Does the British Public Value the Welfare of Animals More Than The Homeless? By Kelly Grehan

Last year nearly 600 dogs died on the streets on the UK, whilst the number of dogs sleeping rough has increased by 168% since the tories took office in 2010.

Once a rarity, it is now common to see dogs sleeping in doorways, their fur matted, exposed to the elements and to see them searching through bins looking for discarded food to eat.  Lacking means to seek somewhere to live, these dogs, some little more than puppies often suffer from terrible health issues – both physical and mental and without major changes to the system it is hard to see how their situation can improve.

 Can it possibly be right for any dog to be sleeping outside?  Is it not shameful to imagine them being taunted, attacked and ridiculed as they attempt to sleep on our filthy streets up and down the country? Most police authorities do not record data on attacks on dogs, but a recent study by The Guardian gained data from nine forces in the UK which found there were 4,940 attacks recorded against homeless dogs increasing from 493 in 2014 to 1,259 in 2018.

The information in the paragraph above is all accurate…but… you need to replace the word ‘dog’ with the words ‘homeless people’ for it to be true!

I wrote the first section above in that style because I wonder if, the people discussed above were, infact,  animals, if their would be a stronger outcry and a more active response would be generated than it is for humans.

 

Despite the massive rises in homelessness since the tories came to power in 2010, Housing Secretary James Brokenshire recently said that government policies were not to blame and that homelessness is the result of ‘complex factors.’  

While no one disputes that there can be complicated reasons why someone can find themselves on the streets it make no sense why these complexities would have somehow disappeared under the previous Labour administration, only to return on an upward gradient upon the tories regaining office.  

Could the rise be the result of cuts to housing benefit and reduced funding for homelessness services, as well as a lack of affordable homes and regulation in the private rented sector, perhaps? 

In 1999 the Labour government announced its’ intention to eradicate the ‘scandal’ of homelessness. Beneath that objective, the government had put in place the right policy making apparatus to ensure it was delivered. 

The highly effective Louise Casey was appointed head of the Rough Sleepers Unit In December of that year a major report, Coming in from the Cold, set out the measures to reduce rough sleeping by two-thirds by 2002 – which it achieved.

It is nothing short of tragic that all the good work has been undone, not least for those who find themselves sleeping on the streets, but also for what this state of affairs says about us as a society.

Aside from rough sleepers – the visible sign of our failed society – there are all the other people for whom their housing situation continues to ruin their lives.  Having a job no longer insulates you from such problems – indeed the gentlemen who was rough sleeping who died just before christmas had a job!

82,310 households were in temporary accommodation in England, in December with more than 123,600 minors, marking 70 per cent increase since Conservative government came into power.  Shelter claim that 78% of the rise in homelessness over the last six years was due to people being evicted from privately rented homes, leaving them to try to find money for deposits and the other costs associated with moving with little warning or opportunity to save.  

We can only speculate at the impact their circumstances are having on the health, educational attainment and morale of these children.  

It is often said that a society should be judged on how it treats those most in need, most vulnerable and the weakest – there can be no doubt that this country must be judged wanting.

 

 

 

Why Abuse Of Women In Politics Hinders Democracy By Kelly Grehan

100 years on from some women gaining the vote in the UK and 99 years from the same action in the US you would think women’s participation in the political process would be accepted, if not completely ordinary and unworthy of comment.  However, far from being the case, women in politics remain viewed as interlopers and unwelcome by many.  

 

Let’s look at the evidence for why I say this: 

 

This week, 29 year old Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who is described as a rising star in the American Democrat Party, faced the seemingly inevitable abuse that comes with being a woman in politics.

A right wing website published an image showing a woman’s bare feet in the bath, under the headline: “Here’s the photo some people described as a nude selfie of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.”  

The photo was, as it happens, not of the Congresswoman, but that’s not really the point.  

