Fox (n): carnivore of genus vulpes; crafty person; scavenger; (vb) to confuse; -ed (adj): to be drunk.

Thursday, 18 August 2011

More pictures like this, please.

ANOTHER A-level results day, another slew of pictures of photogenic young girls in not many summer clothes jumping around looking happy.

You don't see the ones who didn't get the grades they wanted. Tearful teens are in newspapers only when there's a school killing spree, generally. You also don't see the fat girls, the speccy ones, or the plain ones, who may be celebrating just as much but a picture of whom won't sell a single newspaper.

You don't see teenage boys either, although you can smell them a mile away: either they don't wash at all or drown themselves in Lynx. Spotty oiks don't take much of a picture, and anyway girls get better exam results. They also express emotion in photographs and boys, with the best will in the world, just don't.

It all adds up to a lot of well-intentioned people grumbling about sexist and slightly-pervy newspapers - tabloid and snoresheet - photographing barely-legal young women.

How dreadful of us. How appalling that millions of extra people will look at our websites today and buy the papers tomorrow to see those same pictures, keeping our struggling businesses afloat while telling themselves how bad it is that they are being forced to look at pretty girls in tiny shorts and my, what long hair they have!

But to be frank, it doesn't matter a damn.

Firstly because A-levels are like popularity - important when you're 18, and for the rest of your life you couldn't care less. And secondly because the sight of a happy teenage girl with a whole life of possibilities in front of her is one of the most magical things you'll ever see.

There aren't many countries where that happens. Europe, North America, Australasia, Japan. Those girls you'll see in the pictures are smiling because they can be anything they want to be. The right exam result means you can get into the right university, get the right degree, land a dream job.

In India if you're a girl you're lucky to survive to 18. In most of Africa school is an expensive luxury that comes a long way down a parent's list. In China a girl will probably be aborted if her parents can afford it, and dumped after she is born if they can't. In fact, while we're busy bewailing pictures of successful young kids in the newspapers covering our tiny, self-important part of the planet, there are 100million women in the rest of the world who have simply disappeared.

Let me say that again, because you skimmed over it a little quickly. One hundred million. The equivalent, if you're into comparisons, of the Holocaust sixteen times over. Or 66,000 Titanics sinking. Remember the Norway massacre a few weeks ago? Sixty-nine young people slaughtered. Well, imagine that happening every day for 3,835 years. Yeah. That many.

Boys outnumber girls, very slightly, when they're born. If they get a good diet and are lucky enough to live in a wealthy country like yours and mine - you're among the 30 per cent of the world with the internet, so you're ahead of the game - women will outlive men, for simple biological reasons. They are more resistant to disease, deal better with the sniffles, and are generally nails.

Except there are many parts of the world where males significantly outnumber women. These are in the parts where diet and disease would, naturally, mean things should be the other way around. But in Asia, the Middle East, Africa, girls who should have been born are missing. In these places they are more likely to die at every stage of their lives; they are more likely to be aborted, abandoned, to be denied medical care, to be abused, neglected, beaten and murdered.

In China alone there are 50million women who ought to be there, but just aren't.

Even if they survive in most of the world girls are seen as less deserving of education, first aid, gynaecology, property, a driving licence, or the protection of the law. And before you stop and think how glad you are your country isn't like that, here in the UK and in most of the developed world women are less likely to earn the same as men for the same job, to be elected to Parliament or to become CEO of a company. If one of us is raped, a jury will be asked to consider whether we were "asking for it". In Britain there are 1.05m women on the dole, the highest for 25 years, because the recession is hitting them harder than men - women are more likely to work in the public sector which is being cut, more likely to work part-time, and are generally seen as more expendable by bosses.

It's not quite as bad as the Congo, of course, but all our science and technology hasn't moved us quite as far as it could. And imagine what we could do in the Congo, if only it had oil.

So, do you know what? Shake your head ruefully at the exam results photos, at the fact those kids don't realise this is the thinnest and most carefree they'll ever be, that they feel so positive and thrilled about a life which is going to kick them in the chops every chance it gets. But don't get het up about pictures of young girls who are happy, who by and large and with a following wind will be able to have long and fulfilled lives in which they can do (almost) whatever they want.

