Monday, 26 August 2013

Fortune favours the brave! Why Labour need more ministers with Andy Burnham's passion.

In her book, "The Selfish Society - How we all forgot how to love one another and made money instead", Sue Gerhardt brilliantly explains that when people vote, it is not (as some politicians seem to believe) the logical, rational parts of the brain which become most active, but rather, the regions associated with emotions - it's more about how we connect with politicians, whether we think they understand our anxieties, whether we trust them to do something about improving things, much more than the eloquent or witty prose they might reel off at party conferences, or points they might score against one another at Prime Minister's Questions. 

Indeed, if they come across as particularly human, voters will forgive them all sorts of indiscretions in their public and personal lives; much has been written about George W Bush's battle with alcoholism, and Bill Clinton ultimately won public approval back, once he admitted that yes, sex is sex and he had indeed committed adultery.  People responded to him as if he was a naughty, middle aged uncle in their own families, who's natural charm and good looks gets them into all sorts of bother.  And while Tony Blair will never really be forgiven for his naivety in allowing Britain to be dragged into the Iraq war, on a personal level, much of the public and the media still find him incredibly charismatic; there is a vulnerability in his eyes when he does that strange smile, as if he is desperate for our approval, and many conclude, as na├»ve as he was, it does sound like he thought he was doing the right thing at the time.  Sincerity, it seems, goes a long, long way in politics.

This way in which the general public relate to politicians, on an unconscious, emotional level, poses a genuine problem for the Labour Opposition, I would suggest, for I can think of few Shadow Ministers who come across as thinking, feeling, emotional beings - like the rest of us - with the exception perhaps of Andy Burnham, who is never afraid to say and show exactly what he's feeling.  We all saw his response, at the Hillsborough 20th Anniversary Memorial Service, back in 2009, he was starting to get booed and heckled by Liverpool fans, who felt angry and betrayed at the Labour government's failure to uncover the truth about what happened that day, and as the crowd launched into their moving "Justice for the 96" chant, Burnham just stood there in silence, completely acknowledging their pain and frustration, his body language was so genuine and so in tune with the song going round the stadium, it was obvious he was very much on the people's side, the fans' side; you can hear in his voice up to that point, and after it, that he is incredibly moved, and straight after this of course, he famously secured the Home Secretary's support (Jacqui Smith) in the releasing of secret files, which had been previously declined by Jack Straw.
As Secretary of State for Health, Andy Burnham has been passionate in his support for the NHS, and has been one of the few Shadow Ministers more than happy to challenge his Tory counterpart; everyone else on the Opposition front bench, frustrates the general public with their willingness to accept and even support the government's brutal, ideological austerity programme.  And the way the media have done the Tories' dirty work for them, harassing Burnham relentlessly, over the Mid Staffs affair, playing this out on a David and Goliath scale; Sky, the BBC, former Tories, current Tories, all mobbing him with a barrage of half-truths and distorted statistics, has only given the former Health Secretary a great opportunity to fight his corner, time and time again, defending his position with facts, not personal insults, as his opponents frequently resort to.

I'm not suggesting, here on this blog, that Andy Burnham should challenge for the Labour leadership, and I'm not suggesting he shouldn't, what I'm actually saying is, given that people can only connect with politicians when they come out and tell us what they think and how they feel, about what is happening in people's lives, under this brutal Tory regime, how do Labour expect to win enough support for election victory in 2015, when most of the Shadow Cabinet don't come out and say anything at all, presumably for fear of saying the wrong thing.   It leaves people asking, "Do the rest of them actually understand how these cuts are destroying lives, human relationships, people's sense of hope?  Do they even care?"

In politics, as with love, fortune favours the brave!

You can buy Sue Gerhardt's excellent book, "The Selfish Society", here Gerhardt - The Selfish Society

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

The clear feminist message is this really: Take control of your own sexuality, celebrate it and enjoy it.


