Pot Noodle – It’s not for Girls – so boycott them!

First published New Statesman 15-05-2013 http://www.newstatesman.com/lifestyle/2013/05/food-its-not-girls

Food: It’s Not For Girls

Pot Noodle joined the list of brands which seem determined to drive away women. They should realise that ironic hipster sexism is still sexism.
By Rhiannon and Holly Published 15 May 2013 11:33

Pot Noodle

Yesterday, the beautiful city of Newcastle – hometown of one half of the Vagenda, both halves of Ant and Dec, and the endless source of entertainment that was Byker Grove – was marred by the appearance of a terrible visitor: the Piri-Piri Chicken Van.

What is the Piri-Piri Chicken Van, we hear you cry. Well, it basically does what it says on the flimsy foil lid, being as it is a van launching a new flavour of Pot Noodle here in the lucky, lucky UK. Pot Noodle and its compatriots haven’t exactly been known for their sensitivity in the past when it comes to gender issues (it is, after all, the “slag of all snacks”), but this latest incarnation of their marketing strategy really does take the preservative-laden biscuit. “Peel the top off a hottie!” is the slogan, plastered alongside two closely aligned Pot Noodle lids that are deliberately juxtaposed to simulate breasts. And if that reference was too subtle for you, there’s a half-naked girl on the photo beside it, just waiting to have her top peeled off by the slathering consumer who’s in the mood for a walk down – in their words – “Easy Street”. It’s enough to make you crawl back to the Iceland store, apologising for any offence you saw in “Because mums are heroes” and begging them to employ you permanently in their managerial scheme.

Of course, we’re not the first ones to raise objections to this questionable campaign. One unfortunate young lady known only as Emma dared to stick her head above the parapet on the Piri-Piri Chicken Van’s Facebook page – prompting a response from official Pot Noodle social media that she didn’t understand “tongue-in-cheek fun for all” but “sorry you feel that way”. Our own attempts to contact Pot Noodle PR resulted in an email that similarly told us they were “sorry if they had caused offence”, which, as anyone who has been forced to apologise against their will for a misdemeanor which they still view as entirely justified knows, is the biggest cop-out apology known to humanity.

Now, we all know that “hipster sexism” has been all the rage ever since American Apparel first launched their “now open” campaign, and it has been operating alongside the recent “new wave of feminism” as ostensible proof that we’re really not needed. We’re past all that now, you see. All this sexism stuff in the media might well be exactly the same as it was 50 years ago, but this time around it’s ironic. So can you leave us to stare at some tits in peace? You’re making too much noise at the back.

Except, of course, there’s nothing all that hip about Pot Noodle. Pot Noodle is Lad Culture in snack form, an edible Page Three; drooling, retrograde sexism, and any PR exec who tries to tell us otherwise (Hi, Alex!) can jog on. Pot noodle aren’t cleverly challenging sexist stereotypes by mocking them – they’re perpetuating those stereotypes, one “hot bird” at a time.

Such a lack of imagination in advertising is enough to make anyone as bored and jaded as a steaming hot model hired to “sex up” a pot of instant noodles. Is this really all that the collective human imagination can give? In a month where Cambridge University students have been celebrating the end of the long long-held tradition of bikini-clad women jelly-wrestling in a paddling pool to (mostly male) spectators to signal the end of their annual exams (yes, really), did nobody over at Pot Noodle raise a tentative hand when “Peel the top off a hottie” came to the drawing board? Or are they all actually, seriously a bunch of back-slapping misogynists who were raised in a vacuum and presumably laughed raucously at one customer’s response to brave old Emma on Facebook – “Feminist, get back in the kitchen and make me a Pot Noodle”? If so, then maybe they could use that line for their next product launch.

The failure of executives from the macho world of advertising to gauge the public mood is nothing new (just look at what happened to Femfresh last year), but surely it’s high time that they start listening. From Pot Noodle’s campaign, you’d think that no one with a vagina had ever ingested one, when in fact Holly once felt so strongly about her right to consume one that, after being shouted at during her snack break, she quit her job over it. Is she to be condemned to the fluorescent umaminess of supernoodles? It looks like it.

And thus, Pot Noodles have been added to the list of foods that women the country over are seemingly not permitted to consume. A list which includes McCoys (Man Crisps), Yorkie Bars (Not for girls), Irn Bru (weird preoccupation with mum’s boobs), Burger King (blowjob imagery) Weetabix (girls can’t be superheroes) and, thanks to the date-rapey tendencies of their advertising, microwaveable burger manufacturers Rustlers.

Are these companies, along with Gwyneth Paltrow, part of some kind of global conspiracy to keep the female sex hungry? Because, from where we’re standing, the only food we’re allowed to eat is a green smoothie and a fucking insubstantial Cadbury’s Crispello.

