Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Beijing campaign for same sex marraiges

Here. I thought the situation in China was far worse. If this demo can actually go ahead, and if there is sympathetic, nay supportive feeling towards China's gay community, that's great.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

So, thinking about lists and books..

Following on from my meme post featuring the 100 books list, I was thinking about the comments left. There was one from Baal pointing out the lack of diversity in the list, referring to both the authors and the subject matter I imagine. Well, I reckon Baal is right. I also reckon that looking into why that is so would be a good idea. To do this, it would help to find the original list from the BBC.
Alas, I cannot find it, I am not sure it exists. I did however find this which reckons the list was cobbled together by someone, not necessarily at the BBC, from the BBC's Big Read done a few years back. So I reckon, if you were after an official list to measure yourself up against, we've been duped.
If you wanted to see how you measured up against generically popular books, then I guess the meme list does it.
Anyway, inspired by Baal's comment I thought I'd see how I measure up against a Feminist SF and F list for beginners. Because, hey, I prefer my books not to be misogynist and I love Sfa dn Fantasy.

Bearing in mind that I read a lot of books, a lot of the time, let's see how I measure up.

As a reminder here are the rules:
1) Look at the list and put an ‘x’ after those you have read.
2) Add a ‘+’ to the ones you LOVE (or in my case just plain old liked)
3) Star (*) those you plan on reading.

If there is no '+' after one I've read assume that i hated it.

Here goes:

Margaret Atwood. The Handmaid's Tale. X
Louky Bersianik. The Euguelionne
Marion Zimmer Bradley. The Mists of Avalon. X +
--. Thendara House. (Darkover)
--. The Shattered Chain (Darkover).
Gerd Brantenberg. Egalia's Daughters
Dorothy Bryant. The Kin of Ata Are Waiting for You
Katherine Burdekin. Swastika Night
Octavia Butler. Wild Seed.
Parable of the Sower.
Xenogenesis Trilogy: Dawn, Adulthood Rites, Imago.
Leonora Carrington. The Hearing Trumpet
Angela Carter. The Bloody Chamber X
Saints and Sinners
Suzy McKee Charnas. Walk to the End of the World.
The Furies.
the Conqueror's Child
Samuel Delany. Triton
Candas Jane Dorsey. Black Wine
Suzette Haden Elgin. Native Tongue.
The Judas Rose: Native Tongue II.
For the Sake of Grace" (copyright 1969 from Fantasy & Science Fiction; reprinted in
Donald Wollheim & Terry Carr's World's Best Science Fiction: 1970).
Sally Miller Gearhart. The Wanderground.
Charlotte Perkins Gilman. "The Yellow Wallpaper"
Herland X +
Jewelle Gomez. The Gilda Stories
Nicola Griffith. Ammonite.
Bertha Harris. Lover
Nalo Hopkinson. Brown Girl in the Ring
Gwyneth Jones. White Queen
Tanith Lee. The Birthgrave
Ursula K. Le Guin. Always Coming Home.
The Left Hand of Darkness. X
Tehanu. X+
The Birthday of the World and Other Stories X+
Elizabeth Lynn. The Northern Girl.
The woman Who Loved the Moon and Other Stories (1981)
Maureen McHugh. Mission Child
Vonda McIntyre. Dreamsnake (1978)
Judith Merril. Daughters of Earth and Other Stories (1969)
Naomi Mitchison. Memoirs of a Spacewoman (1962)
Solution Three (1975)
Elizabeth Moon. Sheep-Farmer's Daughter
C.L. Moore. Jirel of Joiry (1969) (a series of stories) X+
Marge Piercy. Woman on the Edge of Time. X+
He, She, and It.
Joanna Russ. The Female Man
The Adventures of Alyx
The Two of Them
Jessica Amanda Salmonson. Amazons! anthologies (two)
Pamela Sargent. Women of Wonder anthologies.
The Shore of Women.
Melissa Scott. Shadowman
Trouble and Her Friends
Mary Shelley. Frankenstein *
Joan Slonczewski. A Door Into Ocean.
Secret Feminist Cabal. Flying Cups and Saucers (1998) (the Tiptree anthology) * (Because of the title, I hadn't heard of it before this list)
Nancy Springer. Larque on the Wing.
Starhawk. The Fifth Sacred Thing.
Theodore Sturgeon. Venus Plus x
Sheri Tepper. Beauty. X++++
The Gate to Women's Country. *
James Tiptree, Jr. "Your Faces, O My Sisters!" in Aurora: Beyond Equality.
Houston, Houston, Do You Read?" in Aurora: Beyond Equality.
Elisabeth Vonarburg. The Silent City.
In the Mother's Land.
Sylvia Townsend Warner. Lolly Willowes, or, The Loving Huntsman (1925)
Monique Wittig. Les Guerrilleres
Virginia Woolf. Orlando
Jane Yolen. Sister Light, Sister Dark

