Everyone loves a pretty face. But fake is the new gorgeous. You’ve seen them all around you, young women, not just made up but faked up. It’s impossible to tell if they’re good-looking through the layers of make-up in unearthly hues, sometimes sickly yellowish tints. They don’t want anyone to see what they really look like, do they have really bad skin, are they secretly ‘ugly’? What is the attraction of the artificial, of fakery? Do the men in their lives like it, must we assume that they do? Perhaps it’s egalitarian, democratic, a template on which the face is drawn. Better to be judged on your cosmetic skills than your genetic make-up, or minor imperfections. No more freckles; plucked and polished, ‘real’ women are hairless, yes you can be ‘perfect’.

What drives it? Why is the fake desirable, is it literally desirable? Or is it conforming to a celebrity, airbrushed standard? Don’t *real* men prefer *real* women? Though sooner or later, perhaps it’s already happened, men will be faking themselves up.

Perhaps it’s protection – you can’t see or judge me, what business is it of yours what I look like? But in the process surely they lose sight of themselves, only unadorned while asleep, taken in and imprisoned by their own ‘improved’ appearance. Hopefully, it is entirely their own choice, it would be better that way. But is it down to men? What are men’s expectations, what do men look for – individuality or conformity? Someone real, or who resembles a mannequin? Or is it the fashion industry and airbrushed images of women in magazine? Where even the old look young. Though it’s rare to see pictures of older women, and they too have made themselves into impossible versions of themselves.

Yes, we must avoid reality, there is no place for getting old, saggy, wrinkled, spotty, blotchy, all the inconvenience of being real! Why be real when you can be fake? Someone has a lot to answer for! Is it one person or yet another example of market-forces. The market serves no one but the market, it has no care or concern, it doesn’t exist to make you better, or ‘prettier’, it just has better and more compelling ways of extracting money from you. Tempting as it might be to wash off all that pointless and counter-productive make-up, change needs to be made elsewhere. The Campaign for Real Ale worked, perhaps it’s time for the Campaign for Real Women. Maybe the ‘fakery of the face’ is the market fighting against feminism, crapping all over those important messages of self-worth – there is no ugly, you look OK, gorgeousness is inside, not a face powder.

We’re all responsible, we all contribute to market forces. But, the market has a runaway momentum. We need conversation instead of commerce, dialogue not dollars, freedom not fakery. Can we stop the rot? National No Make-up Day? What do men need to do? I can tell you what to do but you need to embrace the real for yourself, seek the real, be real, look for real and say ‘Fuck to fakery’.


Picking on Women

So many people have an opinion on women – what they should do, or not, what they should wear, their role – they’re less keen to say how men should be, what it means to be a man, why men are standing in the way of women. The mindless yobbo who rips off a woman’s hijab in the street, or spits at her, might want to tell us that Muslim women are oppressed, if he can string two words together. It’s an extreme example, but it materialises in more civilised parts of society, the people who bang on about women’s oppression but don’t talk to women, who never lift a finger to reduce oppression. Female politicians have gone on record recently to tell us that it is endemic in the Houses of Parliament.

Of course, no one can pick on some women, like Wonder Woman and Cat Woman, male superheroes would need to look out if they were on the wrong side of those two!

There is of course clear sexism and perhaps the less clear misogyny which underlies it. Some of this is driven by privilege and inflated ideas of male importance, usually with a foundation on some pretty serious male inadequacy – how many ‘important’ men who demean or have no place for women at their level are dependent on the efforts of ‘support’ women who organise them. Some of this problem is structural – male thinking institutionalised – men can often be structural while women are more importantly relational. The structural excludes while the relational includes. Women often have a genius for working around the structures, leaving men to do the ‘important’ things while they get on with the *real* work.

What kind of changes do we need to see women running things more and put some flesh on the bones of equality of opportunity? Women bishops is a good example – Priests and Bishops are already persuaded that women Bishops should be appointed. However, the drag of activist opinionated laypeople has prevailed so far. This is why we need to do more with equality and *exterminate* the excluded areas. Why should religious institutions have an equality get out? Why should there be provision for those who have a problem with women? Surely there is a superhero answer to this one, the Queen as Supreme Governor (Super Governor), the most senior woman in the Church could lay down the law, after all it’s not as if God is running the Church! Anyone who stands against women Bishops could be sent to the Tower, or forced to attend a week’s Equal Opps training.

It all shows how some people let their twisted brains override reality, where their hardline opinions are self-reinforcing, interpreting the world through their pricks. It also shows how structures can be bound and gagged by privilege. A structure can only fight against reality for so long, it’s the ignorant who maintain it. It was 200 years after the anti-slavery victory in the USA that the Black Civil Rights movement brought about real change. Inhumanity and inequality needs something special to challenge it, in the meantime a lot of people need to be embarrassed, straightened out and brought face to face with their own problems without scapegoating and oppressing others.

