Tuesday, February 14, 2012
Live free or sneeze? New Hampshire weighs ban on scents worn by state workers
Why must it always be minorities who are catered to? What about the majority who want to smell nice? I get a runny nose for various reasons. Why can't others just put up with it too?
Less is more, according to New Hampshire lawmakers debating whether to ban the use of scented or fragrant soaps by state employees. Under House Bill 1444, state workers who interact with the public would be prohibited from wearing fragrances or scented products while on the job
The reason for the proposed ban -- exposure to scented products can irritate or worsen symptoms for people with asthma or allergies. "The chemicals in some of these products can trigger the nasal congestion, sneezing and the runny nose," Dr. Stanley Fineman, an allergist with Emory University and the Atlanta Allergy and Asthma Clinic, told MyFoxBoston. "With the asthmatics, there's really good data showing their lung function changes when they're exposed to these compounds."
The legislation will get a vote Wednesday. If passed and signed into law, it would take effect within 60 days.
Busted: the politics of cleavage and a glance
Increasingly, women feel they are entitled to dress however they like but take offence when the 'wrong' man has a look, writes Bettina Arndt
A young man and woman are having a friendly chat after a yoga class. The fresh-faced blonde seems totally relaxed but then she freezes. "Did you just look at my chest," she asks angrily, arms firmly folded.
"Yep," mutters the bloke sheepishly. Her response is fierce. "Can't I go to one yoga class without being ogled by some jerk?"
Instead of being cowed, he takes her on, launching into a passionate defence of his action: "If you really didn't want me to stare at your beautiful breasts, you'd be wearing something other than a purple sports bra covering maybe one-third of your perfect tits," he argues, suggesting, among other things, that he's biologically programmed to scan for life-giving breasts for his future offspring. He's cute, passionate and ultimately convincing. She ends up asking him out for coffee.
This skit, from New York media company The Kloons [see video above], has attracted more than a million hits on YouTube. The producers say it wasn't just meant as a joke but "to investigate the deep chasm between men and women".
That mighty chasm is indeed wide and growing, with so many women now feeling absolutely entitled to dress as they like - bare tits, enticing flesh squeezed into the shortest, tightest clothing. Everywhere you look, women are stepping out dressed provocatively but bristling if the wrong man shows he enjoys the display.
And men - well, they are in a total state of confusion. There are cocky, attractive, successful men, alpha males, revelling in this unexpected bounty, boldly eyeing off the assets of women they fancy as their prey.
Sensitive males are wary, not knowing where to look. Afraid of causing offence. And there are angry men, the beta males who lack the looks, the trappings of success to tick these women's boxes. They know the goodies on display are not for them. These are the men most likely to behave badly, blatantly leering, grabbing and sneering. For them, the whole thing is a tease. They know it and resent it.
The state of play was neatly summed up during the recent SlutWalks, where scantily dressed women took to the streets, proudly proclaiming their right to dress as they wish, in protest over a Canadian cop, who suggested women shouldn't dress like sluts if they don't want to be raped.
Jamie Lauren Keiles, an organiser of SlutWalk Chicago, explained that a half-naked woman as a form of protest is different from a half-naked lady pandering to the male gaze. It's about "a woman putting herself out there as a 'f--- you' as opposed to a 'f--- me'," Keiles explained. That may be fine in the context of protesting that scantily dressed women aren't asking to be raped. Of course, there's never an excuse for sexual violence or for men to paw or harass women.
But when young women stand in front of mirrors on a Saturday night, adjusting their cleavage, seeking ever greater exposure, maybe they need to think more about what they are doing. While there are women who claim they dress sluttishly just to make themselves feel good, the fact remains that, like the protesters, the main message sent is about flaunting women's sexual power.
It's an "UP YOURS" gesture of the most provocative kind.
Not that all women understand that's how they come across. A mid-40s woman tells me about a naive 22-year-old work colleague who recently had a breast enlargement.
"She is a tiny thing, quite pretty but socially inept and ready to settle for anything that comes along. She went for a breast enlargement to a D cup in the belief it would attract a better type than her current, unsatisfactory bloke."
The older colleague tried to discourage her but she went ahead with the operation. "Now she gets all weird when older men or ugly men or fat men or any men she doesn't see as ideal even glance at her. She reacts with nervous laughter and at the first opportunity runs back to me and says, 'OMG, you won't believe who looked at me,' as if it is unreasonable for these men to take any notice of her. "And surprise - it hasn't introduced her to a better partner! Now she is talking about having them redone a size larger."