That makes 10 that I've read. I don't know whether that makes me a bad feminist or a bad SF and F fan. or just not widely read. /sarcasm

Mind you, i don't do much better with the list of comics:
Doom Patrol X+ (I haven't read their own title but what i've come across in other books is pretty good)
Fags in Space: A Completely Queer Cosmic Comic
Futaba-kin Change
Hothead Paisan
Invasion of the Space Amazons from the Purple Planet
Ranma *
Tank Girl X+ (i've liked some, Tank Girl The Odyssy is rocking)
The X-Men X (Joss Whedon's run is ok)
Aeon Flux *
Akiko by Mark Crilley
Best American
Books of Magic X +
Castle Waiting
Clockwork Angels by Lea Hernandez
Hellblazer: The Restoration Comedy X
House of Secrets X
League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (I saw the film, does that count? ;)
Love and Rockets - Gilbert and Jaime Hernandez
Promethea X (Vol1 +++, later volumes not so enjoyable)
Rumble Girls
Sandman by Neil Gaiman
A Game of You
Death: The Time of Your Life X++
Strangers in Paradise
Top Ten X

I think they need to update their lists. And specify runs of comics, with authors and artists.

Well, that passed the time.

Currently listening to: Lots of old Octopus singles. I'm still on my indie kick. Octopus were wonderful.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

lets switch some heads

Gwen Stacey as Blue Beetle, Hawkman's head on Kara, the blue beetle helmet on Gwen. I think it works.

I tried to upload some scans from FC Revelatiosn and Terra but it somehow failed. Damn. Should I be able to upload pdfs here?

Friday, February 20, 2009

Share the reading love

And oh, what love this week! (And last week’s too, as I’m late)

What follows is talk of:
Supergirl 38, Superman/Batman 55, Action Comics 874
Green Arrow and Black Canary 17
Booster Gold 17
Showcase 95 #5 (featuring Spoiler!)
A few lines about other old DC books (Fanboy GL, LoSH and New Gods)
Some delight over George R R Martin’s Dreamsongs, a RRetrospective volume 1
Me bemoaning my lack of attention to reading orders, maybe. Possibly also some Buffy thoughts.

That’s a lot to get through. I’ll bolden up each heading, read whichever parts you like.

So, onwards and, of course, spoilers ahead.
Supergirl #38
Oh my how I love the cover of this. Not so much for Kara, but for Superwoman. The eyes, the eyes. She’s mesmerising. I could look at that cover all day.
About the inside of the book. It seems like a lot of issues have opened with Kara announcing ‘This is my life’ and her getting decked by a supposed friend. A reference back to the earlier issues perhaps? Kara does talk like a teenager in this, which is good for getting the character right, but might be annoying if you don’t use teenage slang yourself. I do take umbrage at the use of the word ‘psyche’. Has anyone ever said that, past about 1994? Honestly.
The fight scene was fun and the colouring lovely – the blues of the ice, the sea and the sky were a pleasure to see. It’s good to see that Superwoman’s gold discs have a use – that of communicating with her bosses.
Focusing on the art once more, the panels with Cat Grant were a treat and really showed her ugly personality. The doll scares me, and I feel trepidation regarding who sent it, I’m certain Kara didn’t, not her style.
The Superwoman mystery depends. Forget what I said last month, now I’m hooked and excited as to who she is. It is revealed (or is that a red herring?) that she’s not Kryptonian, despite Kara guessing at Thara being under the mask.
Now, in a planet full of Kryptonians, how could Kara be given a secret mission? And could Superwoman truly hide her identity? Surely all Kara would have to do is listen hard to everyone on the planet (far less a number than earth’s population) and focus on the familiar voice, then go find her. But I guess Kara isn’t that curious (or creepy).