 As Ocasio-Cortez wrote on Twitter the actions of the Daily Caller were “just a matter of time” as “women in leadership face more scrutiny [than men]. Period.” She went on to say :

 

Last week attempts to shame the same Congresswoman by releasing a video of her dancing from a few years before backfired when she responded with a new video of her dancing:

 https://twitter.com/AOC/status/1081234130841600000

Over 80% of women in politics, globally have experinced sexist or sexually humiliating remarks, gestures or threats and harassment which fell outside the normal political debate.  

Then there is the bizarre judgement of any women in fertility being, as former Australian Prime Minister said Even before becoming prime minister, I had observed that if you are a woman politician, it is impossible to win on the question of family.

If you do not have children then you are characterised as out of touch with ‘mainstream lives’. If you do have children then, heavens, who is looking after them?I had already been chided by a senior conservative Senator for being ‘deliberately barren.’

 

Men just do not face this kind of commentary of their circumstances.  

  

Seeking to humiliate women in politics is just the tip of the iceberg: last year a global survey of women in politics, found that 44% had faced serious abuse, including threats of murder, rape and assault.  As  SNP MP,  Mhairi Black said ‘”I’m bored of gender. I’m bored of being told I should be raped and bored of being told I’m too ugly to be raped.”

 

Jess Phillips, who, lest we forget, lost her friend, MP Jo Cox to murder by a member of the far right tweeted this week:

 

With about a 50% chance of threats of violence and sexual assault hanging over them, is it any wonder so few women want to get involved in politics?

 

Globally more than 10,500 women served as national parliamentarians in 2017, accounting for around 23 percent of total parliamentarians worldwide. In the UK, over the last century there have been just 491 female MPs and more than 4,000 male MPs.

 

A Report, Violence Against Women In Politics, published last year found that reports that ‘growing acts of violence serve as a strong barrier to women accessing their right to participate fully and equally in politics and public life.’

 

Normalising the abuse of public figures – and dismissing sexism and misogyny in the political world – as simply the ‘cost of doing politics’ has devastating consequences for the quality of democracy – Around one third of female politicians who have threatened with violence online stopped expressing their opinions there or withdrew from public conversations as a result. We cannot know the number of brilliant women who are deterred from entering politics because of fear of bringing violence upon themselves and their families, but there can be no doubt there are many.

Let us be in no doubt, the  abuse of women is pushed by those who believe women have no place in politics and so must be shamed, smeared and harassed until they give up.

 It is for all good people to stand up against those with this agenda.

Why Ousting This Conservative Government Is A Matter Of Life Or Death for Millions in The U.K. By Lisa Mulholland

It’s been a while since I’ve written. I edit and publish blogs for the Avenger but I lacked the headspace I needed to write. Editing is one thing but to actually formulate something and put it out into an article yourself takes a lot. And I just haven’t been able to sift through the overwhelming political material that has been hitting us left right and centre

Because anger without being mentally or physically able to take action for me is just wasted energy and it leads to frustration. I didn’t have the capacity for that.

However some things cannot be ignored.

Some things rip you out of your hiatus and put fire in your belly. And I can’t switch off any longer and really neither should any of us. That fire needs to go somewhere. For many in poverty this is now a matter of life or death.

So here I am. Writing. Putting my energy somewhere.

What pulled me out of it? Well that’s an interesting question because let’s face it we have a whole treasure chest of things to choose from: Brexit, The Government in contempt of Parliament, Brexit again, Theresa May facing a vote of no confidence, the absolute mess of negotiations and oh wait…

The. United Nations Report on Extreme Poverty. Here. In the UNITED KINGDOM!!!

Yes. The U.K. ‘Great’ Britain. Blighty.

Our wonderful little island… has been investigated for its ‘cruel’ austerity policies. The UN has gone so far as to call it “social engineering”.

Up until now, I knew we had a poverty problem caused by austerity. I’ve seen the statistics. I know that 1 in 4 children in the U.K. now live in poverty. I’ve seen the figures for foodbank usage. I also know that there are 130,000 homeless children in the U.K. and there are so many more depressing figures to report on. Each statistic is worthy of its own dedicated blog. The Trussell Trust and Shelter are awash with depressing facts and figures.

