Thursday, 31 December 2009


I was reluctant to go, not being a lover of splashy special effects and not much else. Also violence nowadays goes way past my tolerance so I was all ready to leave and go home if necessary.

I liked it. A lot. There was a great deal more than special effects. The violence was there but it illustrated genuine conflict rather than the usual gory porn - of which there was none.

It has its flaws. I'll leave the in-depth discussion to after the READ MORE link so if you haven't seen it stop here.

But I'd recommend it.
Special effects A
Violence control B
Gender balance A
Characters B
Dialogue C (but with some good moments)
Politics B
Beauty A
The Na'vi are Noble Savages of classic kind: physically stronger and more agile than civilised humans; morally aware, deeply interconnected; religious without being cowed; linked to ancestors, passionate, loyal, aggressive and generous.

Cameron uses a blend of various tribal cultures to bring them alive for us. They have dreadlocked hair, painted skin, plaited and crafted decorative jewellery, belts etc.
This can easily be seen as stereotyping even racist. But how else do we create poetic images of an ancestral culture? The Na'vi are as much drawn from white Celtic ancestry as from colonial peoples on other continents. (The Celts were the early colonised too of course but they were white subordinates, mainly of the English.)

The military-industrial complex as the Enemy is vividly presented in ways that Left or radical rhetoric find it hard to do. The massive machines crunch and threaten what is human, supposedly to serve humans by extracting vital resources. The soldiers are manipulated with pep talks about 'survival' against 'hostiles' in a realistic way.
The human world is "dead" and all human scenes are shown in metallic colours that emphasise their techno, alienated state. The contrast with the quiveringly alive colours of the Na'vi world is obvious.

Ultimately although Avatar makes a brave picture of persons standing up to a machinelike civilisation, the ending is naive. The desperation for minerals (or fuels) would bring back a great force of conquest. But that is to disregard the nature of the film which is heroic saga, fantasy epic, rather than sustained political realism.
Cameron points his doom warning like an ancient prophet, rather than a political economist. But the warning is there loud and clear.

In religious terms Avatar is very good, a Pagan world realised. We have the Earth Mother who is immanent spirit in all things. We only borrow our lives and must give them back. The Na'avi thank the beasts they kill to eat as their relatives - trees, plants, animals are "all our relations."
But the Goddess is said not to interfere in the struggles on the planet, yet then she does - which disappointed me. I liked the first point better. However the animals drawn into the final battle could well have responded to the Na'avi under threat as their "cousins" so it becomes a moot point whether this is the deity or not. Such is the difficulty with an immanent "everywhere" divinity.

Though beasts are nominally respected in the most intense scenes with them, they are not. They are dominated. A young warrior is expected to duel with a flying dragon beast and subdue it much like "breaking" a horse. Why was there no "dragon whispering"? Why no partnership with the beast?
Nonetheless although the Paganism is flawed it is thrillingly there in a better realised screen presentation than I have ever seen before.

Politically Avatar is weak. The military and scientific groups among humanity are conventional and realistic enough. But the tribal politics are crude, a king and priestess and a bunch of warrior hunters. What did they use to navigate conflict in decisions? Was there a Council?
It appears that our hero can send out orders and get them obeyed by other tribes. How? Why? Because he had taken on the powers of legend. But how otherwise did the Na'vi mediate conflict and determine their laws?
Tal tells me that there is much more detail in the Pandorapedia that was not evident in the film.

Avatar is excellent on gender. We have a heroine who is strong, skilful, active and innovative - she does not just reflect the feelings or follow but initiates. Several times, including the crucial last event, she rescues our hero. Where else on the big screen does the final duel have heroine rescue hero? - except in comedy perhaps. Yet it is more interesting than that for that last duel has hero rescue heroine, who then repays the favour. Neat.
Nor is the heroine an isolated example of strong women. There's a scientist who has the breadth of mind to understand much of the Na'vi meaning. She attempts to block the military agenda but unsurprisingly fails.
There's also a great pilot who flies into battle with heroic wisecracking courage.
Among the Na'vi there's a queenly priestess plus a glimpse of another female leader.

I'm perhaps asking too much of the big screen in feeling even so there was a lack of gender depth. Unlike the Serenity/ Firefly opus which I recently much enjoyed discovering, the females in Avatar only connect to males and service their needs. Principally the hero's. But Serenity/ Avatar shows that gender balance can be imagined in-depth. Avatar had to please its backers no doubt so we couldn't go too far on gender. So B rather than A.