Jesus and Homophobia

Posted from a friend

‘Homophobia’ – ‘unreasonable fear of, hatred or intolerance towards, homosexuals’.

Jesus says, in the ‘Sermon on the Mount’:

“Beware of practicing your piety before others in order to be seen by them; for then you have no reward from your Father in heaven.” He could have said do not provoke or oppress others with your religion.

“In *everything* do to others as you would have them do to you”

 “Do not judge, so that you may not be judged. For with the judgement you make you will be judged”

For Jesus, religion is not pushy and has self-critique at its core, it asks ‘how does the other feel?’

Some Christians oppose homosexuality as a central part of their lived faith.  But who would Jesus hate or be intolerant towards? No one!

Jesus challenges us to be better, loving. We follow someone who always spoke wisely and never said anything about homosexuality!

You’re the Problem! (or Beasts in Bradford)

This follows on from ‘Why can’t they be more like us?’ [not published yet].

Some people involved in ‘community engagement’ sound as if they are still living in the colonial era. They say they want to engage with those who are different, yet have a conventional way of going about it – culturally insensitive, or just bloody insensitive! Asking, ‘is this group OK?’ – just like government and its false and fickle ways. They wet themselves with excitement when they find fringe figures who chime with their way of thinking, and are impatient with the mainstream majority who, after all, are ‘not like us’. They fret about whether other groups are in conflict with the usual, but not always fully representative, bodies, and even say the dreaded, ‘can’t they see that they need to come to us as one group’. This is the language of old-fashioned white men.

Who can begin to understand these dinosaurs? Why should people be easy, relationships not ‘complicated’ and understanding not worth working at? Ego has a lot to do with it – ‘I do understand the other’, giving the impression of knowing them better than they know themselves, while having zero self-awareness, because, after all, it’s not about them, it’s about the other. A superhero must be in control of his/her ego, or it can be their undoing. Puny mortals with inflated ideas don’t seem to know this. Like great beasts, these  paragons of community engagement trumpet and rumble through the jungle disturbing all those around them. What does all the noise and crashing hide? Apart from their insensitivity and boorish manners.

I have been struck by the hurt graciousness of those on the receiving end, the incomprehension and, above all, the openness of those so often accused of being ‘closed’. And a recognition, through these others, that they see me as different – listening, caring, impartial – perhaps as a ‘hero’ who might straighten things out and bring some transformation. I feel it in the pain I have as I share in their experience of being observed and written about. The deepest superheroes, and perhaps the most effective, are those who have felt their own pain and connect with the pain of others. I’m convinced, but not common, in the realisation that we need to keep it personal and be in touch with feeling uncomfortable. And that some people are wrong (even if their motives may be good), we follow them at our peril, if their crashing has left anything to follow. The new, not the old, must be the way forward, in the hope that it achieves the ‘if only’ that has bedevilled old approaches. We must hope, or force, the old guard to see that the old ways have gone wrong and much wrong has been done.

Believe in Marriage? Let LGBT people have it too!

Hearing negative opinions about homosexuality is an occupational hazard …

It was a kryptonite moment. I was working the floor at an event and a woman (a little strange in this case) is telling me about ‘morality’. One group she had been with practically ripped her arm off to sign her homophobic anti-gay marriage petition. Missing the sweet opportunity to call her a *raging homophobe* I listened to her fawn over this uncompromising group who were better than her own lot, she hadn’t noticed they were pretty homophobic too. Anyway, this is for you lady …

‘It’s not marriage, stupid!’ You’re against gay marriage, what right do you have? No one objected to your so-called ‘straight marriage’. Bonding with conservatives to limit the rights of ordinary people, just like you, is a bad idea.

Nobody chose to be gay – ever asked a ‘straight’: ‘how, and when, did you decide to be heterosexual and what made you think it was a good moral choice? Did you consider that most paedophiles are straight, that many straight people don’t respect the right to choose of LGBT people?’ The only people I know who chose to be ‘straight’ were gay! Most of us just fall into being straight, society expects it. Though countercultural men in dresses in places of worship is an interesting one!

We weren’t born homophobic!

Some people are pretty dumb (duh!), especially when religion stops their brains from working, though we can’t give religion *all* the credit!. Some people’s moral sense is shaped by the ‘yuk’ factor (yes, it’s childish!). They weren’t born with a fully-functioning ‘yuk’ sensor (they weren’t born homophobic), they have learnt it, but not because they’ve learnt anything. Religion has a lot of influence here, with its homophobic positions. But the religious downer on gayness belongs to a community which didn’t fully support women’s right to choose and turned a blind eye to aggressive male (including sexual) behaviour. Not a good moral example!

If you really believed in marriage you’d let LGBT people have it too! But you don’t, you just want to impose conservative straightist views. You confuse the moral and the social, but you’re not the greatest of society-builders. You wouldn’t know a moral choice if it hit you. You’re immoral enough to label someone else’s private behaviour immoral when it doesn’t concern you. And you think you own marriage, how dumb is that?