It’s all very well blaming magazines for our current food neurosis with their championing of emaciated bodies and their diet tips, but food manufacturers are some of the worst culprits for gendered advertising. It’s about time someone brought them up to date. The worst thing about the Pot Noodle campaign is its predatory sense of entitlement, as though ‘peeling the top off a hottie’ is as simple a transaction as picking a snack pot off the shelf. According to Alex from Pot Noodle, this is “not intended to demean women in any way”. “As a brand targeting a male, youth audience, we do push the boundaries”, he emailed from the 1970s.

The solution, of course, to this kind of thing is a easy one: don’t let anyone who eats Pot Noodle take your top off, ever. A philosophy that we’re sure many of you lived by anyway. As you were.

Girl guides sign ‘No More Page 3’ campaign

Original article from The Telegraph http://www.telegraph.co.uk/women/womens-life/9979877/Girl-guides-sign-No-More-Page-3-campaign.html?utm_source=supporter_message&utm_medium=email
 

Girl guides sign ‘No More Page 3’ campaign

Girl Guides have thrown their support behind the ‘No More Page 3’ campaign, in a bid to stop the perpetuation of the idea that “women are objects” in a family newspaper.

Image from the No More Page 3 Facebook campaign page.

Image from the No More Page 3 Facebook campaign page.

Girlguiding UK has signed the campaign to try and force the hand of Rupert Murdoch, who hinted a few weeks ago that he is considering ending the publication of photographs of topless models on page 3 of The Sun – which he owns, as chief executive of News Corporation.

The decision was made for the UK’s leading charity for girls and women, which has more than half a million members, by its advocate panel – which is made up of 16 girls between the ages of 14 to 26 who decide what issues matter to their fellow Guides.

Katie Wormald, 17, a senior Guide and a member of the advocate panel, told The Telegraph that their members felt strongly about the need to stop Page 3 as soon as possible.

“I believe growing up seeing images of naked women in a family newspaper makes young women feel insecure and that they cannot be successful unless they are attractive,” she explained.

“A poll we did recently of our members showed that two thirds of them believe that women are still judged more on their looks than their ability and this needs to change.”

Having now signed the campaign, which has nearly 90,000 signatures, Girlguiding UK has sent a letter to The Sun’s editor, Dominic Mohan, explaining why the organisation believe Page 3 should be scrapped.

The letter says: “We know that The Sun is a family newspaper. Anyone can pick it up, turn to page 3, and think that it is normal for young women to be treated as objects. We feel this is just wrong and has to stop.

As a young woman in UK society, it is impossible to nurture your ambitions if you are constantly told that you are not the same as your male equivalent. This is what Page 3 does. It is disrespectful and embarrassing.

We would like The Sun, as a leading UK newspaper, to promote positive role models to inspire girls and young women and help everyone to understand that women are never for sale.

We hope that the voice of Girlguiding members, combined with the rest of the signatories on the No More Page 3 petition, will convince you to finally take bare boobs out of The Sun.”

Julie Bentley, chief executive of Girlguiding added: “Giving girls a voice on issues that they care about is one of Girlguiding’s most important values. We are very proud that young women in Guiding are choosing to speak out and play a part in building the society they want to live in.”

Lucy Holmes set up the No More Page 3 campaign last year. Writing for Telegraph Wonder Women she said of her work: “I felt strongly that when the largest female image in the most widely read newspaper in the country is a young woman in her knickers, there for men to look at, it doesn’t send out a respectful message about a woman’s place in society. It says ‘what society values about you first and foremost is how sexy men find you in your pants when you’re about 20’.”

 

Girl guides sign ‘No More Page 3’ campaign

Girl Guides have thrown their support behind the ‘No More Page 3’ campaign, in a bid to stop the perpetuation of the idea that “women are objects” in a family newspaper.

Image from the No More Page 3 Facebook campaign page.

Image from the No More Page 3 Facebook campaign page.

Girlguiding UK has signed the campaign to try and force the hand of Rupert Murdoch, who hinted a few weeks ago that he is considering ending the publication of photographs of topless models on page 3 of The Sun – which he owns, as chief executive of News Corporation.

The decision was made for the UK’s leading charity for girls and women, which has more than half a million members, by its advocate panel – which is made up of 16 girls between the ages of 14 to 26 who decide what issues matter to their fellow Guides.

Katie Wormald, 17, a senior Guide and a member of the advocate panel, told The Telegraph that their members felt strongly about the need to stop Page 3 as soon as possible.

“I believe growing up seeing images of naked women in a family newspaper makes young women feel insecure and that they cannot be successful unless they are attractive,” she explained.