I’ve seen commons debates over the universal credit roll out. I’ve seen Corbyn trying desperately to halt that rollout. He’s managed to delay it quite a bit but the inevitable has happened and we are now almost peak rollout.

So with baited breath I forced myself to read the report. I delayed it slightly because I knew that once I read it there would be no going back for me and that I wouldn’t be able to shut off from it any longer. My ‘red pill/ blue pill Matrix’ moment has arrived.

The special rapporteur of extreme poverty and human rights Professor Philip Alston, conducted an investigation spanning a few months.

He traveled the length and breadth of the U.K. interviewing, those in poverty, from a wide range of backgrounds. He went on a fact finding mission, along with in depth analysis of our benefit system and austerity measures, interviews with ministers, local councils and charities to name but a few.

He did not hold back on what he had to say. The report was scathing and harshly worded and rightly so. I have summarised his report statement below:

• U.K. is the fifth largest economy with a system of government that is the envy of many countries.

• So it is therefore unjust and contrary to British values that so many are in poverty.

• He highlights the growth in homelessness, including rough sleepers and foodbank usage. It’s exponential rise has been since 2010, when austerity measures were introduced by the Conservative government.

• Local councils have been “gutted” with library closures in record numbers, which compounds the breakdown of community

• 14 million people in the U.K. are now in poverty.

• 4 million of those in poverty live 50% below the poverty line.

• 1.5 million of those are destitute. Meaning they can not afford basics such as food, or shelter.

• An estimated 40% of children live in poverty although the official amount is 1 in 4.

• He calls it “social calamity” and an “economic disaster”.

• He calls the government a “lone stubborn actor” in this mess. Councils, charities and other organisations have tried to step in.

• He says the government are in a “determinedly state of denial”.

• He uses words like “callous” and “social engineering” to describe our government.

The full statement and official summary of his report is here https://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=23881&LangID=E

These are strong words. This is a damning report. He makes no bones when he says that “austerity inflicted on people” is “unnecessary because it hasn’t saved any money but it has cost a significant amount to implement these policies”.

He admits that the government are overturning the Beveridge report, which is what preceded the implementation of the welfare state.

But he did commend the work of charities and local councils who try to do their best and be creative under terrible circumstances, as well as local communities.

Worryingly though, he said that, overall the British nature of being “compassionate towards those who are suffering is now being replaced with a mean spirited approach to those less fortunate than themselves.”

A sorry state of affairs.

Not only are people in this country being subjected to the cruelty of Universal Credit, which he states is the “ultimate embodiment of the promotion of austerity and the dismantling of the welfare state”. But the very nature of us as a nation, once known for our compassionate nature, is being worn down by a callous government.

So what is next for us a nation?

Well Professor Alston predicts that if things carry on the way they are that the economic uncertainty around Brexit and the continual fall of the pound, coupled with the continuation of the Universal Credit rollout will lead to a 7% increase in child poverty by 2022. That’s on top of the staggering figures we’ve seen in the present day.

He does say that as a nation these problems and the extreme poverty could “easily be reversed” if the government follows a set of recommendations that he makes. They are pretty clear and prescriptive.

Will this conservative government implement his changes?

Did the British media react with the outrage that this report deserves?

The simple answer is no.

While lots of media outlets touched on this report, many did not give it the attention it deserves.

Whether or not that is because they are preoccupied with Brexit and the Conservative party currently imploding, remains to be seen.

My personal view is a lot more cynical than that.

When this report was presented to Amber Rudd, the DWP Secretary she reacted with complete denial, and disgust.

Not towards the figures.

Not towards the plight of millions of people that she is supposed to represent.

Not towards the fact that money was available to the treasury to avoid and stop this problem.

No; she was disgusted that this report was even written!!!

So even with the vote of no confidence tonight… even with the government being held in contempt of parliament, and the complete pantomime that has occurred in this last week in the House Of Commons… all since this report was published, even with all that the conservatives still haven’t learned.