Oh but did I mention the sex scene was a bore? I liked the restraint, as heaving blue giant bodies would have made me heave. But why didn't they join their telepathic plaits - or do something other than a boring American kiss n cuddle?

Where Avatar gets murky, inspite of its many remarkably good points, is the white American rescuer hero. As Will Heaven at the Telegraph points out in no uncertain terms, the theme of the white rescuer is dubious. Tribal people, this theme tells us, cannot lead themselves out of trouble: they need the superior white guy to do that for them.

The point is hard to tease out. Yes Jake is a white American male, and a soldier at that. A conqueror. He bags the native princess and by her Pocahontas sponsorship wins acceptance in the tribe so he can later be its saviour.
But in Avatar he does it by becoming a Na'vi far more intimately than living among the tribe, adopting their dress and learning their language. He lives in a Na'vi body. So as he becomes the incarnation of an ancient Na'vi folk hero, he does it as a Na'vi. He looks to us like a Na'vi and his retuirn visits to his human body almost become an irritating diversion. As he says his human life has become the dream, his Na'vi life has become his reality.

There is also the pragmatic point that he can become the saviour of the Na'vi specifically because he has inside knowledge of the human military machine. This neatly reverses his original mission to spy on the Na'vi from the inside!
He can therefore exploit a blend of Na'vi ancestral knowledge of the territory, with his own trained knowledge of his own (?) people's weapons and tactics.
Tal comments: Knowing, for example, that while the Na'vi bows cannot harm military gunships when shooting from the ground upwards, when shooting from Ikran-back (Na'vi flying beasts), with the added speed of the beasts flight behind the arrow, they can pierce a gunships canopy.

Yet even allowing that Jake becomes a Na'vi as much as an outsider possibly could, even living in a Na'vi body, and that his leadership twins Na'vi folk legend, intimacy with territory and human knowledge of human military resources, even so. He is still white American male rescuing the native tribe. He's not a Na'vi person emerging from Na'vi life to save the day.
This is perhaps too much for America to stomach. After all they only just permitted themselves a black president. Autonomous heroes of colour will have to wait a bit.

Nor do we see much of other Na'vi wisdom; command politics again. A council of war would have been interesting with different ideas hashed out. Perhaps we can forgive that one in the cause of heroic legend.
He does, Tal reminds me, claim a "right to speak" among the senior Na'vi before everyone gathered. Implicit is the idea that all Na'vi have this right. But we don't see how conflict is discussed and mediated. Since Cameron is criticising the dominance type of system exemplified by the military industrial complex, I feel he should have shown more of its alternative option.

Over all as I said I liked it very much criticisms notwithstanding. I do not bother to critique what I do not respect. I came away strengthened, inspired, confirmed in so much that means so much to me.
The interconnectedness of life. Ecology. Strong women partnering men who can be vulnerable as well as strong for themselves. Sheer beauty. Violence portrayed as a conflict rather than mere gore. Dreamlike other reality.

Avatar for all its faults has a real grandeur. It's glorious especially to a Pagan. So go see it and get the DVD.

Sunday, 20 December 2009

Vengeance is mine, says the judge

It's now a week since I collapsed weeping in the supermarket. I hasten to add nothing bad has happened to me and mine, or not directly. No I wept for a stranger, aman named Munir Hussein.

Catherine Bennett's blog today in the Guardian, is a useful model article of all the bad arguments in the Munir Hussain case.

Munir Hussein, a pillar of respectability, a businessman known as The Peacemaker, is at the heart of a legal uproar about burglary and violence.
He came home with his wife and children to find burglars. They tied him up, and his family, beat him up, stated they would be killed, and held them at knifepoint. But his son got away and got help, his uncle who lived nearby.
Once the thugs saw their game was up they fled with a freed Munir, his brother and two neighbours in hot pursuit, bearing a cricket bat and a metal pole as makeshift weapons.
Two got away but Samir was broght down and battered, causing some brain damage.

Munir Hussain and his brother have been jailed for years. The judge explained that if he did not jail them it would undermine our "civilised society."

Munir's mother had just died. His wife was recovering from a stroke, and under the strain of the case, she has had a second one. Munir's successful business may have to close, putting 100 households into unemployment. These are not legalities but the whole mess made me weep for Munir and his family.