As part of the Women Of The World Festival at the Southbank Centre in March of this year, Jude Kelly invited Noami Wolf (author of "The Beauty Myth", 1991) to talk about some of the fascinating and often tabboo issues she came across researching her latest book, "Vagina: A New Biography".

PLEASE BE AWARE this was an audience of adult women and men, and these were adult themes.

Here, I highlight some of those points which I feel women and men need to be aware of... Wolf herself emphasised she was in no way making judgements about people and things they do or don't do, she's just simply sharing information and I would echo this, which is so vital to do because information is power...

On Pornography

There are an increasing number of young men who find they can no longer get aroused and make love with someone they're attracted to without using porn, and we now understand why this is happening.

Pornography very rapidly desensitises the male brain; when a man gets sexually aroused watching porn, very quickly his brain habituates to that stimulus and he needs more and more extreme images or more and more novelty in order to reach that same level of desire.

This is why we have seen the mainstreaming now of the sorts of content which used to be quite marginal. It also means that men who watch a lot of porn can't get aroused so easily from just being in bed with their partner, and more and more men - healthy young men and healthy middle-aged men - are reporting a specific problem: they can no longer ejaculate, and a similar problem is happening to an increasing number of healthy young women who are watching porn more than generations of women before them.

Pornography is represented as this very liberating force but don't forget it's actually a multi-billion pound industry, exploiting a vulnerability in the male brain (and sometimes the female brain) without any disclosure of possible harmful effects to those who regularly use it.  It's been likened to the early days of cigarettes, when everyone thought it was cool to smoke and no-one revealed that these things could actually give you cancer. And similarly, people are using pornography more and more in their everyday lives and never questioning if there could be any harmful effects later down the line.

Not only is there a physical distress associated with not being able to perform sexually (and treating sexual dysfunction is yet another multi-billion pound industry of course) but there is often a psychological trauma experienced when a man can no longer make love to his partner. It seems to knock a man's confidence in so many other ways, at work, among his friends and peers, how he feels about himself and his achievements in life, it tends to affect his self-esteem and often results in tension and anxiety within his relationship.

So to get around the problem of the brain desensitising we find pornographic content becoming increasingly misogynous, increasingly violent - it has to be for this boost in new stimulus.  But this isn't individual men wanting to become more misogynous, this is multi-million pound corporations exploiting people for pure profit, regardless of the damage their product might be doing to millions of men, with absolutely no information, no warning about possible side affects.

On New Types Of Sexually Related Injuries

Younger women, say, women under the age of fifty, have gone through adolescence and their twenties watching a lot more porn than generations of women before them, and learning about sex from pornography.  Increasingly shocking images is one concern and more and more young women are admitting themselves to casualty on a Saturday night with anal injuries, where they've had sex with someone, often someone they don't know very well, and often greatly under the influence of alcohol, which is clearly a bad combination when it comes to this particular area, and basically, girls just think they are expected to offer this, that guys expect it, because it happens more and more commonly in the porn they are watching. 

On Hairlessness

This is another area which tends to affect younger women who have learned about sex through watching pornography. Commonly the women in these videos are hairless, again playing into this need for greater stimulus, for hairlessness is suggestive of very young, pre-pubescent girls, and we're also seeing a massive industry developing around surgery to change the way females look, to give their intimate areas the look of a much younger girl.  In fact some doctors in the US will even suggest having these operations - not for any medical reasons but purely to achieve that pornographised look.  Many people are asking if the increase in sexual abuse against children is in some way connected to this change in the way women's bodies are presented increasingly commonly in pornography, seen across  the western  world.

On Doing It For Yourself

For more than 5,000 years female sexuality, female desire has been mocked, degraded, controlled and even mutilated.  There is an enormous problem with shame and guilt that's been embedded in the female psyche from religion specifically and from culture generally; girls grow up encouraged to feel their sexuality is bad and dirty, and of course this has enabled them to be controlled by men, for research has shown now that women who are sexually frustrated are more likely to suffer from low confidence and poor self-esteem in many areas of their lives.  Let me share some of the science around this subject, linking the opioid dopamine with sexual pleasure. 