This girl hasn't a clue but plenty of other women know exactly what they are doing, as they make clear in internet discussions of this issue.
"I luv my 36DDs and show them off. I like to see men drool."
"It's so funny when some men get caught cos they have that 'Am I in trouble?' look on their face!"
"It is a tease thing … men are so weak.
"We have such power over them."
Jean* is a 33-year-old, extremely attractive Sydney divorcee completing her PhD in physics. She has a fit body and large breasts, which she likes showing off in revealing clothes. When she "gets the girls out", she enjoys the subtle looks, even a discreet compliment about her body from the right man.
"A quick glance from them, a little moment of recognition, and then back to the conversation. It's part of the dance, hinting at a possible connection," she says.
Are some allowed to look and others not?
"Well, I think there's a sort of sexual food chain and I prefer to engage with people on a similar level as me. Sometimes it feels sleazy when I'm way out of the observer's league, like if they're really old or fat or ugly."
That's the problem. She's advertising her wares to the world, not just her target audience, and somehow men are expected to know when they are not on her page. Jean describes at length the subtle dance, based largely on non-verbal behaviour, that she uses to show men when attention is welcome. But as we all know, many men are lousy at that stuff - the language totally escapes them.
Rob Tiller is a Perth psychotherapist and men's advocate who has run more than 200 men's workshops on communication skills, sex and intimacy. He believes many men are confused about what's going on.
"In one of my workshops, I remember a guy describing women flaunting their bodies as a form of 'biological sexual harassment' towards men, to which most of the group gave a collective nod," Tiller says. "The self-assured, cocky blokes seem to see bare flesh as a green light and often express a 'bring-it-on' attitude but others find it difficult to handle. I think it's a real catch-22 for most men. We really do want to be respectful but that's not always easy with a neon pink G-string staring up at us."
The internet is bristling with men writing about what they regard as women's sexual arrogance. Provocative female attire is an assault against men, writes Giovanni Dannato for In Mala Fide, an online magazine of heretical ideas. He argues women exposing themselves without intending to reciprocate the attention they attract is impolite and inconsiderate - which, he bizarrely suggests, is rather like schoolchildren who bring something tasty to class that they are not prepared to share. It amounts to "an act of aggression in which they use the power of their sex as a weapon", he writes.
Dannato may be on to something when he proposes that some of the catcalling these women attract is a "defence mechanism used by low-status men against women flaunting themselves publicly". There certainly are a bunch of men writing about the plight of the beta males - unattractive, low-status guys who don't get to first base with women.
F. Roger Devlin, a political philosopher who writes challenging material on gender issues for The Occidental Quarterly, points out these beta males have long been tearing their hair out trying to discover what on earth they have to do to make themselves acceptable to the girl next door. They get the message that what women instinctively want is "for 99 per cent of the men they run into to leave them alone, buzz off, drop dead, while the one to whom they feel attracted makes all their dreams come true".
Of course, there is no excuse for gross behaviour when beta males are told to buzz off, told that the titillation isn't meant for them - plenty of men do manage to control themselves in these circumstances.
But surely men have a right to show what it's like to be on the receiving end. There's a great scene in the animated television comedy Family Guy, where Peter Griffin, the overweight, ugly, blue-collar dad, lets fly about Lindsay Lohan putting on her little outfits and jumping around on stage throwing "those things" in front of his face. "What am I supposed to do? What do you want from me?" he asks plaintively. But he knows the answer all too well: "I'll tell you what you want. You want NOTHING. We all know no woman anywhere wants to have sex with anyone and to titillate us with any thoughts otherwise is just bogus."
Griffin's howl of protest is based on the simple truth that some men spend their lives in a state of sexual deprivation, dealing with constant rejection. Roy F. Baumeister is a psychology professor at Florida State University who has extensively researched gender difference in sex drive. "Sexual frustration is almost inevitable for the majority of men and not just occasionally. They won't have enough partners or even enough sex with one partner to satisfy their wishes," Baumeister writes, concluding, "the tragedy of the male sex drive" is men's state of perpetual readiness, which so rarely meets its match.
That's the context that makes the constant just-out-of-reach titillation men now face confusing, irritating and even insulting. Yet many men are still trying hard to get it right, listening to their partners about why they hate men's ogling.
Take these soul-searching words from a 35-year-old Brisbane man.