“A poll we did recently of our members showed that two thirds of them believe that women are still judged more on their looks than their ability and this needs to change.”

Having now signed the campaign, which has nearly 90,000 signatures, Girlguiding UK has sent a letter to The Sun’s editor, Dominic Mohan, explaining why the organisation believe Page 3 should be scrapped.

The letter says: “We know that The Sun is a family newspaper. Anyone can pick it up, turn to page 3, and think that it is normal for young women to be treated as objects. We feel this is just wrong and has to stop.

As a young woman in UK society, it is impossible to nurture your ambitions if you are constantly told that you are not the same as your male equivalent. This is what Page 3 does. It is disrespectful and embarrassing.

We would like The Sun, as a leading UK newspaper, to promote positive role models to inspire girls and young women and help everyone to understand that women are never for sale.

We hope that the voice of Girlguiding members, combined with the rest of the signatories on the No More Page 3 petition, will convince you to finally take bare boobs out of The Sun.”

Julie Bentley, chief executive of Girlguiding added: “Giving girls a voice on issues that they care about is one of Girlguiding’s most important values. We are very proud that young women in Guiding are choosing to speak out and play a part in building the society they want to live in.”

Lucy Holmes set up the No More Page 3 campaign last year. Writing for Telegraph Wonder Women she said of her work: “I felt strongly that when the largest female image in the most widely read newspaper in the country is a young woman in her knickers, there for men to look at, it doesn’t send out a respectful message about a woman’s place in society. It says ‘what society values about you first and foremost is how sexy men find you in your pants when you’re about 20’.”

Cheerleader must compensate school that told her to clap ‘rapist’

Original post from the Independent newspaper website http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/cheerleader-must-compensate-school-that-told-her-to-clap-rapist-2278522.html

Cheerleader must compensate school that told her to clap ‘rapist’

A teenage girl who was dropped from her high school’s cheerleading squad after refusing to chant the name of a basketball player who had sexually assaulted her must pay compensation of $45,000 (£27,300) after losing a legal challenge against the decision.

The United States Supreme Court on Monday declined to hear a review of the case brought by the woman, who is known only as HS. Lower courts had ruled that she was speaking for the school, rather than for herself, when serving on a cheerleading squad – meaning that she had no right to stay silent when coaches told her to applaud.

She was 16 when she said she had been raped at a house party attended by dozens of fellow students from Silsbee High School, in south-east Texas. One of her alleged assailants, a student athlete called Rakheem Bolton, was arrested, with two other young men.

In court, Bolton pleaded guilty to the misdemeanour assault of HS. He received two years of probation, community service, a fine and was required to take anger-management classes. The charge of rape was dropped, leaving him free to return to school and take up his place on the basketball team.

Four months later, in January 2009, HS travelled to one of Silsbee High School’s basketball games in Huntsville. She joined in with the business of leading cheers throughout the match. But when Bolton was about to take a free throw, the girl decided to stand silently with her arms folded.

“I didn’t want to have to say his name and I didn’t want to cheer for him,” she later told reporters. “I just didn’t want to encourage anything he was doing.”

Richard Bain, the school superintendent in the sport-obsessed small town, saw things differently. He told HS to leave the gymnasium. Outside, he told her she was required to cheer for Bolton. When the girl said she was unwilling to endorse a man who had sexually assaulted her, she was expelled from the cheerleading squad.

The subsequent legal challenge against Mr Bain’s decision perhaps highlights the seriousness with which Texans take cheerleading and high school sports, which can attract crowds in the tens of thousands.

HS and her parents instructed lawyers to pursue a compensation claim against the principal and the School District in early 2009. Their lawsuit argued that HS’s right to exercise free expression had been violated when she was instructed to applaud her attacker. But two separate courts ruled against her, deciding that a cheerleader freely agrees to act as a “mouthpiece” for a institution and therefore surrenders her constitutional right to free speech. In September last year, a federal appeals court upheld those decisions and announced that HS must also reimburse the school sistrict $45,000, for filing a “frivolous” lawsuit against it.

“As a cheerleader, HS served as a mouthpiece through which [the school district] could disseminate speech – namely, support for its athletic teams,” the appeals court decision says. “This act constituted substantial interference with the work of the school because, as a cheerleader, HS was at the basketball game for the purpose of cheering, a position she undertook voluntarily.”

The family’s lawyer said the ruling meanst that students exercising their right of free speech can end up punished for refusing to follow “insensitive and unreasonable directions”.

15 Year Old Rape Victim to be publicly flogged

It’s hard to believe, but a 15-year-old rape survivor has been sentenced to be whipped 100 times in public! Let’s put an end to this lunacy by hitting the Maldives government where it hurts: the tourism industry.