(This taken more or less from the discussion)

There is an amazing potent cocktail that happens in the brain when a woman allows herself, and is supported by her culture, in anticipating and seeking out sexual pleasure, and especially knowing how to make it happen for herself.  Being in control of what gives you pleasure is the number one dopamine enhancer.  Whatever her culture or background, whatever her sexuality, whether she is in a relationship or on her own, when she's anticipating sexual pleasure, dopamine is boosted in her brain.  Dopamine goes to the areas in the brain associated with focus and drive and motivation, assertiveness, trust in your own judgement, confidence.  (Cocaine acts on the dopamine system and we know how cocaine makes shy people assertive, outgoing and gregarious.)  When a woman reaches sexual climax, it boosts opioids which are about bliss and ecstasy and transcendence, and oxytocin levels are also boosted (linked to trust and intimacy and closeness) and this combination of opioids and reactions within the mind and body, can have an enormously powerful impact on women, on assertiveness, on confidence, on creativity, on being a better leader, being a better mother, giving a woman energy and insight to use in her life; dopamine in particular makes you less easy to push around, more sure of yourself.  These are all feminist qualities - female sexual pleasure makes you less easy to subordinate and subdue, and explains why things like FMG go on in some societies, why there is so much traumatic rape in war zones, why women have to live with constant barrage of  insults directed specifically at their genitalia and why for more than 5,000 years women have been actively discouraged from learning about what gives them sexual pleasure, not to feel good about their sexuality, not to discuss their interest in pleasure, because your pleasure empowers you in other ways that make you more challenging for those who seek to dominate and exploit you.  Wolf emphasised the importance of treating yourself as a lover, indulging yourself as a lover would, particularly if you don't have a lover, you still deserve to feel loved.

On Sex Toys

In 2009 a survey revealed more than 52% of women owned a vibrator and more recent studies suggest this figure is very much higher now, as women become more interested and confident exploring their sexuality.  But research suggests that habitual use of vibrators (like porn) is likely to have a desensitising affect, and women should be aware of the possible side affects and perhaps consider, armed with this information, how frequently they want to use sex toys, if they wish to maintain a healthy libido, particularly as they mature.  The sex toy industry is another multi-billion pound industry of course and once again no-one is disclosing the possible complications of achieving pleasure this way on a very regular basis. 

The clear feminist message is this really, take control of your own sexuality, celebrate it, enjoy it and don't be tormented and shamed into denying yourself this wonderful and intrinsic part of being a fulfilled human being.

Monday, 12 August 2013

Carl Jung, Anima and Animus, Twin Flames, Soul Mates and other rambling nonsense...

I'm not a Jungian.  I'm not even a Freudian these days.  If I were going to be anything, then I guess I would be a Bowlbyan, but that word looks ridiculously silly and actually reflects beautifully the weirdness of defining ourselves as mere followers of someone else's beliefs. 

What I am, what I genuinely am, is a JAVian (JAV being my initials).  There is only one of this form of JAVian in the universe and there will only ever be one.  As close as people get to me in this life, as much as people in the future might (for some bizarre reason) want to study and analyse me and my thinking, none of them could ever comprehend the world as I do, because they haven't had the unique set of experiences I have, which led me to formulate my understandings as they exist.  And of course, as time passes, so I am exposed to new experiences and my understanding of the world gets modified, year after year, day after day, hour after hour.  My very existence is fluid, constantly changing, and yet all the people I have been in the past, helpless baby, frustrated toddler, confused adolescent, ecstatic lover, jealous lover, joyous parent, concerned parent... all those versions of me, exist to some degree, within this person I am today, right now.  And naturally, there are still yet more versions of me to come:  proud grandmother, dying invalid, decomposing skin and bones.