"When I was first dating my partner, we'd be walking along the beach through the 'minefield' of tanning lasses and I'd moan out loud when a particularly sexy beach bunny crossed our path. My lady would protest my caveman shenanigans to no avail; not only was she hurt by my overtly disrespectful ogling, it also deeply impacted her confidence about her body. Over time, she became much less comfortable with her body at the beach, as well as the bedroom. Five years later, the scars left by my clumsy perving are healing but she still struggles with her body image. Such a shame because, honestly, she's a knockout."
Of course men are going to want to look - "it feels like there's a magnet in her chest" one man complained. But there are men struggling with how to do this in a respectful way. There's a sweet blog on The Good Men Project website - which promotes enlightened "masculinity" - where Hugo Schwyzer describes his total humiliation when Jenny Talbot caught him staring at her boobs in maths class. "You're so perverted," she yelled and Hugh cringed with embarrassment. But since then, he's taken women's studies courses and understands "the problematic power of the male gaze".
And he's ready to give helpful hints to men about how to look without making women uncomfortable. Like the Three-Second Rule: "Few women are going to feel you're undressing them if your glance lasts so short a time."
Anslem Samuel site, which debates relationships and current events - writes some pretty funny stuff about how awkward it is to look everywhere but below eye level: "We'll be looking at the top of your head or straight up at the ceiling. By the time the conversation is over, we'll know how many light bulbs are in every room," he jokes.
It does all have its funny side and there are also plenty of men who love the passing parade. Some men, particularly successful, attractive men, enjoy the show - confident that they are in the target audience. Harry* is a fit, cute 28-year-old, well launched on his media career, a world where he suggests flirting and flaunting is part of the culture. He's comfortable with women displaying themselves to him: "If she has a great body and she enjoys showing it off, for sure I enjoy looking." He tells the story of a meeting with a young woman wearing a fairly fitted yellow dress, "popping out of the top".
"The conversation was about the rate I was going to charge them for advertising. As I looked down at my notebook and did some basic sums, I realised that she was leaning forward, deliberately showing her tits, presumably to throw my concentration." He called her bluff. "I started to laugh and made a comment about putting her body on the line for the business!" She backed off, embarrassed, and he got his deal done.
The young people caught up in all the titillation rarely see any harm in what's going on. I have had many conversations with parents of young women who try to tell their daughters that revealing dress isn't a good idea, only to be rebuffed by statements about women's rights.
Often, the older women will admit they'd been down this road themselves. Here's one: "At 43 years old, I no longer wear revealing outfits as I don't have the body for it, I think women my age look silly flaunting themselves and, frankly, I couldn't be bothered. But when I was young I was always the one to wear outfits that would make a father say, 'You're not going out in that, young lady!"'
She'd yell abuse at guys catcalling from cars at her. "I can wear whatever I want!" Only now does she think about the confused young men she left in her wake, the mixed messages she'd sent them. "Deep down I was much more aware of my power than I actually let on."
A Brief Argument for English Independence
by Sean Gabb
The normal English response to Scottish nationalism is to ignore it, or to see it as an irritation, or to try shouting it down with reminders of all that shared history, or to point out the value of English subsidies and to wait for common sense to win the argument. None of these, I suggest, is an appropriate response. None takes into account that England and Scotland are different nations, and that the loudest and most energetic part of the Scottish nation has decided that the current union of the nations is not in Scottish interests. This does not make it inevitable that the union will be dissolved. It does, however, make this desirable. Scotland may or may not have suffered from the union. But the union has done much to bring England to the point of collapse, and it strikes me as reasonable to say that England can never be safe while there are Scottish members in the Westminster Parliament.
Let us take the New Labour revolution as evidence for this. Since 1997, England has been largely remodelled. There are few institutions, or administrative and legal forms, or even assumptions, from before 1997 that now make sense to anyone who has grown up since then. The gutting of the House of Lords, the altered functions of the judges, the laws to regulate political parties, and that allow unelected officials to supervise and even unseat elected representatives, the new criminal laws and new modes of criminal and civil procedure, the appointment of commissar units in every government agencies and most private corporations to impose the totalitarian ideologies of political correctness – these and many others combine to make present life in England very different from anything known before. There is also our continued and even accelerated integration into the European Union. And there has been the state-sponsored settlement of England by millions who are alien in their appearance and their ways. Every thread of continuity between the English present and past that could easily be snapped has been snapped.