There is no ounce of shame. No ounce of humility. No sign of remorse .

Even if Theresa May loses this vote tonight; she will be replaced by someone in her party who will not give any regard to the abject poverty and suffering of so many people in this nation.

People have died, with no food in their stomachs. People would starve if it were not for British people donating food. Children are entering foodbanks and vomiting when they finally have the chance to eat.

So, for many, unless this conservative Government is ousted, it will be a matter of life or death.

We now have it in writing from a completely independent well respected source. One that is not politically motivated.

These words are not from the opposition. But from a well respected United Nations Professor, who is politically neutral. And Australian. He has no political points to score. He said “Austerity and the rise of poverty since 2010 is a political choice” made by the government. The Conservatives. Fact.

Owen Jones said “when the next Election comes it will be the fight of our lives” and he is absolutely right.

So when that time comes we absolutely have to do everything in our power to fight against this. Because it could be our friends, our family, our neighbour. And one day it could be you.

Sources

The Trussell Trust

Shelter

United Nations Special Report on Poverty in the U.K.

We Care Campaign By Katy Styles

I am one of 7 million unpaid carers in the UK. I care for my husband full-time. He has a rare form of motor neurone disease called Kennedy’s Disease. He’s losing the ability to walk, to breathe and to swallow. 

I didn’t have caring in my life plan, but then who does?

I regularly meet people who have not been identified as carers. They see themselves as partners, siblings, friends and neighbours, but crucially they do not recognise themselves as carers.

I didn’t know I was a carer.

I thought I was simply a wife with a poorly husband. It wasn’t until I was told in a meeting that I was Mark’s carer that it hit me. That was the term that defined me. 

 

In 2016 I took part in a government consultation. The then Minister for Care wanted to have carers views on what their lives were like. I readily took the opportunity to say what the impact of caring had been on me. I had gone from earning £150 a day as a teacher, to caring for my husband, claiming Carers Allowance totalling £64.60 a week. I encouraged other carers to take part in the consultation as I thought the more carers who took part the greater the understanding of our role. 

 

We were promised a Carers’ Strategy and we waited. There was a snap general election. The election brought a new Minister. No one seemed to be concerned that there was no news about the Carers Strategy. I felt my precious time, and that of my fellow carers had been wasted on the consultation. It made me think that our contributions were not worth anything to the civil servants and to government as a whole. 

 

It was at this point I realised carers could use their own voices to campaign on their issues. I volunteer with a charity as a campaigner.

It has taught me two powerful lessons.

Firstly, that our personal stories are the most powerful testimony. Secondly, that you can achieve change if you just believe you can.

 

In January 2018 I created a petition calling on the government to publish their promised, and long-awaited Carers Strategy. This was nearly 2 years after the announcement of their original consultation. 

 

By this time, we were on our third Minister for Care since the Carers Strategy consultation began. 

So, in April 2018 I founded the We Care Campaign, with the help of some of my friends. We created infographics, videos, logos, badges, and held a launch event in Canterbury to raise the profile of the campaign. We invited local carers to the launch where they could discuss their issues with the Canterbury MP, Rosie Duffield. Some carers had never met their MP before, nor had the opportunity to explain their worries and concerns. 

 

During Carers’ Week we hosted the Shadow Minister for Social Care, Barbara Keeley, in a twitter question and answer session. It was important to create an event that gave carers who were at home an easy opportunity to make their voices heard, and ask questions directly of Barbara. It was a real digital coup and got the attention of bigger charities. It’s amazing what can be achieved with no budget, as long when you have amazing volunteers, supporters and allies. 

 

What I hadn’t expected during the We Care campaign was that it would galvanise carers support organisations from across the UK to start campaigning for a Carers Strategy. All were fed up waiting for Government to act. The petition was featured on carers support organisations websites, and in their online publications. Carers across the UK wrote letters to their own MPs, and met their MPs. People got behind the campaign petition and started sending it out to their friends and families. Social media was utilised as well as local radio and newspapers. The petition closed with 2,124 signatures. 