And so, we are all of us, individuals and yet, within that aloneness we are joined.

But to go back to Jung, I am in no way qualified to critique his incredible theories, because I've not had enough formal training and confess I never did reach the end of "The Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious" (I kept falling asleep) though I am deeply fascinated by the concept of the Anima and Animus - that aspect within our psyche, which is basically the opposite gender personality, the male within me, which I seem to unconsciously seek in life and perhaps am destined never to find out there, because he exists already within me.  Let me try and find a passage of Jung which isn't too incomprehensible to elaborate on this:

Every man carries within him the eternal image of woman, not the image of this or that particular woman, but a definite feminine image. This image is fundamentally unconscious, an hereditary factor of primordial origin engraved in the living organic system of the man, an imprint or "archetype" of all the ancestral experiences of the female, a deposit, as it were, of all the impressions ever made by woman-in short, an inherited system of psychic adaptation. Even if no women existed, it would still be possible, at any given time, to deduce from this unconscious image exactly how a woman would have to be constituted psychically. The same is true of the woman: she too has her inborn image of man.

While I can follow this explanation, even that starts to give me a headache...

But this all then gets me thinking about something slightly different, that whole Twin Flames idea, which is so lovely isn't it, where people believe their lover is their true other half, as if they were almost conceived from the same egg and sperm, some say they're two halves of the same soul, which somehow got separated and the ultimate joy is finding them again, in this life and reuniting.  Who could not love that idea. But yet, there exists a cynicism in me when I hear people say "my lover is absolutely my twin flame, we are so perfect for one another, we are beyond soul mates, this person is my true, ultimate other half," for I find myself sitting there, thinking, "I'll give you five years!" which is horrid really, but because as individual human beings, personalities, we are constantly changing, I'm not sure how one person, who you meet in one moment of eternity, can be the exact replica of you, forever. 

But look, I am a romantic at heart, I get teased mercilessly for it, :-)  so there are aspects of that concept I like, the comfort the idea gives, that we can all find blissful contentment with another person, of course I love that idea, but a more realistic understanding, for me personally, would be the idea that we can have a number of soul mates, at various times in our lives maybe, or even soul mates who we connect with so deeply profoundly in different ways.  For instance, as a child, I had an uncle who completely doted on me, until I was about ten years old (he got married!  I was devastated!!  His wife was lovely though, and recognised I think that we were close) but I have vivid memories of being six or seven years old, and him just being so lovely and so funny and so kind, and thinking in a particular moment "you are just so wonderful, I am just so lucky to have you".  This man was very much my father figure, and I am quite sure all the men I have ever dated, I held up to this ridiculously high standard, and of course none of them were ever going to be able to love me as my dear uncle did - and the failing was mine in expecting that they could.  But as with any father figure, that relationship could never be replicated in a romantic one, because a father figure is very much the nurturer, the carer, they give you the safe space to experiment with life, to learn new skills, their role is to look after you, not to experiment with you.  That relationship is in no way mutually reciprocal, which a romantic relationship needs to be, lovers experimenting together, and there have to be times where you are the adult, and you are the nurturant parent, you can't just be the child all the time in a romantic relationship.  So that is one form of soul mate I feel I've had, and one explanation perhaps why all my relationships have ultimately failed.  (I suppose the trick here is, to have the insight to adapt and not to remain stuck in old ways of being and thinking, which experience has shown, don't work for me.)