Re: Origins and omens. Looks like there’s interesting stuff coming up. I’m glad to see that Lana is looking after Streaky (love the origin of the name) and I’m looking forward to the future love interest.

Best line in the book? ‘I’m so going to kick you in the face!’

Superman/Batman #55
I KNEW it. Batman is insane. This proves what I’ve been saying (thinking?) all along. Power hungry messed up in the head idiot. He beat up on Selina! And Dick! I reckon Kal’s powers brought out the urges he’s been burying.

Kara as Linda Lang comes to see Clark at the hospital, and I’m ashamed to say I didn’t recognise her immediately. I’m a bad fan. The scene was wonderful though. In fact, this whole story arc is great.

Favourite panel? Where Bruce is laying into Clark and GL, Flash, Zatanna and Lois are all holding Clark back.

Action Comics 874
Good opening page. Very good. The Zod, Ursa and Non problem is coming along nicely and we are promised more of Nightwing and Flamebird next month, which is a plus. The destruction of the phantom zone is very intriguing, as is the question of how Mon-El will survive on earth.

Booster Gold 17
Booster ensures Barry has his accident and then Booster interrupts a younger version of himself. Not as good as last issue, but good enough.

Green Arrow/Black Canary 17
I love this cover – it’s the shades of green they’ve used and the detailing on the shadows I think.
This is a vast improvement on previous issues. For one, the deliciously evil bad guy attacks a building with a truck. By driving into the top floor from another high storey building. That, is ace.
Secondly, Dinah gets to fight. She helps herself, she doesn’t get rescued by Ollie and they work as an effective team. We also get to see more of the action from Dinah’s point of view. Now that means that the issue lives up to it’s title, for once.

Re the origins and omens segment, we see Dinah’s discovery of her powers and the aftermath of the guy she injured last issue – he’s been deafened and he’s not happy about it. Speedy has been given a black costume, but doesn’t look evil and I think that one of the pictures shows Ollie pointing an arrow at Dinah, but the positioning is off. And it looks like the future is going to centre around Ollie, as usual. Which would be fine, if the book was named Green Arrow.

Showcase 95, #5
A Spoiler story! Steph finds out her coach is dealing drugs to schoolkids, in her school. One of them dies in a car accident the inference is that it’s because they were high. This incident teaches Steph that yet again, shit happens and she loses a little more faith in adults. Poor kid.
This issue also features a Thorn story, and a Firehawk story. It’s worth getting for the Thorn and Spoiler sections.

Assorted DC books
Legion of Superheroes #43 – the intruder to their HQ calls Drura ‘Infectious Lass’. This may have been a joke but is an entirely plausible name for a member of the LoSH. Good issue, I’d kinda like to read more of this run now.
New Gods #1 – I should have read this before Final Crisis.
FanboyGL of the lunch room sector# 2. Odd. I hadn’t come across the fanboy mini before. Features half of Hal Jordan’s ass.

Dreamsongs: A RRetrospective book one
Well I finally finished reading it, and I can definitely say it’s the most enjoyable and gripping collection of short stories I have stumbled across. You won’t find a huge amount of diversity in the stories, but they are so well crafted and so powerful I don’t really care. To be fair, in Martin’s future worlds sexuality doesn’t seem to be an issue although all his couples are heterosexual. Anyway, onto specific stories:
If you pick this volume up I wouldn’t bother with the 4 colour fanboy section. Instead, head straight to the filthy pro, sci fi, fantasy or horror sections. With Morning Comes Mistfall is beautiful, The Ice Dragon is about a small child discovering her humanity and empathy, Bitterblooms uses Arthurian legends and In the Lost Lands deals with how it is sometimes unwise to get what you most desire. I found the horror section the most powerful though. Meathouse Man displays deep misogyny, yet also condemns it, and The Monkey Treatment is a story of how the fat man gets his revenge on diets.