 

But more than just the numbers, we ended with a movement of people up and down the country who will continue to join our call to get carers valued.

 

We want to see what can be done to increase Carers Allowance valuing the contributions of unpaid carers. From this summer, carers in Scotland receive £8 a week more than carers in England, so care is valued differently.  We must also seek to make sure all carers are identified so they can access support and know their rights. 

 

If you are a carer join our Facebook group search We Care Campaign and join our twitter @WeAreCarers for updates. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Loss of Small Businesses Means Loss of Community By Kelly Grehan

I have to be honest and say I have always hated shopping.  If I can buy something online, rather than venture to my local shopping centre I will.

Since the internet became popular I do buy increasing numbers of things from craft and independent retailers because I like the niche products they often stock.  

I started running a Toy Appeal five years ago, which now collects around 1,500 gifts for children assisted by local charities and it would not be such a success without the support of small businesses.  

We write to all the big multinational companies who have a shop in our town and ask for support and they inevitably reply saying they cannot help.  

Small businesses however regularly get in touch volunteering to be drop off points, running collections and donating toys, as well as sharing our social media adverts.

Now, I appreciate that big retail shops will say that they make big donations to a chosen charity and that some have a place for food bank donations, but my experience has convinced me that the loss of independent shops on the high street has meant we have lost more than just the goods or services they sold – it has caused the loss of community.  

Local businesses have a stake in the community, they are reliant on the same amenities as their customers.  

In fact research shows that £10 spent with a local independent shop means up to an additional £50 goes back into the local economy.

This is simply because the nearby shop owners, who you are spending your money with, will then put that money back into your local community by going into local pubs and restaurants etc, thus circulating the money and allowing your community to thrive.

Interestingly local employers are more likely to pay a higher average wage than their commercial chain counterparts.  

Then there is the benefit for people of going to shops where the butcher (for example) knows their name and they know his or hers.

Those small things can mean the world of difference to locals, some of which can be suffering from loneliness and don’t often have the opportunity to speak to people face to face on a daily basis. To have a chat with the local staff and feel valued by local businesses who might know your ‘usual’ coffee, or just how you like your sandwich when you pop into your local cafe, does wonders for some. Humans are social creatures after all.

So next time you have the option to ‘buy local’ , it’s really important to remember the wider benefits that small businesses have on the local community.

This Saturday is Small Business Saturday, so I am pledging to think more about what I buy and where I buy it and whether I can be a better consumer for the community.

It would make the world of difference if we all could now and again.

No, Shaun Bailey, We Don’t Want a Re-run of John Major’s ‘Back To Basics’ Campaign By Kelly Grehan

I’ve never been a single mother, I wasn’t raised by one and all being well, with my children now aged 9 and 12 I won’t ever be one.  So Tory London Mayoral Candidate Shaun Bailey’s comments on single mothers have no real reason to impact on me, except that they do irritate me.  

I am tired of this judgemental attitude to family life.

 In a research paper published in 2005, Shaun Bailey said a two-parent household – “should be the norm”, as opposed to single mothers, and that good-looking girls tend to “have been around”.  

It reminds me very much of the ‘Back to Basics’ rhetoric popularised by the Major Government of the 1990s.  During 1993, Britain was going through what has been characterised as a mora panic on the issue of single mothers. Government ministers regularly made speeches on the issue, such as John Redwood’s condemnation of “young women [who] have babies with no apparent intention of even trying marriage or a stable relationship with the father of the child” from July 1993, and Peter Lilley’s characterisation of single mothers as “benefit-driven” and “undeserving” from the same year. 

 The Back to Basics campaign is probably now better remembered now for the humiliation it bought on the tory party as soon afterwards various ministers (too many to mention here) had to resign after various sex scandals, including some, such as Tim Yeo fathering children through affairs, and John Major later being found to have had an affair with Edwina Currie during the same period.  

However, for people growing up in the 1990s such as myself, this discourse formed the backdrop of our youth.  