The ensuing debate has touched on the rawest nerve in Britain today. Public discussion has been fast and furious, the enormous majority on one side of the drawn lines.

Mr. Mercer MP when he asked for the most important change in the law that British people wanted, got the overwhelming response that people wanted the right to defend their homes - with violence, and without fear of going to jail for it.
Mercer's proposed law was then suppressed by the Government.

Catherine Bennett (Guardian) opens her comment today by mourning the damaged cricket bat. That immediately sets her tone as trivial and abusive of the serious issues involved.
Read on for a methodical analysis of the issues.

Catherine Bennett (Guardian) opens comment today by mourning the damaged cricket bat Munir used to batter Samir with, which sets her tone as trivial and abusive of the serious issues involved. A lot more irrelevant chaff follows.

Mind you there has been some excellent humour in the debate. Try this one.
"The poor lambs who argue that Mr. Hussain should have made a citizens arrest and held the knifeman until the police arrived haven't a clue. They have no conception at all of what a knife carrying street fighter is like. The starry eyed darlings would have their blood and guts all over the pavement before they had finished saying "Stop and give yourself up or I shall be forced to give you a reasonably hard but not life threatening or otherwise seriously damaging blow about your person with my cricket bat."
[Klough commenting on Catherine Bennett, Guardian today]

Picking out the actual points scattered in Catherine's article we find reference to “a carful of supporters” – untrue. No car brought help, his help was Munir’s brother and two neighbours.
Four respectable men with makeshift weapons up against three violent thugs with knives seems entirely proportional, even heroic.

Catherine then rightly says this is “a land where faith in law enforcement has all but broken down” and there is “a general rage against police uselessness, against lenient sentencing.”
Less than 10% of burglars suffer any negative result so “those of us who … are forced to rely on conventional justice” are left radically unprotected.

Catherine then insults the mass of men for their protective anger for their families’ safety. I would rather honour it, and the men who feel it. Nor do I appreciate Catherine insulting women as well as men; if alone without my bloke, I’d not use a “rolled yoga mat”– I have a trusty and very heavy iron frying pan.

But she is right that Munir’s violence was not strictly self defence.
As she says the jury HAD to convict. Currently, that's the law.
BUT the judge did not HAVE to jail Munir.

Catherine supports the judge’s view that without jailing Munir we’d have a Hobbesian brutality where “the rule of law counts for nothing.” But this is nonsense. "Civilised society" already counts for very little – 10% clearup rates, police no go areas, violent criminals like the one who attacked Munir's family, with 50 convictions yet roaming free.

Jailing Munir is no remedy at all. That's like elastoplast on gangene. Instead, supporting Munir’s justified rage that his life and his family’s lives were threatened, would provide a hefty deterrent to thugs. People, police and even criminals agree. So what doesn't this judge and his good little girl admirer Catherine Bennett, not understand?

I would MUCH prefer to see police supported properly to do their job effectively. Once they were, up to about 1980. But for a generation the police have been more and more obstructed.
It is also questionable if they could cope even if properly supported. A 20% underclass and rising is flooded with alcohol as cheap as water, available almost 24 hours a day. They have no hope since the education system has been wrecked, and are continually and insistently told everywhere they look, that they are worthless scum unless they have all the latest material goods.

The result is predictable. Theft and violence in epidemic propertions. It is also going to get much worse.

So as this goes far beyond the bounds of police resources next best is to allow us to both defend ourselves, AND deter violence, as Munir did. Police and law cannot do it for us any more.

Much is made of the fact that Samir was running away afterwards. But Munir was still in the immediate aftermath of a death threat. He'd been tied up, threatened for his life, seen his beloved wife and chil;dfren in danger of their lives as well.
The law then asked Munir, in the immediate reaction to such ultimate fear, within minutes, to weigh up his response. He was required to measure out his own violence in a "reasonable" and "appropriate" way.

This is completely unrealistic. Highly trained police can't always do this - and they are not coping with their beloved wife and children in mortal danger. So why do we ask ordinary people to handle more than the professionals?

Peak adrenalin needs up to 15 mins to subside. Until it does no “reasonable” or “appropriate” reaction can be expected. A law that recognised that could give Munir a suspended sentence.

But wait – this judge could have done just this! A suspended sentence is available if Munir is otherwise peaceful and no threat to general society. Many witnesses including police say he is. Very much so. He has been known for years as the Peacemaker.