Of course, this creeping revolution did not begin in 1997 – it became undeniably evident when Margaret Thatcher was in office. Nor has it been confined to England – every other civilised country has fallen into the hands of a totalitarian elite. There is an attack on bourgeois civilisation in every place where it exists, and the attack is led by those who were young in the 1970s, and has the support of a mass of economic and other interest groups. But, this being said, just think how many of the Labour ministers were Scottish. There was Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, Robin Cook, John Reid, George Robertson, Wendy Alexander, Yvette Cooper, Doug Henderson, and so on and so forth. Below the leadership, an astonishing number of Labour members of parliament or Labour Party officials had Scottish accents. The Labour Party that emerged from its troubles of the 1980s was disproportionately Scottish – and assertively Scottish. Their political ambitions lay in the Labour Party, and not in the Scottish National Party. This did not give them other than a very weak sense of British identity, and gave them no observable understanding of or liking for the English.
Now, the central fact of Scottish history has been English domination. Since the eleventh century, England has been a rich and powerful and unified nation, loyal to a government that, broadly speaking, has been accountable to it. For most of the past thousand years, Scotland has been sparsely populated and without trade. Its people have been divided by language and culture, and by political allegiance, and sometimes by religion. It would be a miracle had Scotland ever managed real independence in these circumstances. It almost never has. The 1707 political union put Scotland under an almost purely English Parliament. The 1603 union of the crowns gave Scotland, after one reign, an English King. Even before then, the most important commoner in Edinburgh had almost always been the English ambassador. Even when there was no English army stationed there, Scotland was subject to varying degrees of rule from London.
In no meaningful sense, therefore, can Scotland be independent so long as it has England as its neighbour. And this is the main significance of the New Labour Revolution, and of the disproportionate Scottish contribution to New Labour. Undeniably, this was part of an overall project to destroy bourgeois civilisation, and understanding it requires a reading of Karl Marx and Antonio Gramsci and Louis Althusser and Michel Foucault, and all the others. At the same time, it was an attempt to make Scottish independence possible by destroying England. Divide England into half a dozen Euro-regions; set these in competition with each other for money and privilege from Brussels; fill the country with ten or twenty million aliens; make it illegal, or at least in poor taste, to refer to an English identity – and the way is cleared for Scotland to be as independent as any other small nation can be.
This would explain the rising levels of Scottish hatred seen by many English visitors. When I visited Glasgow in 1994, there was much good-natured mockery of the English. When I was there again in 1997, I was driven from a coffee bar by the hostility even of the staff. In 2000, a taxi driver had the nerve to claim he was unable to understand my accent. In 2002, when I replied to hatred with hatred, another taxi driver tried to get me arrested for unspecified drug offences. Scottish politicians and administrators cooperate in discriminating against the English. The Scottish lower classes are best avoided.
The reason is simple. If you hate someone, you may want to destroy him. But, if you want to destroy someone, it is nearly always necessary to hate him. The Scottish claim to hate us for what we have done to them. In truth, they hate us for what they want to do to us. Bearing in mind that the Labour Party remains a Scottish front, and that the Conservatives might lose the next election, the 1707 union is actually more dangerous for England than membership of the European Union.
I will ask in passing why so many English Conservatives disagree with this analysis. One reason is a sentimental attachment to facts that have ceased to exist. This leads to what I find the most bizarre claims from Conservative supporters– for example, that the European Union wants to dissolve the United Kingdom in order to absorb England, whereas the European Union is simply part of the Scottish attack on England. A less creditable motive is that many of the Conservative leaders are themselves Scottish, and an ending of the union would reveal them as foreigners in England, and confirm them as unelectable in Scotland.
Most importantly, there are the electoral considerations. In the short term, removal of the Scottish members would bring about a Conservative domination of Parliament. In the longer term, however, removal of the Labour threat would mean that English conservatives were no longer locked into voting Conservative. I do not believe that many of those who voted Conservative in 2010 felt the slightest enthusiasm for David Cameron and William Hague and George Osborne. These got into office only because a majority of the English people feared and hated the Labour Party. Take away the Labour threat, and there would be the freedom to vote other than Conservative in general as well as in European election. Obviously, union with Scotland benefits the Labour Party. But it also benefits the Conservatives by keeping alive the Labour bogeyman.
I say, then, that the union between England and Scotland should be wholly severed. I say that there should be no customs union or common currency, no rights of movement or of settlement, no shared head of state, no coordination of foreign policy or defence. Scotland and its citizens should become as alien, under English law, as Uruguay now is. This might not suit the interests of the Scottish people, as reasonably considered. But that is not my concern. It should certainly be English policy to prevent the sort of instability north of the border that might encourage foreign – and therefore hostile – intervention, or that might cause mobs of starving refugees to electrocute themselves on the border fences. But, once the union has been severed, I shall be inflexibly opposed to any structure of shared institutions between England and Scotland.