Newspaper stories on single parents were always accompanied by a teen pushing a double buggy. Even as a teenager, it struck me as being unfair and caused me to wonder why the demonisation of absent fathers was missing from the attacks. 

Now, having raised my two children through synchronised diaries and teamwork with my husband I cannot say how much I admire my friends who are single parents.  

I imagine knowing there is no one to pick you up if you fall is very lonely, not having anyone to share the joy and worry with must be very isolating.  But they persist.

What I really hate is this constant pitting of one type of family as better than another – the idea we should judge other people by their circumstances.  

 Where does it get us?  

Our culture seems to be transforming into one where we find someone different to us and look down on them.  But then, I suppose this is no different to our Victorian past, where being illegitimate caused a stigma a person could never escape from.  

I believe this stigmatisation is not something we should accept today.  

It certainly does not serve to prevent or solve the poverty many single parents find themselves in, or help them solve the childcare problems that make work so hard for so many.  

There are 2 million single parents in the UK, less than 2% of which are teenagers and 67% of whom are in work, yet 47% are in poverty.  

Imagine that; working hard, managing school pick up times, dealing with all the adventures and difficulties parenting throw at you and still not being able to make ends meet, living with the fear of not knowing what will happen if you don’t deal with every problem life gives you.  

Rather than condemnation I suggest the tories look at why so many children of working parents can possibly be growing up in poverty and get on with doing something about it!

 

 

 

 

When Will It Be A Good Time To Be A Woman? When Women Are Not Held Responsible For The Actions Of Sexually Deviant Men By Kelly Grehan

Today, 11th October, marks the ‘International Day Of The Girl’.

The day aims to highlight and address the needs and challenges that girls face , while promoting girls’ empowerment and the fulfilment of their human rights.

100 years after some women gained the right to vote and at a time when girls persistently outperform boys at school, some may ask do we in the West still need to mark this day?

The answer to that is simply yes. And here is why…

Last week whilst mocking the testimony Dr Christine Blasey Ford gave against Brett Kavanaugh, the US President Donald Trump said ” It’s a very scary time for young men in America”. He then gave his concerns for young men in America being falsely accused of sexual assault. The President was then asked if he had a message for young women, to which he replied ” Young women are doing great”…

Sadly, Trump’s lack of respect for women is well documented: during the 2016 election campaign, at least 15 women accused Trump of misbehaviour. Ranging from sexual harassment and sexual assault to lewd behaviour around women.

They came forward in the wake of a 2005 ‘ Access Hollywood’ tapes that was released in October 2016, in which he was caught saying ” When you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything… Grab them by the pussy. You can do anything”.

The fact a man who bragged about sexually assaulting women was subsequently elected says that this remains a dangerous time to be a woman.

Coincidentally, last week, a lot of attention was given to some American research into the answers that men and women gave when asked about the precautionary safety measures they take before going out.

Here is a summary of what men and women said;

 I, like many others I expect, discussed this with men I know. They were sceptical that women really took these precautions. Yet women’s conversations were awash with how accurate the list was. And so I realised that a gulf exists between the way that women live their lives and the way that men perceive how women live.

From childhood, girls are taught to think ahead, and prepare, lest they be a victim to a male predator in some way or another. For example the following rules are often taught:

To go to the toilet in pairs;

To never walk down an alley;

To keep curtains closed when home alone at night;

To not let a drink leave your sight;

And a whole host of other things that we just don’t teach our sons.

We know, as women, that should we become victims; we will be quizzed as to whether we took appropriate precautions. Presumably to determine whether or not we are ‘ the right sort of victim.’ Don’t believe me? Look at how female victims are defamed by the press or in court:

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/oct/08/husband-murdered-media-melanie-clark-domestic-violence-deaths?CMP=fb_cif

https://www.theguardian.com/society/2017/jun/17/we-didnt-recognise-that-he-was-dangerous-our-father-killed-our-mother-and-sister

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/crime/rape-sexual-history-assault-cross-examine-trial-court-voices4victims-plaid-cymru-mp-liz-savile-a7570286.html

Let us not forget the most significant rule we bestow on our daughters: to always think about how their clothing impacts everyone else.

