't it - a gallows humour kind of funny - that the increasingly populist Theresa May and the pure populist Trump campaign both succeeded without the popular vote.

May seems bent on attempting to secure the special relationship for another four years, hoping that if she feeds the crocodile enough, it will eat her last.


That's the thing.

If you look for similarities in World history of blanket bans of certain religions by major World powers, you only have to go back about 80 years. 

Will our un-elected Prime Minister stand up to oppression?
Will she defend against the breed of exclusive nationalism that killed Jo Cox?

The sad thing is I think that Theresa May not.

Sunday, 22 January 2017

Post-Truth

When I was a fresh-faced teenager, just beginning secondary school, I vividly remember a moment of clarity.
I was looking through my brother's biology A level book, (looking, not actually understanding anything) and I found a page which described the skin, and its layers.
I had eczema, and it was interesting to see such a comprehensive breakdown of the skin, the thing that had caused me so much annoyance and pain over the past ten years of my life.

Intrigued, I asked my Dad over dinner to talk me through, in 13 year old language, how the skin works, and what the reasons were for eczema. He told me, and I went back to my brother's book and what my Dad said was there, in the book. Me, a mere kid, understood about a sentence and a half of my brother's A level book, I was basically a God.
I was enthralled.
I thought if I simply had the time, I could read every book, and understand every thing, and then I would be much cleverer, and wouldn't that be a wonderful thing.

Thus began my love affair with books.

Fiction was my favourite superficially, I could immerse myself in different worlds, I could be totally different characters. I was a keen actor, and loved to spend days acting out roles of characters I'd read. But my real favourite, the books I'd want to really comprehend, were non-fiction. History books. Science books. I read hungrily, if you knew me around that age (and bless you if you did) I would read, and I would sleep, and I would eat, and I would smell like a teenage boy. My happiest days were in our book section at my parents' house, curled up on a rug with a hot chocolate and a book. How very twee, I know.

The most important bit of non-fiction for me was the truth. The facts that were stated were, until proven otherwise, irrefutable.
And I liked this.
Amongst the hormones, amongst a tough time growing up at home and at school, I had books, with facts, that were true, and I knew they were true.
And I have carried that love with me throughout my life, right next to making the perfect instant noodles, and the correct answer to "how do I look in this?"

Then I got introduced to politics.

Anyone can be a good enough politician if you can gesticulate enough, if you can pretend enough, if you have enough money.

Yesterday you had the new President Donald Trump denouncing the pictures of his inauguration, stating that the pictures were wrong in fact, there were far more people there than at Obama's. Although that's patently untrue, and President Trump has lied through his teeth throughout his campaign.

On the day after the Brexit vote, you had Nigel Farage stating that the claims 'Leave' made that £350m was going to the NHS were actually untrue.

And it turns out that Brexit hasn't been catastrophic for our economy, as experts predicted it would be, and as David Cameron trumpeted from every roof he could get his grubby little feet on.

Turns out adolescent me was naive.

That's often the case though, but when people told me to grow up, I didn't expect growing up to mean accepting that liars get to run the countries we live in.

I didn't expect growing up to mean accepting a rise in popular nationalism, as Trump has shown so well in his campaign.

Most of all, I didn't expect growing up to be so lonely. You can see nationalism as a way for some to rediscover a common identity. You can see the white-lash after Obama as the same thing.  But with that nationalism, with that sense of common identity, of us and them, comes the unpleasant reality, the facts of nationalism:
The rise of hate crime, of racism. When one distinguishes commonality by skin colour, or sexuality, you get a gay man being pulled from his car and beaten, or images of the swastika or Nazi salutes popping up in schools(Ibid).

Post-truth and Nationalism aren't one and the same thing at all. But it seems that it is now acceptable to make them so, and while that remains, the concept of a world-wide community is dust, and we have no common man.

We should not honour man more than truth. And we do, and we are.





Thursday, 12 January 2017

The invisible Epidemic

Just right out of the bat, domestic abuse as a problem is widely ignored. 
Citing quotes from Mankind facts & Statistics and their latest report into domestic abuse: 
One in four women will suffer domestic abuse 
One in six men will suffer domestic abuse. 

That’s an awful lot of your friends, your acquaintances, maybe even members in your family circle.

But male victims are over twice as likely (29%) than women (12%) to not tell anyone about the abuse they have suffered. This topic is more deserving of conversation than ever before. 

There seems to be something ingrained in a man's DNA; some dogma that dictates that to be a real man, we must make light of emotion and pain. (I talk more on the male ego and its stupidity here - He Man

But worse than this is the societal expectation of a man, which creates our own self-image. 

It's the story of the mental health counselor who told a husband being locked out of his home by an angry wife that "As long as he has his car, he has a home".

It's on the Jeremy Kyle show, in a rare second of humanity being horrible, where the audience laugh and jeer at the guy who jumped out of a three story window because his girlfriend - who regularly gives him black eyes and is smiling about it in the back - had locked him in the flat. 

It's the policemen who questioned my friend, who was submitted to horrible sexual abuse "why didn't you just push her off?" – like his shouting "No" multiple times wasn't enough of a sign that perhaps he didn't want to have sex. 

And it's here where male domestic abuse falls the hardest. At police response level. It's the most damning bit of this blog.

In England and Wales, 44% of police responses believed the man's partner that she was the victim. 
35% totally ignored what the man had to say.
In 21% of the cases, the police arrested the man. 
In 3% of the cases, the woman was arrested.

Police are nearly a third likely to ignore signs that a man has been assaulted by a woman, when they respond to a call. 

This is no competition. I'm not writing this blog in any way, shape or form, to say that the situation surrounding domestic violence against women is any better. It's not; it's an issue that makes victims of more people. But I think it's fair to say that domestic violence against men is talked about a whole lot less, and this is why I have written this blog.

And finally, and painfully. 

For the one in four women who will suffer domestic violence, and for the one in six men who will suffer the same, 

In the UK, there are 7,500 women's shelters, which is not enough.

In the UK, there are 60 men's shelters, which is not enough.

If you need support, visit –