After finishing reading this volume I felt at a loss for what to do next. I ended up going to Waterstones and spending £31 on 4 more books, including the 2nd volume of Dreamsongs and an Ursula le Guin book which I discovered was the 3rd in a series. I've read number 1, not number 2, and have been waiting to read Powers for months and months, and now have to get book number 2 first. Arggh. I could have been getting more reading action done months ago if I’d known. I’m a dumbass.

I found this post about the Buffy comics (via WFA). The writer has a very good point. Where are the normal sized ladies in Buffy? Where’s the variation we saw in the last episode of season 7? ‘Tis a crying shame that hasn’t been carried through.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009


I haven't been tagged, I saw it on An Open Letter by a Feminist and decided to do it, it looks interesting.

BBC Book List

Apparently the BBC reckons most people will have only read 6 of the 100 books here.


1) Look at the list and put an ‘x’ after those you have read.
2) Add a ‘+’ to the ones you LOVE.
3) Star (*) those you plan on reading.

1. Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen
2 The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien x +
3 Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte
4 Harry Potter series - JK Rowling x +
5 To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee x +
6 The Bible *
7 Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte
8 Nineteen Eighty Four - George Orwell x +
9 His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman x+
10 Great Expectations - Charles Dickens tried to read, failed.
11 Little Women - Louisa M Alcott tried to read, failed.
12 Tess of the D’Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy tried to read, failed - started at school. hated it with a passion.
13 Catch 22 - Joseph Heller x
14 Complete Works of Shakespeare i've read some. I love a Midsumemr Nights dream
15 Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier tried to read, failed - started at school. hated it with a passion.
16 The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien x
17 Birdsong - Sebastian Faulks
18 Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger x
19 The Time Traveller’s Wife - Audrey Niffenegger x
20 Middlemarch - George Eliot
21 Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell
22 The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald
23 Bleak House - Charles Dickens
24 War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy *
25 The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams x
26 Brideshead Revisited - Evelyn Waugh
27 Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky
28 Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck
29 Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll (maybe read as a child)
30 The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame (maybe read as a child)
31 Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy
32 David Copperfield - Charles Dickens
33 Chronicles of Narnia - CS Lewis x +
34 Emma - Jane Austen
35 Persuasion - Jane Austen
36 The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe - CS Lewis x+ (a duplicate of # 33 surely?)
37 The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini
38 Captain Corelli’s Mandolin - Louis De Berniere
39 Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden x
40 Winnie the Pooh - AA Milne (maybe read as a child)
41 Animal Farm - George Orwell x
42 The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown
43 One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez *
44 A Prayer for Owen Meaney - John Irving
45 The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins
46 Anne of Green Gables - LM Montgomery -
47 Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy
48 The Handmaid’s Tale - Margaret Atwood x
49 Lord of the Flies - William Golding x
50 Atonement - Ian McEwan x
51 Life of Pi - Yann Martel x
52 Dune - Frank Herbert *
53 Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons
54 Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen
55 A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth
56 The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon *
57 A Tale Of Two Cities - Charles Dickens
58 Brave New World - Aldous Huxley x +
59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - Mark Haddon x +
60 Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
61 Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck x +
62 Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov x +
63 The Secret History - Donna Tartt
64 The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold x
65 Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas
66 On The Road - Jack Kerouac
67 Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy
68 Bridget Jones’s Diary - Helen Fielding
69 Midnight’s Children - Salman Rushdie*
70 Moby Dick - Herman Melville
71 Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens
72 Dracula - Bram Stoker*
73 The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett
74 Notes From A Small Island - Bill Bryson
75 Ulysses - James Joyce
76 The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath
77 Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome
78 Germinal - Emile Zola
79 Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray
80 Possession - AS Byatt
81 A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens
82 Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell x
83 The Color Purple - Alice Walker x +
84 The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro
85 Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert
86 A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry
87 Charlotte’s Web - EB White x +
88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven - Mitch Albom
89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
90 The Faraway Tree Collection - Enid Blyton (I was a famous 5 kid)
91 Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad
92 The Little Prince - Antoine De Saint-Exupery
93 The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks x +
94 Watership Down - Richard Adams x +
95 A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole
96 A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute
97 The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas
98 Hamlet - William Shakespeare
99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl x
100 Les Miserables - Victor Hugo