We must ask why the judge is so far cut off from the reality of ordinary people's lives who are living in a society ruled by fear. Is he blinded by his money? Privilege? Stupidity? I don't know.

Seriously this must be checked because judges should comprehend real life, and protect us, saying in effect BURGLARS BEWARE!

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Kipling: assessing someone in another time

It is right and proper to use the values of our own time to assess someone in another time. That is natural, and it is also essential.

However we must ALSO try to understand the person in the context of their times.

It is right and proper to use the values of our own time to assess someone in another time. That is natural, and it is also essential.

If we did not do it how could we condemn our Celtic ancestors for head hunting? child sacrifice by Aztecs? Victorian values of slave blacks and women? the beating of children in the 50s?

However we must ALSO try to understand the person in the context of their times. Is their attitude to another class or race standard in their times? Then they are just normal at that time. the exceptional person who did challenge what we now see as injustice might be particularly honoured.

But the person who did not should not be condemned. They should simply be noted as passively part of their times, on that issue.

They might be admirable on other issues. Kipling had a very independent, intelligent response to Church narrowmindedness for example.

Let's accept that we do not live in a timeless zone. People should be judged by the standards of BOTH our time, and their own.

Friday, 13 November 2009

Cameron's Tory voluntary work

"On a more local level [Camron's policy] would publish booklets giving advice on how a local community could organise on behalf of itself, whether it is parents setting up schools or tenants forming more active associations."

I am not hostile to this, far from it. It would be grand.
But it would need far reaching changes to back it up.

At present people are working far too long hours, are heavily stressed by unjust and corrupt companies and councils. Bullying is epidemic and so is its twin, depression.
If not working long hours people are being cut adrift into the hopelessness and lethargy of unemployment as jobs are cut, debts cannot be serviced, bailiffs become brigands, repossession stalks the land.

I know from bitter experience that organising volunteers in today's climate is almost impossible. People are too exhausted, time starved, depressed and despairing.

More factors need addressing.

Women, who were always traditionally the backbone of the voluntary sector have been pressed into far more paid employment than they actually want. That's the property bubble. It's not going to get better soon as legacy debts still have to be serviced.
In fact a large part of voluntary work lack, desert estates, feral young, is lack of mothering.

People, both women and men, have been de-educated out of working in groups. In trying to run groups I've found it almost impossible over the last decade compared to the previous two decades. People have little or no idea how to put a group beyond individual "complaint." That has been steered so that action groups don't form, and problems are reduced to (weak) individual complaints.

Finally the restrictions on voluntary work by the unemployed are destructive especially in a period of high unemployment. The more voluntary work the better but the huge army of the unemployed is actually prevented from maintaining their morale and contributing to society.
I can't see why the puritanical powers that be couldn't allow a long term unemployed person to stay on benefits given proof of satisfactory voluntary work. It's contributing after all and at a cheap cost.

Anyway reviving and expanding the voluntary sector is going to take a LOT more than encouraging leaflets, and funding. Ken Livingstone and the GLC did just that but those were very different times without the exhaustion and despair, with a pool of women available, and a strong cooperative group ethos available.

Looking at Red Ken's early projects in the GLC would help Cameron a lot. One important lack in that period was long term advice to projects in how to use their funding. Some schemes were simply unrealistic, embarrassingly so. Too many used it to create jobs that when the tap turned off, collapsed the whole project because it had become dependent on those paid workers. Funds need to be used instead, to recruit and coordinate volunteers, to find and renovate cheap ramshackle properties etc that will serve the project even if politics whips away the funds.

It's going to need a lot more than leaflets and funding.

Thursday, 5 November 2009


I have been a barefooter all my life - I'm 60 now.
My mother, now 86 was also one and her mother and brother too. I can tell you that my mama has always been exquisitely elegant in Paris type clothes, perfect make up - and gorgeous toe rings and ankle chains.

The family tradition continues with my huge 18yrs son who has never worn shoes for more than a couple of hours very occasionally for a high formal event like a funeral.

Sigh. We got the constant stupid ignorant question "Can't you afford shoes?" This goes back to the snobbery of the early 20thC when only the well off could afford shoes every day.

Barefooting is not unhealthy, dirty or unsafe.

Read about it and make up your own mind.

Barefooting is not unhealthy, dirty or unsafe.

