Saturday, April 01, 2006

Female liberation is a myth, delegates are told at the British Psychological Society conference

Another failure of feminism. Women remain different in their attitudes

Women may well have come a long way since the sexual revolution of the Sixties and Seventies, but research suggests that the enormous strides that they have made in the workplace have not been matched in the bedroom. The portrayal of complete female sexual liberation in television shows such as Sex and the City could be a myth, according to research suggesting that many women regard one-night stands and casual sex as wrong.

The idea that women might seek to have a one-off sexual encounter purely in the pursuit of pleasure is simply not believed by most women, who regard others who have one-night stands as desperate, pitiful or extremely needy. Sharron Hinchliff, of the University of Sheffield, said that the findings suggested that women's sexual behaviour was still "problematised" by society, even though similar behaviour by men was accepted. Dr Hinchliff conducted interviews with 46 women to explore their ideas on sexuality as part of a wider research programme on women's sexual health. Participants, chosen from the electoral roll in Sheffield, were aged between 23 and 83, with an average age of 48.

The findings, presented at the British Psychological Society annual conference in Cardiff, show that while women did not condemn others who had casual sex, 90 per cent believed them to be wrong. Many believed that women couldn't have sex for their own pleasure outside of a committed relationship. "They argued that women who have casual sex or one-night stands do it not because they are sexually liberalised, but because they have `lost control' on alcohol or drugs or because there is `something lacking' in their lives. They pitied these women and they saw it as deviant behaviour," Dr Hinchliff said.

The findings show a degree of double standards. The 10 per cent of women who admitted to having had one-night stands said that in their case it had been different - they had simply been finding out about relationships. Overall, older women were more accepting than younger women, although they still shared these views



A Sri Lankan businessman who came to Europe as a refugee has started an "anti-political correctness party" to fight for the right to discuss race and immigration without fear of persecution. Johannes Shanmugam believes that political correctness has gone too far in Britain. He is particularly incensed at what he claims is the ingratitude of those who have been given refuge in Britain yet complain endlessly about their new home. He announced the formation of his Political Correctness Corrective Party, which has so far just one member, himself, in his local newspaper and is now waiting to gauge the response.

Mr Shanmugam, who owns a sandwich shop in Cheltenham, believes that people are afraid to speak up in case they say the "wrong thing". He is outraged at the way an Oxfordshire nursery school changed the words of Baa-Baa Black Sheep to "Baa-Baa Rainbow Sheep" for fear of causing offence. He said: "We're so scared of offending minority people in this country that we've come full circle and got into an absurd situation. Is it all right for me to serve black pudding? Should Blackpool be renamed? Where's it going to end?"

Mr Shanmugam, who fled Sri Lanka for Sweden in 1990 and moved to Britain eight years ago, says that people who are genuinely fleeing persecution and are given refuge appreciate the freedoms that Britain offers. If they don't like it here, they can go elsewhere, he said. "I do think we should have controls on immigration. I can say these things because I am dark-skinned but, if a white person says them, they are accused of being racist. We need to have a civilised political debate. You can't go around waving placards and threatening to behead someone just because you disagree with them."


California students lead push to weaken school soda law: "Some students at Shasta High School want to return soda pop to their campus vending machines -- and they're preparing a statewide ballot measure to do it. Even though California high schools have until July 2007 to start replacing soda with water, juice and sports drinks, many -- including Shasta and high schools in Oakland and San Francisco -- have already switched over. Rocky Slaughter, 18, who is president of the Shasta High Student Union, thinks it's better to have a choice -- but be encouraged to choose wisely. 'Now it's like the Prohibition movement, and we all saw what happened with that,' Slaughter said on a tour of his school's vending machines and cafeteria. 'You take away certain things, and they become more desirable.' Under Slaughter's proposed initiative, half of school vending machine space would be devoted to sodas, the other half to drinks that would be labeled "healthy choices." Nutritional information about the different beverages would be posted on vending machines so students could make an informed choice. "We're allowed to drive a car. We're allowed to shoot guns. These are dangerous activities. So why can't we make decisions about nutrition?" asked Slaughter, who is now collecting money to turn his idea into an initiative and place it on the ballot."

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