I've read rather a lot. And appear to have liked/loved most of them. And don't want to read many of the others.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Smallville Se8 Ep08 Bloodline

Kara came back! And then left again :(
I liked this episode. Clark and Lois get sucked to the phantom zone and stumbles upon Kara. they manage to send Lois back to earth but she gets possessed by Fayara (Thayara?), Zod's missus.

Chloe enlists the help of Green Arrow (still hot and in costume this time) to steal the computery type spinney metal hoop thing to help her read the super computer that is the crystal, in order that she can steal Clark back from the Phantom Zone. He also brings Kara back.

Lois-as-Fayara meets Chloe and Tess Mercer (separately) and finds out that mystery dangerous ambulance driver man (remember him?) is her and Zod's son! Dun dun DUN! I prefer this version of Zod's offspring to the Christopher Kent comic version offspring.

Kara gets a crystal from J'onn J'onzz (offscreen) and sucks the phantom Fayara out of Lois, who has just shoved Clark out of a 6 storey hospital window. He broke a car when he landed on it.

Tess Mercer gets more suspicious re Clark and Lex's disappearance. Lois loses her memory of being in the phantom zone, mostly. She's convinced it was a(n?) hallucination. How convenient. Kara advised Clark that Lois can handle his secret then flew off to find Kandor.

Kara shone in this episode, she really did.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Link time

For want of being able to write something properly have some links:

Reveiws of Dollhouse
Has anyone reading watched it? What's the verdict? I haven't had time to get past Season 8, episode 7 of Smallville so am seriously missing my trashy telly fix. Except I did watch about 4 episodes of Buffy yesterday (seaosn 5, 3 more to go till the end). Buffy is a crap sister to Dawn, she doesn't listen to her and ignores her questions and Dawn's attempts to understand her mother's death. No wonder Dawn acts like such a child and takes to stealing things.
The episode where they deal with Joyce's death moves me to tears more and more very time I see it.

A UK black woman's reaction to Obama as President.

Real life has been pretty busy lately and it's all I can do to catch up with my blog reading. Oh well, hopefully all this hard work will pay off.

Friday, February 06, 2009

Supergirl Tonner doll

Oh that is beautiful But at 200 dollars it's not gonna happen...damn exchange rate.
not buying stuff has gone out the window when i look at this doll. It's a good thing I'm not rich.
She looks like she's gonna stomp you in the ground if you even look at her funny.
(Found on the Supergirl Comic Box commentary blog)

JLE! JLE! JLE! (and Buffy, Terror Titans and Supergirl Cosmic Adventures)

I got round to reading JLE stuff again. It’s still very good and is still making me chortle. Particular favourites have been issues 20 and 24. Number 20 featured Basil Fawlty as an inept British hero named The Beefeater – complete with ridiculous traditional regalia – who managed to blow up the embassy. Number 24 featured Tremors style giant earthworms controlled via the medium of a massive tuning fork. Yeah that’s right, a TUNING FORK. To top this off, Captain Atom destroys one giant worm by diving down it’s gullet and exploding him from the inside. Gross, yet pretty darn cool.
I’m also loving the cat, and the issue in which the cat was introduced, the number of which I cannot recall right now.

Power Girl is a very angry woman in this, which initially we were led to believe was because all the men were letching at her. Apparently the real reason is that the chemicals, or artificial sweetener in all the diet soda she was drinking was affecting her womanly superpowered body and so giving her the rage. Similar to Dr Light having an allergic reaction and going all moody. This revelation led to a detailed discussion and a couple of issues looking at what it means to be a woman and what a woman's power is. Yeah I know, very odd. It didn't really work and came across very cringeworthy, maybe it's cos of Kara's I hate teh menz themed anger. Possibly that was just the diet soda talking. She's definitely more interesting without the rage.