In fact it's far healthier than wearing shoes which cramp and distort feet creating all kinds of health problems including bad backs.

My son was always far better balanced, better at climbing, and even calmer than other kids in shoes. Shoes HURT when you're not used to them which applies to all small kids.
I watched my son climb Cheddar Gorge around 60ft up - at 8yrs. Perfectly safe, he was like a tough little ape. It's also stood him well for martial arts where he's a demon fighter mostly due to strong sure balance.

Barefooting not dirty. Skin does not make dirt stick like dead skin (leather) or plastics do. The dirt drops off much quicker as you walk into a building so when oters are still tracking it in, you're not.

Bare feet don't get put on tables! or anywhere offensive any more than shoes are.
As for the common question on stepping in muck well you don't. Within weeks you learn to scan without being aware you're doing it. You step in it far less than shoe wearers who tend to be careless where they put their feet.

Bare feet don't SMELL! Sweat doesn't build up, soak into sock or shoe and go stale. It instantly ventilates and the foot stays dry. (This is an important issue for teenage males.)

Barefooting is safe. The skin on the sole rapidly toughens - it takes around 4 - 6 weeks. In fact it becomes tougher than many shoes. In summer when I barefoot more I don't even think about glass, splinters. I can just walk on 'em! and they drop away.
I did wash my son's feet when small in salt water every few nights just in case of tiny cuts but I was probably being overprotective.

Regarding chemicals etc there is very little protection from flip flops either. Liquid splashes in between the sole of sandal and sole of foot.
So most bio- or mineral-hazards are fenced off places, if serious, and only closed in shoes or boots are adequate. same as a building site or science lab.

There ARE a few hazards. Don't walk barefoot at night in the park because of rusty metal sharps, and dirty needles, for which ditto city centres. Don't walk barefoot in tropical countries because of parasites that lie in the earth there.

Otherwise FREE THE FEET!
While getting used to it, do it for longer and longer periods, like breaking in new shoes. Wash in salt water till the skin hardens. Expect to take around 4 - 6 weeks to learn to automatically scan the ground for yuck without noticing you're doing it.

Enjoy the massive sensuality of it. Ground textures are amazingly varied. The strength in bare feet travels up the spine so it's good for posture. Release those poor battered toes from potential bunions and corns, ingrown toenails. Gain a beautiful sense of balance as you move about.

If nothing else do give up shoes indoors. It saves your carpets or flooring because it's so much cleaner than tracking dirt in on shoes: and you get a lot of the benefits from part of each day barefooting.

Shoe manufacturers make a FORTUNE out of the damage you're doing your feet.

Free the feet - or choose not to barefoot.
But at least now you know a bit about it so you won't say (or think) incredibly stupid ignorant things about it.

Link - stunning pic of girl barefooting in snow!

Link Society for Barefoot Living

Friday, 2 October 2009

Ardi our Grandmother

Ardi has emerged as the much older ancestress than Lucy of Africa.
See here.

I don't understand why (some) Christians can't hold their beliefs alongside the theory of evolution.
Nor do I see why evolution excludes the Goddess (and/or God if you prefer.)

Evolution is a theory. It's not fact. It's not "true."
It IS a good theory that holds up pretty well matching the facts we know.
It does however have some problems but then no theory is perfect.
Any theory shatters in contact with realities - they are so complex.

Goddess or God is not a matter of logic. She is a deep meaning in our lives. She is great and powerful enough to BE the force of evolution. No problem.
It's sad (to me) if people can't feel that deep meaning. Being a tiny pointless scrap of a machine universe os horrible and it certainly doesn't match my experience. The Goddess finds it a big joke!

Our latest ancestor looks beautiful. Blessed be.

[No further text ignore link to read more]

Sunday, 30 August 2009

Anne, the Most Happy

No post for a while because I've been setting up "Pagan Britain" email community.

Also lots of Y Mabinogi reading: "Rhiannon" by Gruffydd arrived from the library, and "Celts and Aryans." Oh and a busy day getting Tal enrolled at college.


Thoroughly enjoying the Anne Boleyn Files - one of my greatest heroines together with her daughter Bess. I hate it that Anne is usually shown as a sexy vamp, ignoring her fine mind, especially her significant religious influence, and her acute political acumen.

