Belated happy World Stroke Day, everyone. It went down on 29 October. That means for the 2012 iteration, I would still have been lost in the micronation of Apoplexia. This year, in my incarnation as Nerd Bait’s Wurdz Boy, I was feeling much more peppy.
— Ricky Brown (@ricky_ballboy) October 29, 2014
[This week, I’d totally appreciate it if my lady readeresses (and their gentlemen friends) sign up for the apoplectic.me Tiny Letter distribution and join the fray. Read on to see why….]Yeah. I may have let my gratitude and irreverence get the better of me for a second. Having a stroke sucks, and it’s a bit insensitive not to recognise that, even in the cause of recognising that a stroke is not an insurmountable obstacle to living a full and productive life.
Last Wednesday, Stroke Association UK were all over BBC radio, preaching the gospel of F-A-S-T.
Driving home the importance of knowing the signs of stroke, a Stroke Association survey indicates that 1 in 8 women in Britain don’t believe a stroke could happen to them. BUT, stroke is the third leading cause of death for women in the UK, and 1 in 5 British women will have a stroke in their lifetime.
It’s been a rough few news cycles to be a woman, altogether. Earlier in October, a bunch of nude pictures of female celebrities broke online. Nobody seemed too bothered, except to the extent being miffed about it could generate some eyeballs.
In her (London) Times Magazine piece, Caitlin Moran identified part of the problem. People get a pass to do things on the interwebz — like looking without consent at a young woman’s private photos — because, while
humans have created [a place] in which we can do anything we could do in a real metropolis — shop, chat, meet… we seem to believe the laws that humans painstakingly constructed, for the good of the “meat” world, don’t count.
So, a feminist campaginer friend of Moran’s can receive death threats on Twitter, only to be asked by police, “Why don’t you just… leave?”
Meanwhile, the Prime Minister…
…has declined to be photographed wearing a “This is what a feminist looks like” t-shirt, at the request of Elle magazine. Discussion of this has gone along a number of routes.
- Do we really want Dave wearing the shirt and diluting the message?
- Is this a ploy by Elle to get publicity for their skinny-model-touting tat?
- Are the shirts made in sweatshops?
- If The Daily Mail suggests a thing is bad, is it automatically good?
- Is it weird that Ed Millibrand looks kinda hot in the shirt?
Really, though, the question is, “How can it be acceptable to vote for a man who is against equality for over half of his country’s population?”
To be fair, after Dave refused to apply the term “feminist” to himself last year, he later clarified, “When I was asked that question, what I should have said is, if that means equal rights for women, then yes. If that’s what you mean by feminist, then yes, I am a feminist.”
Dave knows what a feminist is. But his knee-jerk reaction was to disassociate himself from the term. I can only assume that Dave’s confusion arises from him drawing a distinction between (1) vaguely thinking it would be OK for women to have equal rights, and (2) saying anything that might indicate that you might be willing to take too many concrete steps in this direction.
Yet, despite making it pretty clear by words and actions — including promoting austerity policies that disproportionately hit women — that he reckons over half the electorate can jog on, Dave seems to remain within striking distance of forming another government. How can this be?
For an almost impossibly erudite and carefully argued argument of the hows and the whys, I commend to you again Mary Beard’s lecture that was part of the London Review of Books 2014 winter lectures, The Public Voice of Women (available here in audio and written formats, and also as a podcast on iTunes). The lecture goes a long way to explaining (but not excusing) the attitude of the police to Caitlin Moran’s activist friend. It starts very near to the beginning of the tradition of Western literature, with the scene in the Odyssey in which Odysseus’s young son Telemachus tells his mother to shut up and go to her room.
[A]s Homer has it, an integral part of growing up, as a man, is learning to take control of public utterance and to silence the female of the species.
The Odyssey is the second oldest extant work of Western literature, the Iliad being the oldest, and as you can see above, it still echoes in our culture today. And this is far from the only or worst example of sexism in the founding works of our culture’s literature. Little wonder that it is so easy for both men and women to be blind to the pervasive and pernicious effects of sexism in today’s culture. It’s ingrained. It’s normal.
So, please remember being a feminist is believing that women should have equal rights. It’s not something to be ashamed of. On the contrary, it’s a claim that we should all be proud to make in public. And as a small act of feminism, be aware of the signs of stroke and the importance of taking quick action. Remember, stroke is the third leading cause of death for women, with a 20% incidence.