England requires no less. Perhaps, all things considered, Scotland deserves no less.
Nadine Dorries MP: We must stop anti-religious groups from removing the Christian fabric of British society
Parliament now has to face a new problem, which is how to legislate to reverse the decision made yesterday by Mr Justice Ouseley, that the 600 year old practice of Bideford council to say prayers at the start of each council session are not lawful under section 111 of the Local Government Act of 1972. Because there is one thing which is for certain, the attack upon Christian belief in this country is plumbing the depths of what reasonable people will accept. This ruling is in itself a catalyst which will have prompted a fight back which will set those determind to impose their own secular beliefs upon a Christian society into reverse.
In December, David Cameron described Great Britain as ‘a Christian country and we should not be afraid to say so’. This sentence in itself is revealing. Of course we shouldn’t be afraid to say so, but when a van driver loses his job for hanging a crucifix from his cab mirror or a social worker is suspended for wearing a cross and chain around her neck, people are afraid, which is why those words were included in the speech. There is recognition that Christians are being silenced by systemic attack upon their faith and constantly being challenged through the courts.
Bideford council had already voted twice to continue with their prayer tradition following attempts by Liberal Democrat councillor, Mr Bone to have them stopped on the basis that he, a lonely-voiced councillor who wanted them to cease, was having his human rights infringed as he felt embarrassed having to leave the chamber whilst the prayers took place. Not happy, lonely LibDem Mr Bone went to court. It seems he’s not too keen on democracy.
Interestingly, and with a sigh of relief from many, the judge found that Mr Bone’s human rights had not been infringed and it appears the judge took his decision upon what would be described as a narrow technical point. I have bad news for Mr Bone. Parliament doesn’t have much difficulty in dealing with ‘technical points’. Mr Bone is no hero secular warrior. As the voice upon earth of the Bideford branch of the National Secular Society, his action was supported by the larger organisation.
I once regarded the National Secular Society and the British Humanist Association in much the same vein, two organisations which believed in, well, nothing much really and were therefore harmless. I have learnt during my time as an MP that both are very far from harmless, extremely political and intent on imposing their anti-faith view, which is in itself rigid and dogmatic, pursued mainly by zealots, so it can only be described as a form of belief in its own right. This, in a country in which 70% of people describe themselves as Christian.
If the National Secular Society had its way, all vestige of religion would be removed from the state and society. Without doubt, their next move will be to have the same ruling applied to Parliament, but that isn’t going to happen. If Mr Bone had won under section nine of the Human Rights act it can only be imagined what would happen to the Queen as head of the Church of England and her role within the state. Would prayers be said at a Coronation or a state funeral? Would the Queen be able to continue as the Monarch? What would have happened to Remembrance Sunday, bank holidays at Easter and Christmas?
It is only when someone attempts to unpick the accepted fabric of our society that one begins to realise the extent to which the National Secular Society and the British Humanist Association wish to alter our spiritual landscape which is based upon tolerance and freedom. In Parliament, we also have prayers which take place each and every sitting day before the chamber's business commences. The division bell will ring five minutes before and we MPs who wish to participate in prayers attend the chamber. It is an intimate service which takes place before the cameras are switched on, presided over by the Speaker and the House of Commons Chaplain during which we all say the Lord’s Prayer together, pray for the Queen and ask to be given wisdom during the day in executing our duties.
The three minutes of prayer are a time for sombre reflection and always during this time the privilege I have been afforded to serve my constituents in the historic mother of parliaments washes over me as I am sure it does others. It is a wonderful thing to begin your days work saying sorry for what you have done wrong and thank you for all that has gone well. Those MPs of no faith will sit or stand and read the order paper or simply take the time to reflect upon the day ahead. It works for us.
Until this is sorted, and I am sure it can be with existing legislation or via a Statutory Instrument, I would urge Bideford councillors to meet five minutes before their agenda begins until legislation can allow them to continue with a practice which has been in place since the reign of Queen Elizabeth I. It would be a travesty for Mr Bone to win in reality. What is certain though is that re-election for Mr Bone is unlikely. The British people are reasonable by nature and don’t like bullies, and Mr Bone appears to shun one and embody the other.
Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.
American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.
For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine). My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.