And there have been times when a lover did feel like some sort of soul mate, not so much the relationships which lasted only a few months, for that's not usually long enough to build up the level of trust required in order to genuinely feel that sense of being so blissfully in tune with another human being, and you do probably both have to feel that, though of course one person can be in denial and lack the courage to acknowledge how they really feel.  That is not to say you can't meet people and feel an instant chemistry, obviously that happens sometimes, and the power of the attraction you feel for someone can be quite scary, particularly if they are out of bounds for some reason, they're married perhaps or it's a work colleague which has all the potential to end in disaster, or they're maybe much older than you or much younger, or even something like, they're gay and you're not - though that example would indicate it's you who's being slightly deluded, but should not be completely dismissed because I think we fall in love with minds, with personalities on the deepest level, and certainly as we get older I think the physical is somewhat secondary, for obvious reasons.  But relationships, the long lasting ones, as well as the flings, have a sad habit of not working out, though I would not say those feelings of being so connected were not real; with hindsight we can often see that something was destined to fail, though it all felt very real at the time, for the person we were then.

And I can feel a deep, soul mate type connection a women who has experienced many of the things I've lived through, because we have an understanding, appreciation and admiration of one another's courage and dignity and compassion say,  and at times I even feel a soul mate like connection with my own children, because of the powerful experiences we have been through together, some very happy, some very challenging.  And I suppose it's about whether those challenging experiences (in all the different roles we assume, as parent and child, and with your lovers and partners, with your own parents, with friends and colleagues) ultimately make the two of you closer, and more protective of one another, or drive you apart and alienate you from each other.

I'm wanting to write about Carl Jung, but keep going off on a tangent - that will tell us something about something!  As much as I love Jung's view of human beings existing in a very broad and deeply complex, connected sense, where Freud was much happier to put us all in little boxes, violent, angry and isolated from one another, Jung's theories are so saturated with jargon, I find them almost impossible to follow, and I am by no means a stupid women, I can grasp Klein's Object Relations Theory with comparative ease! 

Was it Albert Einstein or Johan Cruyff who said, if you can't explain something in simple terms, then you don't really understand it well enough?  Well, anyway, I think this is an issue.  Academics can sometimes hide behind jargon, almost as a defence.  If we can't crack the code, then how are we to challenge them, and certainly how are ordinary people with no specialised training empowered to challenge these great thinkers, if we don't have a clue really what they're on about.  Not because the concepts are too difficult for us, but because the words and phrases to explain aspects of the theory seem designed to be prohibitively confusing and just plain weird.  When you look at Freud's work, particularly his theory of psychosexual development with frequently recurring words and themes like "phallic stage", "anal stage", "oral stage" - I'm sure in Freud's time, these words were not used openly in polite conversation, and still now, we are often mindful about how we discuss Freud's theories.  Freud does appear to have been fixated on sex, it was a very repressed period in history of course, but it is documented that he even psychoanalysed his own daughter's sexual fantasies.  To us today, that would seem highly inappropriate and I think a lot of his work, which is important and fascinating and valid, is discredited because of this obsession with sex.  Certainly psychotherapists in the 1970s, appeared to be taking this fixation with sex to a new and disgraceful level, with one study in America revealing that seven out of ten therapists admitted to having sex with clients, such was the power they wielded over their patients it seems, and as those things became exposed, so psychotherapy fell out of favour with the public.  But again I digress!

I suppose, what I want to say is, I think in order for the human species to move on, we are going to have to all learn a lot, lot more about the human mind, for we still know very little about the complexities happening within it, and these impressive theories, dreamt up over decades by academics, are just that, theories, none of this is really able to be proved or disproved.  But while psychologists and others, continue to hide behind these complicated, strange, technical terms, how are we to really advance the understanding of the general population, allowing us all to live happier, more harmonious, fulfilling lives?