Every week the tabloid newspapers and magazines treat us to their ‘analysis’ of what various celebrities have worn. Women are expected to ‘cover up’ in various buildings around the world and are constantly told they their top is ‘too low/ high’ or their skirt is ‘too short/ long’ etc.

We also know that any time a women is a victim of any sexual assault she can expect some sort of judgement about what she wore and what ‘messages it sent’.

Men, gladly, don’t experience the everyday harassment that women can expect wherever they go. And by this I mean:

  • The cat- calls;

  • The men who come and sit next to women on trains and ask personal questions;

  • The men who shout things like “state of that” when a woman walks past;

  • The men who think that it is ok to comment on waitresses bra straps;

  • The men who think it is ok to talk over women when making points during meetings;

  • The men who like to reduce women in high places , where they may be the only woman there, as ” the bird”.

All these are REAL examples I got from a group of friends in a brief conversation this week.  I don’t think it crosses decent men’s minds that this goes on. But it does go on.  It is the backdrop to the lives women live.

A significant, but not unusual example of this occurred last month when Ariana Grande (25)  was given the honour of singing at the funeral of Aretha Franklin.

The occasion was somewhat overshadowed when Bishop Charles Ellis III (60), who was officiating the ceremony decided to take the opportunity to grope Ariana.

 Later he apologised for his behaviour saying :

It would never be my intention to touch any woman’s breast … I don’t know, I guess I put my arm around her. Maybe I crossed the border, maybe I was too friendly or familiar but, again, I apologise.  I hug all the female and male artists.  Everybody that was up, I shook their hands and hugged them. That’s what we are all about in the church. We are all about love.”

And so he returned to his job with no consequences at all. As #RespectAriana began trending, the usual cries of “why did she not say anything” and “why was she wearing a short dress to a funeral” started too.

Later that same week, Maureen Lipman was given space in several newspapers to drone on about how women dress, saying:

 All this bondage clothing – dressed a bit like a prostitute would have dressed.  But if you speak to a real feminist, they’ll say, ‘It’s my body.’ Young female pop stars today, for example, are saying: ‘It’s my body, and I’m empowered to show it to you.’ But then: ‘Don’t touch it, don’t come near it, don’t flirt with it.’ And that is a bit of a shame because flirting is some of the best fun you’ve ever had in your life.’’

Lipman then went on to defend Roman Polanski and Woody Allen!

Now, have you ever read an article where elderly male actors feel the need to refer to the dress choices of young male artists?  

In fact have you ever read an article anywhere where anyone points out the failings of a man’s choice of outfit?  

Then there is Lipman’s use of the words ‘real feminist.’  

What do we suppose she means by that?  

I’m a feminist and I could not care less what anyone else is wearing, whether it be a burka or a bikini.  

It seems that the patriarchy now wants to decide what being a ‘real feminist’ constitutes too.

This week Penguin books reacted angrily when their pop-up shop in a branch of Top Shop was cancelled just before the shop opened, with the display already set up.  

Any guesses what the book was about?  

It is a collection called Feminists Don’t Wear Pink, and Other Lieslaunched in support of the charity ‘Girl Up.’  

Can we even guess why Phillip Green decided this was not a good fit for his brand?  

No, I can’t think either.

But, as every girl knows, dressing conservatively does not mean that moronic men will leave you alone.

In fact, one in three girls in the U.K. has been sexually harassed in public while wearing a school uniform, and two thirds of girls have said they have experienced unwanted sexual attention in public.

The figures come from a report by children’s charity Plan International UK; which said that many girls feel that street harassment “is all part of growing up”. The saddest thing is that with our culture being the way it is, it is difficult to argue that their perception is wrong.

The truth is misogyny continues to run through our culture.  As women, we adjust our lifestyles to fit with the expectations and restrictions placed upon us.  

We need to take decent men with us on our fight to smash the patriarchy.