I am surprised though that Claire on the Anne Boleyn Files doesn't explore the overriding issue of Anne's maternity. It deserves a blog section on its own Claire. I will outline the plot here, including the staggering effect this issue had on Britain's future! and the sexual politics that contributed to Anne's downfall.

I agree with Claire that Henry wanted the impossible. He wanted the independent intellectual Anne: he absolutely adored her ability to companion his mind and soul as well as his body. But, once they MARRIED she was his WIFE and QUEEN.

This was a relatively impersonal role to play. Anne herself was not bred to be a royal wife, and she failed to adapt from high hearted mistress, to dignified queen.

It is worth noting that Anne and Henry are by no means unusual. Through the ages men with a bit going for them have yearned after the independent woman. But once won, the story shifts abruptly especially if she submits to marriage. Suddenly she is a WIFE, and she is judged very differently. What is MINE should be reassuring, supportive, not unsettling and challenging.

Many an independent couple has fallen foul of this stereotype I think.

But more than any other reason, more than making an enmity of Cromwell, more than opening up a precedent for other ambitious women (or their families) was Anne's maternity. She did not bear a living son, any more than Katherine had before her. Both women were rejected for this, although both had been greatly loved and honoured for a time.

I believe that if Anne had borne a son she could pretty easily have seen Cromwell off and other aspirant women too. Henry would have adored her not anly as his fiery companion of heart and soul and mind, but as his Madonna, Mother of the Royal Prince. This was the crux of her power, her magic, more than any other source.

Anne DID conceive a son. By birthing Elizabeth she disappointed Henry but he rallied and "forgave" her. He still came to her bed and she conceived again, this time a son. Of course they did not know that for certain, but she would have strongly assured the King of it.

What went wrong was one of those strange, almost eerie turning points of history. Henry was a strong virile man of 44. On 24 January 1536 he had a fall during a joust. He was unconscious and carried into the palace. Seeing him as if dead, and told he would die, Anne reacted with deep shock. She miscarried their boy child.

Had Henry not fallen as he did, Anne was likely to have had a healthy boy, for she had borne a healthy child before.

The tragic incident also changed Henry forever. From being active and manly he was forced to live as a semi-invalid for the rest of his life. Any active older man finds this tough, but this was a man used to getting his own way, a powerful King. His body was broken, a failure – and so was hers.

He became increasingly tyrannical, partly to demonstrate his power still, but quite possibly because he had suffered a brain injury in the fall.

This was no longer the tender lover, the jovial friend, Anne and others had known. Henry became spiteful, a petty bully, and unlovable. A proud woman such as Anne would have found him hard to bear in his unpredictable rages and self pity.

Whether or not his brain was damaged, and this does seem likely, we do know that Henry lived with a wound in his leg that would not heal, and caused him frequent pain. A persistent hurt that will not improve drains energy and optimism; and this pampered prince had little experience of coping with lengthy or permanent physical limitation.

Anne had loss to bear, but a miscarriage for her was not the end of the world - for her on her own. She could look to try again. But the king was older, and he had gone through all this before with Catherine, dead baby after dead baby after dead baby over two decades.

For Henry his tragedy in 1536 was immense. He had lost his manhood in two huge ways.

His baby son gone, the hope of England reduced to a bloody flux. We know he was a tender father to all his children, so this was not only his fear and loss as a sovereign. No doubt he felt the death of the little boy too. But more than anything he had failed his dynasty, failed his colossal father, the shrewd conqueror Henry VII.

It was still part of being a sacred king that he should be "fit", whole, healthy and fertile. Henry was none of that now. In ancient times he would have been sacrificed, or forced into exile for a king must be a perfect specimen.

Possibly Henry was always at heart insecure. Brought up as the younger indulged brother to Arthur the serious Prince groomed to rule, Henry had not expected, nor been expected, to become a King. His childhood was to be treated as less important, a playboy.

Brother Arthur’s death as a young man thrust Henry unprepared into the direct royal lineage. Significantly he was the one who insisted on being Your Majesty, to reinforce on his grandeur. His great father had never needed that. But now His Majesty was failing – yet again – at this most sensitive and intimate task: to provide a son for his realm. What the meanest peasant or potboy could do, he could not. (He had had illegitimate sons, but that meant little.)

Secondly his own personal strength had gone too. His world had closed down, shrunk to an indoor, limited, observer life, seeing other men hunting and jousting and dancing - the things he had so loved and so excelled. To sit about, to hobble with a stick, when once he leaped ran and rode - this was bitterly cruel. He did not help himself by overeating for comfort, becoming bulky, putting yet more strain on his leg. Henry did not face old age gracefully.