Saturday, 10 August 2013

Men have much to gain from a pro-feminist movement which seeks to liberate all of us from fear and prejudice (part two)

There is, undoubtedly, a growing number of men - intelligent, compassionate, politically aware and self-aware men - who recognise the enormous injustice of male institutions holding so much power over the past 8,000 years, and using that power to dominate and exploit and sometimes physically hurt women, just for being women. 
To an increasing number of enlightened men, this is simply unacceptable and ultimately unsustainable.  And the feminist movement does need men to come out and express their rejection of those old misogynist views, but we have to appreciate it is not easy for an individual man to put his own balls on the line, as it were, and speak out in favour of his sisters in society.  When men do feel compelled to do this though, women everywhere admire and cherish them.  If we are to move things forward, to benefit all of us, we have to take men with us, individual men in society are not the enemy here, but embedded sexism that's encouraged and endorsed by male institutions, happy to brainwash men as boys and divide us and set us against each other as good, decent, loving human beings who are all part of the same species.
Fathers can play a really important role, in helping to try and shift the balance of power, by endorsing their daughters, expressing admiration for their achievements, as they grow up, and not simply reserving praise for a young girl's appearance.  Also by frequently expressing their respect for women, not just women in the family, but women in society; again not so much women famous for
their "beauty" but women who have achieved great things with a mind of their own, sports personalities, women in the arts, women in politics.  Little girls do look up to their fathers, and his values will be internalised by her and this will affect the decisions she makes in life and ultimately the type of partner she feels comfortable settling down with - a partner who sees her every bit as his equal, or one who tends to put her down and invalidate her feelings and views.
Accepting that most individual men are probably decent guys, who do respect women, at least the women in their own lives, it has been asked:  why don't they feel able to stand up for women more, why do they let these huge injustices go on without feeling the need to vocalise their objection.  It would appear that most men are experiencing more fear about their own self-image, and how other men might react to them, than their sense of care and compassion for women and the need to protect us as a gender.  Which illustrates just how damaging and divisive the brainwashing in childhood is.  Because I'm certain many men would love to feel more empowered, to share their endorsement of women, so let's give them some encouragement, and show our appreciation when they do, for we probably can't achieve what we need, for us, for our own daughters and sons, and for society as a whole, without the help of all those fantastically cool men out there!

#Feminism #CoolMen  :-)xx

Friday, 9 August 2013

Most men have an enormous amount to gain from women achieving an equal share of power in our society - Jude Kelly and Michael Kaufman on Misogyny...

In a discussion on Misogyny and Misandry, earlier this year, artistic director of the Southbank Centre, Jude Kelly, talked very movingly about the insidious misogyny lurking in popular culture such as horror films, and the impact that had on her, when she was younger.