Oh yeah, and Hal Jordan turned up for 3 issues. Can anyone tell me why his ring didn't work on an earth based monster? Cthon was it's name.

Then there’s adverts. Specifically this advert:
What the fuck??? Did anyone ever eat this? Did it taste as horrible as it looks? And what the fuck does brand sweetened mean? Is that code for really cheap sugar? Or does it mean twice as sugary as your average breakfast cereal?
Christ, who has marshmallows for breakfast anyway?! Y'all must have been bouncing off the walls after that.

Spoilers now ahead for Buffy #22, Terror Titans # 5 and Supergirl Cosmic Adventures # 3
Buffy # 22
Wow, that cover art really looks like Kennedy. It’s got her expression just right, the mouth and the eyebrow are spot on.
This issue was made of so much awesome. Vampire stuffed toy kittys coming to (un)life and jumping down your throat to suck out your blood from the inside!!!
A nice pep talk from Kennedy to Satsu about how Buffy isn’t gonna turn gay. Although this did seem to imply that Satsu and Kennedy are the only two lesbian slayers in the army, which seems kind of odd.
And a marriage proposal in the letters column! Oh but that was so sweet, I hope she says yes. There will be updates on the Buffy section of the Darkhorse website and I for one, will definitely be checking to find out the news.

Supergirl Cosmic Adventures in the 8th grade #3
This continues with the cute. Favourite line? “Oh no! The meteor energy and the kryptonite combined to turn me into pure cheese! I’m too delicious to live!”
In my mind, the meteor granting everyone different superpowers is a definite nod to Smallville. Me likes.

Terror Titans #5
Maybe I’m just really tired today but I’ve got no bloody idea what’s going on with this mini anymore. I thought the Dark Side club was tying into Final Crisis (what with the name and all it seemed like a reasonable assumption). But it seems now that the real motivation behind the Clock King’s action is that he finds it all amusing. But I still don’t’ know what he’s doing! I think his new minions who have been fighting in the arena are going out to create havoc upon the earth, but havoc doing what exactly? And where? And it wasn’t exactly clear what Rose was going to do when she busted her way out. It doesn’t make sense and my brain now hurts. I’ll re read the lot when the final one is out next week and we’ll see what I make of it.

I also got Superman Beyond part 2 but haven’t read it yet. I expect I’ll need a run up to it because I think it will be quite dense. Hopefully it will make FC # 7 clearer. I did like FC, and FC Revelations but was rather confused about some aspects.
FC Revelations featured a VERY Bad Ass Power Walk from Renee and Helena. I shall try to scan it in at work and post up the panel, along with the Peej/Terra slashy moment from the Terra mini. Just because I like it.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

My take on topical news items of the day

So recently, (Sunday? Saturday? Monday?) there was breaking news about a memo which had been sent round to all female Bank of England staff, prescribing a very specific and dare I say it traditional, dress code. It stated things like women should wear make up at all times, wear heeled shoes (but not higher than 2 inches), wear skirts and not trousers, and do not under any circumstances wear ankle chains or they will be mistaken for prostitutes. All this stuff must be followed so that women look professional and increase their chances of success in their job.

On Radio 4 on Monday morning they had a lady from the Fawcett society explain why this memo was a load of offensive crap, and also Trinny from Trinny and Susannah giving her two cents. I didn’t quite follow what Trinny had to say as it was too early in the morning and I was groggy, but I believe she was talking about how clothes etc can lift your mood, increase your confidence and affect how others perceive you.

Now if that is what she was stating (and someone correct me if I’m wrong) then on the surface I agree with it, she’s right, clothes and appearance do do all that. But that is not the issue here; the issue is that an employer is allegedly (see later*) prescribing a very specific and traditional dress code that ties into gender norms and views about what is acceptable for women to wear, in order that they look professional and will be taken seriously so being able to advance in their career.