His double loss, with the horror and frustration of long years behind him with Catherine's many dead babies, the prospect of yet more of the same misery with Anne, plus the agony of his unhealed leg wound, pain in his head, and raging emotions out of control; Henry was in a bad way. Certainly he was in no state to rise up smiling, comfort his Lady Anne, bounce into bed and try again. Her comparative youth and health would also be hard to bear as a contrast to his weakness.

In the grip of great loss, depression and fear, many people even today consider whether they are “cursed”, jinxed, dogged with “bad luck.” It is so much easier to think that some outside target for our pain and anger is to blame, instead of a huge daunting complex of events we cannot control.

If we are cursed then we can get the curse lifted, and regain control. But to solve a complex situation of misfortune requires long gruelling effort and courage to work through. Even then there is no guarantee of success.

No wonder the market for protection magic, removing curses, is as brisk as it ever was. Henry did not live in an age of science with technology all about him as its result. That age was just beginning, still on a shaky basis. He was surrounded by priests, prayers – and he lived with suppressed fear that his great rebellion against the Pope had set off divine retribution. The God of the Bible had after all always targeted sons: Abraham's Isaac, the Egyptians' first born, and his own Jesus. Henry had good reason to fear the hand of God.

But in his extremity there was a way out. The priesthood was clear that the cause of sin was always female. Had he not been tempted just as Adam had been tempted? By a beautiful women who had spoken to him of freedom, and offered it to him with her body?

Hurt, grieving, afraid, desperate for escape, the King had a sweet young girl placed upon his knee. Quiet Jane, who did not argue, who was so young, so gently healthy, so suited to motherhood.

Once a lover turns against his love, his hatred can be as intense, as deep as his love once was. It can be aggravated by the haunting of former times. Henry knew he was still vulnerable to Anne so he refused to see her, in case she reached his heart again. She had to die to cleanse him of his curse.

If Henry had not fallen, if Anne had borne her boy and he lived, there would have been no Bloody Mary, and no Elizabeth. There would have been a glorious Edwardian Age perhaps, and a very different history with no Stuart kings, no German Georges.
Perhaps there would have been no witch craze for one thing. The fear of a powerful woman might not have been invoked by a king's pained nightmare about Anne, his determined Queen and Great Whore. Nor would her mighty daughter have killed Mary Stuart, and left her son the Stuart king motherless, in terror of strong women. A world without the Malleus Maleficarum would nave been better off.

Saturday, 15 August 2009

Trading eggs

From the Daily Mail today:
Egg donation can mean "ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome as a result. She is now in early menopause and infertile herself. Not only that, she is unable to walk and in a wheelchair."

Since the medical risks to the donor are so high, she should be compensated for taking the risk.
£10 - £12,000 sounds quite low to me.

Perhaps the prejudice here is that women are buying and selling motherhood, that great sacred cow. Don't get me wrong, I venerate mothering too! But our strong feelings block us thinking sensibly about it.

Also there is a cruelly sentimental idea that WOMEN should do helpful things for nothing, or offer their bodies for nothing.

Unless we abolish the rich and the poor, then richer people will buy physical services from poorer people. That can be cooking, cleaning, massage, prostitution, wet-nursing, organ donation and egg donation.
[Ignore Read more link - this is the full post.]

Wednesday, 12 August 2009

Welfare scroungers

The indignation of those who want welfare mothers' money cut off, or their unnecessary children aborted, are understandable. They are also deeply ignorant of what social welfare is for. I say that without disrespect: few do know this.

Welfare is certainly in part idealistic, to ensure people and particularly children, do not starve, and do not die for lack of warmth and shelter. That is what would happen to these children if we did not pay welfare for them. It's not the feckless mother who matters, but the innocent child.

That's the idealistic part. The cold hard cash part, the much stronger reason for welfare is to consider what happens without it? Crime and riots.
You think crime is bad now? Look at history where no one could walk anywhere alone.
The middle and upper classes carried swordsticks as a matter of course; the lower clawss carried knives.
Trees had to be cut back 10ft from a road by law so robbers could not hide in them. Think of that when you pop over to visit the parents on Sundays. Travellers always went in groups for safety.
Dead bodies had to be removed daily from the gutters which had frozen to death in the night, or starved. Death by starvation is long drawn out and painful by the way.
To survive such harsh conditions the poor put their children to work at 5 or 7 years. Little kids doing dangerous dirty work. One big option was prostitution naturally.