"I can never, never lose the idea that some people enjoy watching blonde girls running for their life, through woods, knowing that they're going to be caught at some stage, and something horrendous is going to happen to them.  And the idea that, that is a pleasurable thing for people, well that was my first experience, I suppose of something which is popular entertainment, but for a young blonde girl, it left me with the impression that I'm never safe in woods and streets and all the rest of it, from this unknown terror, which includes the idea that actually, I exist to be a victim."
"That's actually a constructed image, then you take that further, and you think, if that's a nice thing to do, chase girls and terrify them and hound them and turn them into prey - which of course, is quite a psychopathic thing to do - but the fact that the psychopathic nature of that, becomes popular entertainment, I experience that as a sort of enjoyable, playing with a victim, and that victim is a woman, so I call that misogyny, but it's so endemic in popular entertainment, that people would probably find that extreme of me to say."
She then went on to talk about the raping of women as a weapon of war, and her confusion, a confusion shared by many of us, that men could ever think that was an acceptable way to treat women, ever, in any scenario, and she expressed a concern that this fear and hatred of women is so embedded in the male psyche in our current culture, that in certain, perhaps extreme circumstances, many men might be capable of that, for instance if sent off to war by their government.   She concluded, "I feel it is too near the surface, for too many men and boys."
What followed was a brilliantly insightful discussion with gender equality writer, Michael Kaufman which explored the idea of jealousy as an explanation for the roots of misogyny (Kaufman referenced Mary O'Brien's "The Politics of Reproduction") and a sense of awe and fear that men may have always felt about women's ability to give life. 
But Kaufman also talked compellingly about his personal view that it is, perhaps, more about the way we bring up boys, and in our relentless drive to raise them to become men, as  society sees that role, that gender, we root out all those qualities perceived to be traditionally feminine, such as being tender, nurturing, loving and receptive, all the passive qualities human beings can possess, and we actually humiliate and shame boys for expressing these feelings or these behaviours, which are all perfectly valid things for a man to be and feel.  And so those passive qualities get externalised, projected onto women, and then in order to somehow justify they've been lost, these (perceived) feminine qualities, and women themselves get vilified. And what results from that, is a collective fear and hatred by men of all the things we associate as feminine; but what becomes apparent is, it is quite ridiculous to label these big complex concepts as merely being feminine or masculine....
For 8,000 years, men have enjoyed pretty much all the power, all the control in society, enforcing this idea when necessary with violence, or the threat of violence - there is no question that men tend to be more aggressive than women. Not all individual men have predominantly aggressive, confrontational personalities, no-one is suggesting that; many individual men deplore aggression, and deplore it within themselves, but collectively, men as a gender have tended to use aggression as a tool to maintain their control.  And there is probably, naturally, 8,000 years worth of resentment in women, and yet women, as a gender, don't seek to wield power over men.  We want a fair share of that power and we're happy to work with men, not against them.  But that idea, of cooperation and collaboration, all equally bringing something to the table to solve the big problems in society, globally, this seems completely unthinkable to the (male) establishment.  As if women cannot be trusted to have an intelligent view on these things, and viable solutions.  Which is utter madness, but it's driven, that view, by fear.  Because men have wielded power over women for 8,000 years, within government, within the major faith structures, they assume we would do the same to them - to somehow be driven to get our own back.  Men collectively, are judging women as a gender, by their own, flawed standards.  Considering they are supposed to be the logical gender, there is absolutely no logic to their thinking, no evidence that women en masse desire to cut men's balls off and reduce them to impotent slaves.  This fear, is fuelled by paranoia, not evidence and logic.
And as I say, many individual men, a growing number now, despise the situation too, and do love and respect women and long to work with them collaboratively because these individual men realise the wealth of talent and positive qualities women have to offer.  Because without a doubt, if women suddenly had a genuine 50% of the power in society, within government here in the UK, within the major faiths around the world, things would be done very differently.  Society would be transformed, probably virtually overnight, and on every count, for the better. 
Most men perhaps do not realise, they have an awful lot to gain from being pro-feminist and supporting women in achieving their fair share of power.  Most men don't have any actual power in life, the elite 1% of any population has the actual power, but they have successfully sold men the idea, the illusion, that they do have power over their lives.  While men are not as subjugated as most women, most individual men are still slaves within the system in many ways.  What feminists (both female and male) seek, is a liberation for everyone, to live a life that will bring them fulfilment and contentment and self-respect and love.  A life that isn't only dominated by paid work and worry about mounting debt and feeling you have to keep up with your neighbour right up until the day you die, and a great many men, perhaps even most men, would welcome the concept of a different way of living.

#Feminism #CoolMen  :-)xx

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

Sleeping next to someone you love reduces stress and can even protect you from heart disease and cancer.

A study undertaken by the University of Pittsburgh last year, concluded that sleeping next to someone we love can reduce stress and protect us from heart disease, digestive problems and even cancer. 

One in four couples opt to sleep in separate beds, and common reasons given for this are snoring, incompatible temperature requirements and inconsiderate sleeping behaviours, such as stealing all the duvet.  But researchers found that even where couples experienced these irritations, the benefits to sharing a bed, appear to outweigh the disadvantages.

Sleeping next to someone you love is likely to encourage feelings of safety and security which would naturally lower levels of cortisol.  People who sleep alone are likely to have higher levels of cortisol through the night; cortisol is linked to the proteins associated with inflammation, heart disease and depression so it would appear that sleeping together lowers the levels of these damaging proteins.