It intimates that if you don’t do the above then you won’t be successful. This in turns reinforces the view that women’s value lies in their looks - if we do not present ourselves in a conventional and acceptable manner, that is, conforming to a standard idea of what is pretty, then we won’t be successful. Nevermind what our performance or quality of work is like, if you don’t dress yourself up for the male (and often female) gaze, none of that matters.

If, heaven forbid, women were to wear 3 or 4 inch heels to work, or wore too much makeup (if anyone can decide on what too much is), would they be viewed as too sexual? If they don’t cover up their boobs to the neck would their very bodies be deemed to be too sexual (merely by existing)? Or if a woman chose to wear no make up, does this mean she’s not playing the game? What if she doesn’t remove facial hair? Obviously she doesn’t want male attention, she must be a dyke.

All this make up and heel stuff, it relates to women as sexual commodities – you’ve got to tread a very thin and precarious line to be acceptable.

Either of the above 2 scenarios upset our perceptions of what the ideal woman is like. It threatens our cosy little world where men achieve and women are eyed up.

This may seem like I’m reading too much into what is just a professional code of conduct, sent round by the company bosses. Except that nothing was sent to the men in the company – not that I expect men to receive instructions on makeup and heels, but an appropriate equivalent would be to filter down instructions re hair length, matching socks and ill fitting clothes. This means that whoever wrote and devised the note is policing women’s appearances only, and that’s where it gets fucked up and feeds into the issues I have talked about above. *If* the note came down from top management then I think that’s sexual harassment.

*I say if because on an article the F Word did today covering this, one of the commenters posted a response to an email he’d sent Bank of England bosses and it read thusly:

"Dear Mr Woosey

Thank you for your enquiry and comments on this matter.

Can I state categorically that media stories about a Bank of England dress code or advice about dress for women are wholly inaccurate and misleading. The Bank has issued no such advice, nor is there a memo from the Bank on the issue.

The facts are that an informal lunchtime gathering was organised by a women's staff group at which an external company presented their ideas about building confidence. The session was provided free and had nothing to do with the Bank's management. A list of ideas about dress was circulated by the consultant. Most Bank staff will not have seen this and those that have are free to treat it as they wish. Some members of our staff might hold views similar to your own. Like many organisations, the Bank simply requires staff to wear smart business attire.

I hope that this clarifies the situation following the unfortunate media reporting of this matter.

With kind regards

Malcolm Shemmonds

Public Information & Enquiries Group"

If that’s true, thank god for that. There is a world of difference between having the CEO sanction a dress code that refers only women thus playing into crappy stereotypes about women’s perceived sexual status, and a confidence building seminar on how to dress for success. My initial points still stand, all the advice given does play into very traditional gender roles, but it’s about the difference in power relations. This seminar was optional, women chose to attend and they will choose whether to take the advice or not. I for one hope they don’t because I think it’s bullshit, but it isn’t an official mandate and as such is a lot less dodgy.

I now want to see the Bank of England issue a statement along the lines of
“We don’t give a stuff how our female employees dress, we care about their performance. Feel free to be hairy legged and flat footed and make up free if you so desire! Or cake on the slap, wear a short skirt and continue to produce good work! If any of our clients have a problem we’ll give them a good talking to!”

Think it’ll happen? Yeah right. I can dream.

Things I has bought this month

If you accept that a month can last 5 weeks. I’m a little late writing this up so am extending to cover the period from Christmas to today. My initial thoughts as to my spending are that I am actually pretty crap at not buying stuff. I appear to have got quite a lot of things this last month, but they seem to be mostly consumables, and in the most are not objects that sit around gathering dust, unused. Here goes:

Comics, both new and second hand from a friend.
A new zip for one of my (bought for 20 quid off a friend) boots – necessary as the boot was unuseable but otherwise in perfect condition. The decision was between throwing out a pair of very good, very comfortable and very warm boots, or getting the zip replaced. Granted the new zip cost me £24, and if the other one goes I’ll have spent £58. I could buy new boots for less than that but they wouldn’t be very good quality, they wouldn’t fit as well and it would just be wasteful. So I opted to get the zip replaced, and man was I glad about this when the snow started yesterday.
Train tickets.
2 tickets for the Victoria and Albert museum. I’m going to see an exhibition of Russian court clothes, spanning two centuries. I’m very excited about this.
3 packets of bleach – 2 have been used, one is sitting there waiting till my hair grows and will be used to redo the roots.
Blue hair dye. Unused. This was a wasteful thing as I now have no intention to use it. In an attempt to rectify this situation I will give it to a friend.
Beer. Not so much beer as last month though (my liver cries hooray!).
A new mobile phone battery from an independent trader. This purchase turned out to be pointless as it ended up that my then current phone was buggered, and not the battery. This then led to me getting…..
A new phone and being thoroughly niged by the guy at 3mobile. My new phone isn’t as good as my old one and the camera is crappy. And the memory is miniscule. This will mean I will have to buy a memory card if I go on holiday because 40 photos is fuck all. Still, the phone was free.
£45 on a replacement filling. God I hate going to the dentist. This was to replace an old filling that fell out on new year’s day, and may have to have a crown attached to it at a later date. My teeth suck ass.
Lunches at work
Taxi ride home from a pub.
Diva magazine. This was interesting, (as per usual). It was the love issue and had an article about ‘the men we’d go straight for’. There followed a discussion about how and why some lesbians fancy men, how this was received within the community and how some individual lesbians felt about liking men. My initial thought was duh, you’re bisexual, stop hiding. However, that’s a bit flippant because the article was basically talking about the differences between being culturally Lesbian and your sexual orientation being lesbian, without actually stating it as so. Incidentally I’m going to be getting rid of my Diva magazines (from the last 2 or 3 years) if anyone wants them please email me at s_green24 at yahoo dot co dot uk.
2 books – Fontamara by Ignazio Silone and a women’s press one – A piece of mine by J California Cooper. Both second hand, one from a charity shop, one from a second hand bookshop in the City. The Fontamara one is very good.
A bra. I now have one that fits, hurrah.
A notepad. It’s gonna be my food diary that will encourage me to fit easily into bridesmaid dress for my sister’s wedding in March. I need the motivation.
Dental floss – to reduce the chances of further fillings. Yeah right.
Anti histamines
A hair cut (been waiting 3 months for that)
Metal Hammer – a UK magazine about heavy metal. This shouldn’t have been allowed but I buckled because I got a free CD with it. After the success of last year’s free CD I was craving some new music and I have no idea where else to look to source new good metal. This CD was well worth getting as there are several bands on it I like – Deathstars, Lacuna Coil, Exodus (very very fast), Nevermore and The Hollow Earth Theory.
Buffy seasons 1 to 7 on DVD, from ebay, secondhand but unused – an unwanted Christmas present apparently. I have my doubts as to whether I’ll receive it as the seller seems rather clueless, we’ll see. I justified this by saying that it will free up so much shelf space – 7 seasons on VHS take up a lot of room. I will give the videos to a friend, who will watch them, and I know I’ll watch the DVDs.

So yeah, I think I’ve bought a lot of things. However, they are mostly useable, or reuseable, and none of it is junk as such – they won’t sit around and gather dust. I haven’t managed to save any more cash, but I have got to the end of the month with a few quid in my bank account, which is a bloody miracle I tell you.

I was wondering whether it was responsible in a recession to actively try to not buy things. Having said that, I’ve still got the same amount of cash going out, it’s just that it’s now spread over a full month, not the first 2.5 weeks of the month, which is making life easier for me, and it’s being spent on different things. Must reduce urge to collect.

I do still think I prefer buying from the independent stores rather than big chain shops or department stores. With new redundancies and companies going into administration every day I think it will be harder for the sole traders or SMEs to stay afloat, and they bring a welcome richness and variety to the retail landscape. I’m sick of city and town centres having the same old high street shops everywhere you go. The areas end up looking identikit and that really is soul destroying.

I don’t think I’m in any way morally superior for not buying so much junk, I feel better in myself, less sordid, but I don’t think I’m better than anyone else. I do think that this pledge of mine is forcing me to have a more in depth look at why I want to purchase items - what will I get out of them and what do I hope to achieve with owning it.