Just be angry there aren't more of them.



Anonymous said...

Nail, head,hit!!

Anonymous said...

What an utter piece of sexist bollocks. And it's a rehash of the same shit you wrote last year.

Foxy said...

You might want to look at the date.

Oh, and saying let's praise girls for something is not the same as saying boys are rubbish. In fact this year boys' results are better, so yay for them too.

Anonymous said...


tangentreality said...

You do have a good point that in the majority of the world, especially developing countries, women do get a very raw deal. And it is despicable, and an injustice in this day and age. But before you go on to say just how bad things are for women in this country, remember:
- Men are STILL expected to work longer and retire later, not by the State, but by cultural expectations. A stay-at-home Mum is perfectly acceptable - a stay-at-home Dad is expressed as either lazy or incompetent;
- Men STILL dominate the most dangerous occupations in our society - Police, Fire Service, Armed Forces, manual labour. They work tirelessly to keep people of all sexes safe, and yet their contributions are too often taken for granted;
- Men suffer passive discrimination is virtually every walk of life, and suffer it silently. Girls can walk into nightclubs for free 'cos they have nice legs, but lads will have to pay every time. The Government takes active measures to try to get more women into the workplace, but what about the thousands of men up and down the country who are out of work?
- Try being a single father. Try securing access to your own children, who you've provided for since the day they were born. Try sitting in a room with a so-called 'impartial mediator', who deems it perfectly acceptable for your ex-wife to assert that she is a better parent than you, simply because she has a womb;
- Men are more likely to be the victims of violent crime. Not saying that women are never the victims - of course they are - but statistically, men are more likely to be so.

I'm not saying that men have the worst deal in this country, but I certainly don't concur with the implication that women do. And although I agree with the general sentiment of your article - that we should be thankful for what we do have, men and women alike - your argument lost a lot of credibility with this paragraph:

'You don't see teenage boys either, although you can smell them a mile away: either they don't wash at all or drown themselves in Lynx. Spotty oiks don't take much of a picture, and anyway girls get better exam results. They also express emotion in photographs and boys, with the best will in the world, just don't.'

Quite simply, it's stereotypical, sexist nonsense. If I'd made similar assertions about women, I'd be lambasted for it, and rightly so.

Anonymous said...

Please point out the sexist bits, I must have not read it correctly.

Anonymous said...

This is really poor. As well as that "Spotty oiks" nonsense being totally degrading you are basically saying that because women are discriminated against throughout society, we should make them and by proxy ourselves feel better by relentlessly objectifying a few token ones every year. I hope you recognise that that makes no sense at all.

Foxy said...

How is celebrating someone the same as objectifying them?

Were we objectifying Jessica Ennis last week? There were a lot of pictures of her celebrating in the papers after working hard.

Mike said...

The problem with the article is that it falls over itself to be shocking and evoke an emotional response, while at the same time failing the sniff test with respect to the rhetological fallacies test;
1. Appeal to consequences of belief - Arguing a belief is false because it implies something you'd rather not believe
2. Division - Assuming that characetristics of beliefs of some or all of a group applies to any individual member
3. Hasty generalization - Drawing a comclusion from a tiny sample
4. Affirming the consequent - Assuming there's only one explanation for the observation you are making
5. Sweeping generalisation - Applying a general rule too broadly
6. Confirmation bias - Cherry-picking evidence that supports your idea while ignoring contradicting evidence
7. Biased generalizing - Generalizing from an unrepresentative sample to increase the sterngth of your argument
8. Unfalsifiability - Offering a claim that cannot be proven false, because there is no way to check if it is false or not

Lastly, how do you go from the well covered, superficial, space filling photo's of girls receiving their A-level results to broad sweeping generalization of the suffrage of women? It is such a non-sequitur as to defy any level of rational argument! Both premises are interesting topics in their own right, but something of a desperate stretch to link together.
But other than that was an entertaining article and congrats on getting it doing the rounds again on FB and elsewhere.

Foxy said...

Well, you sound like fun. Fancy a pint?

Mike said...

lol - Actually I do ;-)

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