There has long been evidence around, suggesting happily married couples tend to live longer, healthier, happier lives, and we know that good quality sleep does appear to have enormous benefits for our physical and psychological wellbeing.  Couples  who sleep together are also likely to have higher levels of oxytocin  - the love hormone associated with bonding.  It's most famously associated with lovemaking, but does get released through skin to skin contact at other times, such as holding hands, getting a hug, snuggling up under the duvet and engaging in "pillow talk".  In fact oxytocin seems to possess quite an addictive element, the more we produce, the more we seem to crave and the closer we want to be, all aiding the bonding process, but the benefits of increased oxytocin levels are not just limited to psychological effects, for researchers in Malmo University Hospital, found release of the hormone also improved patients' digestive processes and reduced inflammation - we know that excessive inflammation within the body, is linked to cancer.  Oxytocin has also been described as working like a "natural angina medication" with one study linking the number of hugs people received in a day to blood pressure - participants who received more hugs appeared to have lower blood pressure.

However, research does seem to indicate the health benefits of sleeping together only occur if the relationship is a relatively happy one and both partners enjoy, or can at least tolerate, sharing a bed.  Solutions to incompatible sleeping preferences, which might prevent couples sleeping together, could include some compromise on bed time, if one person is a night owl and their other half rises with the lark, for instance.  An e-reader might allow one partner to read in bed, in the dark, while their lover slept soundly beside them, and disagreements about duvet warmth could be overcome perhaps by one wearing pyjamas to bed and the other sleeping naked.   The huge benefits enjoyed by sleeping together, surely make it worthwhile to find practical ways around the difficulties.

Never were there so many reasons to switch off the TV, and get yourselves an early night! ;-)

Monday, 5 August 2013

Capitalism, like cocaine addiction, is only about feeding the habit now for instant gratification, regardless of the consequences to others, and even to the self.

You might think, from listening to politicians, commentators in the media and people chatting down the pub, or at work, or on Twitter, that the way things are run in this country, is the only realistic option available:
  • that some form of capitalism is the only viable economic model
  • that benefits have to be means tested
  • that people don't appreciate a health service when it's free at the point of delivery
  • that the country is swamped with illegal immigrants who are bleeding the country dry
  • that the unemployed can only be incentivised to work by literally starving them
This is what the Government has been telling us, since they wangled their way into No 10, in May 2010, and for some reason none of us can understand, the official Opposition seems to be agreeing with them, on virtually all counts...

There is never any genuine evidence presented to support those statements; from time to time some obscure figures are bandied around by ministers, and taken and reported as fact by the mainstream media, but these are invariably presented completely out of context and all too often get exposed as false and misleading by those who have a lot more experience in a particular field.

I have many problems with capitalism as an economic model, and my objections are well documented on this blog.  I'm not an economist, but you don't have to be an economist to see that it makes no sense to have such a tiny proportion of the population so obscenely wealthy, while other people, an ever growing number, are struggling to feed their children and keep a roof over their heads.   A government economic policy, which seeks to perpetually increase the gap between those with excessive wealth and those who can't even meet their basic needs, is a recipe for social disaster and the obsession with consumerism to feed that model can only end in ecological disaster.

Don't be fooled by politicians who use expressions like ethical capitalism, there is no such thing; as a concept, that cannot exist.  The single point of capitalism is to return maximum profits for shareholders for minimum investment or outlay.  By its very nature, capitalism requires that people cut corners and take risks to secure the biggest rewards in the shortest time possible, there is no place within the capitalist model for compassion, for ethics, for deferred gratification.  Capitalism, like cocaine addiction is only about feeding the habit now for an instant reward, regardless of the consequences to others, and even to the self.

Of course there is another way.  There are a number of other ways and more and more of us are finding a voice to express our concern and our desire to help create a better world, where we all have our basic needs met to live happy, healthy, fulfilling lives, without the need for human suffering, indignity and endless conflict.