The girl’s stepfather is accused of raping her for years and murdering the baby she bore. Now the court says she must be flogged for “sex outside marriage”! President Waheed of the Maldives is already feeling global pressure on this, and we can force him to save this girl and change the law to spare other victims this cruel fate. This is how we can end the War on Women – by standing up every time an outrage like this happens.

Tourism is the big earner for the Maldives elite, including government ministers. Let’s build a million-strong petition to President Waheed this week, then threaten the islands’ reputation through hard-hitting ads in travel magazines and online until he steps in to save her and abolish this outrageous law.

http://www.avaaz.org/en/maldives_global/?cGWzVbb

http://www.change.org/en-GB/petitions/president-mohammed-waheed-hassan-prevent-public-flogging-of-15-year-old-rape-victim#

 

There are no grey areas in rape

Article reproduced from The Independent: Joan Smith, Sunday, 8 July 2012
original article at http://www.independent.co.uk/opinion/commentators/joan-smith/joan-smith-there-are-no-grey-areas-in-rape-7922369.html#

 

Few subjects are as contentious, or as poorly understood, as rape. Blaming the victim is common,
as is endlessly finding excuses to “explain” why some men brutalise women. Three months ago,
people used social networking sites to abuse – and name – a 19-year-old woman raped by the
professional footballer Ched Evans, who had just been sent to prison for five years. Last week, at
Cambridge Crown Court, a schoolboy was spared a custodial sentence for raping a five-year-old
girl after he blamed his “hormones” and the judge blamed “the world and society”.
Most rape cases are horrible, this one particularly so. The boy, 14 at the time, was known by the
girl’s parents who asked him to babysit while they went to watch an older child in a school play.
On their return, they paid him £10 and he went; it wasn’t until the little girl was getting ready for
bed that she told her father what had happened. On Monday, the judge imposed a three-year
community sentence with a supervision requirement on the boy, leaving the victim’s parents to
worry about the possibility that she will bump into him on the street. The girl’s mother said the
sentence sent the “wrong message” about rape, and could deter other victims from coming
forward.
She is right. Counsellors and campaigners talk about “myths” which blur the definition of rape and
encourage misconceptions, such as the idea that attackers are “provoked” by the victim’s clothing
or behaviour. Both the courts and the media repeatedly look away from the individual assailant,
whose responsibility for the crime gets lost in a welter of excuses. Anyone who rapes a
five-year-old is by definition a danger to girls and women, who are entitled to expect protection
from the criminal justice system.
The judge mentioned the boy’s use of internet pornography, claiming his exposure at a young age
had ended in “tragedy” – a strange choice of word for a vicious assault – but a 14-year-old boy is
old enough to know that forcing someone to have sex is a crime. If he goes ahead and does it
anyway, he belongs in a subset of sexual predators who will have violent relationships with women
when they grow up.
The case underlines the need for education about sexual violence, both to protect potential victims
and to identify boys with aggressive attitudes to sex. Parents and teachers need to be on the
outlook for such young men, and challenge their behaviour at an early stage.
It doesn’t happen often enough. Everyone thinks rape is a bad thing in theory, but real-life cases
are very different. Total strangers rush to excuse rapists on Twitter, while no one believed the
victims of the black-cab rapist, John Worboys, leaving him free to drug and rape more than a
hundred women in London over a period of years. We should worry about lenient sentences and
ambivalent public attitudes, which mean rapists aren’t sufficiently afraid of being condemned and
punished.
http://www.politicalblonde.com; twitter.com/@polblonde

MPs call for stalking to be made a specific crime

Original article appears in The Telegraph and can be seen at http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/law-and-order/9064903/MPs-call-for-stalking-to-be-made-a-specific-crime.html

A new offence of stalking should be created in order to put the rights of victims first, MPs and peers urge today.

Clare Bernal was shot dead by her former lover, a Slovak army deserter

Clare Bernal was shot dead by her stalker.
Martin Beckford

By , Home Affairs Editor

7:00AM GMT 07 Feb 2012

An all-party Parliamentary group says the existing law against harassment is not fit for purpose, leading to light sentences in the few cases where prosecutions are brought.

Its report also claims that victims of persistent stalkers are being let down, with many believing that police do not take them seriously.

Elfyn Llwyd, the barrister and Plaid Cymru MP who chaired the independent inquiry, said: “Changing laws and strengthening guidelines are both essential so that victims get the support they need and perpetrators receive appropriate sanctions and treatment.”

But he added that the attitudes of many in the criminal justice system are “stuck in the dark ages”, seeing stalking as a “joke” and believing its victims are “lucky to get the attention”.

“The reality is very different, as the victims’ brave and traumatic evidence reminded us. ‘Stalking is mental rape’, as one observed, a subject you would not joke about.”