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Sorry for the rather fragmentary nature of this entry but just wanted to highlight a few things before going back to being deeply immersed in work again…. Firstly Things to Make your blood boil include this piece on Wii Fit Women and the damage they cause. Now Shelia’s Wheels have been doing women related research since their foundation and, generally, whilst more market-research than social-research some of it’s been interesting (we covered another one on house viewings for example). But almost all of their research seems to be aimed at “aren’t women stupid” which, surely, isn’t the best way to flog us insurance. I made similar criticisms of the house viewings one. But this latest one is really rather worse, somehow, apparently women using Wii Fit is responsible for £20,100,000 of damage, yes that’s right £20.1 million. How, well because in a survey of 1,000 women, an undisclosed number said that they’d damaged a plant pot or knocked a piece of furniture with an average damage cost of £6.55. How do we get some £6.55 to £20.1 million? Will by timesing £6.55 by 3,068,702.29 apparently, but what does that 3 million + figure mean? One can only guess, numbers of Wii Fits sold maybe? Random integer Shelia’s Wheels came up with to make a substantial figure? I don’t know. But apparently:

Flower pots, television sets and even pets have been sent flying by the high kicks and hula hoop motions of increasingly vigorous home exercise routines, a study found. And with the credit crunch forcing households to rein in spending on luxuries such as expensive gym memberships, the toll of destruction on Britain’s living rooms is only expected to rise.

From The Telegraph

In more serious blood-boiling stuff, last week The Observer carried an interview with Katie Roiphe to advertise her new book on unconventional marriages. Rachel Cooke, the interviewer, seems to have uncritically decided Roiphe was right in her first book on how feminism makes women into victims. For example Cooke talks about that book (The Morning After) like this:

She suggested that it was, at best, muddle-headed and, at worst, hysterical for young women, especially clever young women on campuses, to call, as they were then wont to do, unpleasant or regrettable sexual encounters with their peers ‘date rape’.

From The Observer

I’m sorry “where then wont to do”? Were we/they? I’ve yet to see an accusation of rape which was just about the morning after regret and Roiphe provides little other than her own rather insulting involvement with a rally against rape as evidence. Roiphe goes on that feminists:

should kick back and have a giant Scotch as they survey the world and see that they have won. There is nothing better for the feminist movement than looking in the face of its own extinction

From The Observer

Well I’ll be sure to remember that as I get paid less than my male counterparts, get harassed on the street for daring to own breasts and worldwide account for more poverty and illiteracy than my male counterparts because surely they are signs of our absolute equality. (I’m using equality as the measure here as I suspect it’s the one Roiphe would feel more comfortable with). And further:

‘I was watching a Democrat debate with my child and I said, “Wouldn’t it be cool if there was a girl President? There’s never been one before.” She looked at me in disdain and said, “Yes there has.” I realised that for her it’s so natural that a woman would be President that it’s not a big deal. The revolution has succeeded.

From The Observer

Only, and I hate to let historical accuracy spoil such a rose-tinted view, there is the teeny-tiny issue that, well, the US has never had a female present and I’m not really convinced a young child is best placed to measure gender equality. I’d love to think this girl-child’s faith in the equality due to her will remain untainted as she grows up but entirely suspect, as she gets older, she will struggle to reconcile the view that she should achieve on a par with men, for the same work, and yet also has to that whilst wearing high-heels, being attractive (but not too attractive) and facing widespread discrimination. Mind Roiphe is a well-to-do white woman so maybe Roiphe junior will have that natural expectation of entitlement and maybe it’ll pan out. Meanwhile the rest of us will just have to accept that our claims to equality are simply less important or indeed wrong now Roiphe feels she has it all.

Meanwhile, far far away from Roiphe’s comfortable penthouse apartment, things aren’t going well for women in Afghanistan where there is increasingly worrying evidence about the rise of prostitution there.

Afghanistan is one of the world’s most conservative countries, yet its sex trade appears to be thriving. Sex is sold most obviously at brothels full of women from China who serve both Afghans and foreigners. Far more controversial are Afghan prostitutes, who stay underground in a society that pretends they don’t exist.

From Associated Press

Take this case study. A girl who was 11 when she was forcibly anally raped by a war veteran, then paid $5 for it and since became a “full-time” prostitute, but to maintain her “virginity” she only has anal sex.

The girl is now 13, and her features have just sharpened into striking beauty. She speaks four languages — the local languages of Pashtu and Dari, the Urdu she picked up as a refugee in Pakistan and the English she learned in a $2.40-a-month course she pays for herself in Kabul. She is the breadwinner in her family of 10.

She does not know what a condom is. She has not heard of AIDS.

From Associated Press

Afghanistan prostitution involves both Afghani and chinese prostitutes both of whom are at risk of trafficking within Afghanistan and across borders. And boys aren’t exempted either. The victim of the war veteran was trafficked by her rapist/pimp and then freed by Afghani Police, when she was freed, however, her family sent her 13 year old brother to the pimp instead because her prostitution was the family income.

On the flip side some interesting, positive other stuff. There are reports that hosiery sellers, Tightsplease, are running an appeal for old tights to help support/hold dressings post-pregnancy and for fistula suffers in Ethopia. It’s mentioned here and here although I can’t find it on their website.

There’s also a short history of vibrators in The Times.