But a lot of that didn't matter because the rich, the bankers of those days, still made their money. What really annoyed them was the damage to property if the poor rioted. Unfortunately that could mean warehouses, offices, even wealthy homes being burned down.

Another thing that made welfare attractive ws that dirty starving people get diseased, and many infectious diseases are stupidly unaware of clss differences. The beggar on the street could infect the respectable who came near them. Oh dear.

So welfare was developed to keep the poorest in moderate comfort so they wouldn't in desperation riot, burn, and otherwise damage the all important property. That welfare gradually led to a reduction in violent crime was also a positive as knifing did affect the middles and uppers, sadly. But it did work because ordinary people were able to stop carrying weapons everywhere.
If the recipients of welfare lie about stoned or drunk, so much the better. Addled heads don't organise riots and are ineffective at serious crime. There's burglary and mugging yes bit that really only affects the less well off who can't afford gated estates, chauffeurs and bodyguards. Poor things life is tough.

Given this kind of rational agenda, kieeping the very poor in a state of uneducated stupidity, drunk, drugged, messy, incapable, is all much better than having them out and about, starving and desperate causing trouble for their betters.

Baby P still might have survived this benevolent welfare state. Only the Social Workers were too busy tapping keyboards updating their reports for ContactPoint. This is a project which is now admitted to be a colossal failure. 80% of Social Workers' time was spent on feeding its machines. Not much time for looking after little boys.

Of course Social Workers are a dim lot, the dregs of the professions. Anyone who can get a real professional job wouldn't apply. But for badly educated products of state schools with few qualifications it's a well paid niche.

Once it was a not bad profession but it has gone down so badly the good older staff left years ago leaving young inexperienced (mostly) women who haven't had children and have no idea what good parenting is.

But oh how exciting to be able to bustle into people's lives, ask them lots of personal questions and write grown up reports about it! That this is done on the idea of "helping" is positively orgasmic though there is little understanding that helping = interference.

Most genuine families in need would benefit from a sensible home help to do some housework, get shopping, and teach how to do these things together with basic child discipline. Clipboards, meetings and reports are not what is required. But rolled up sleeves and washing up is a bit, well, shabby compared to toting a briefcase to meetings.

ContactPoint which drained what little intelligence and energy Social Workers had, was established following the Laming Report (after Victoria Climbie died of hunger and abuse in the bath). It's now being discontinued I believe hacving cost us billions of public money.
The word was at the time that Victoria really died because the SWs didn't want to visit her as her auhnt was scary and aggressive. So much nicer to visit nice families, who were cowed and polite, for a nice cup of tea. While Victoria died.
No doubt something similar happened to Peter, SWs eagerly investigating nice pleasant healthy families wrecking their lives with the spectre of the child stealers. While Peter died.

All right, if you still want to stop the Underclass from breeding because welfare is admittedly getting a bit expensive - about the same as spend on the military both are to protect us from violence. So let's look at how to stop ladies like Peter's mother from breeding.

Some suggest cutting benefits on the 3rd child. But that would still create a brood of 3 useless mouths and a useless mother.
So why not stop benefits after the first child?
That would cut the numbers of the Underclass in half in a generation. Neat.
All right what do we do when she has the 2nd child? Let her manage on the same money? Of course the children (both) would suffer but then they do anyway fed on junk food, TV and violence.
So perhaps we take away the second child so a deserving family can adopt it. Pretty soon we'd have shortage of adopting parents.
Never mind, China shows the way. Pregnant women are not difficult to control and can be easily taken to hospital and aborted. A little upsetting yes but so much better for everyone. Might as sterilise at the same time, so much more efficient.

Of course there will be quite a few cases of error where mothers making serious attempts to work are aborted and sterilised forcibly. But sacrifices have to be made for a sane society to exist.

After a while it becomes much tidier to collect up such mothers/ families, and put them in big compounds. Give them labout to keep them out of mischief. Dormitory accommodation is a LOT cheaper than flats and houses and catering on a mass basis much cheaper too.
In fact they don't really need money, and clothes can be issued in a plain type. As they will begin to look quite grey and different to ordinary people their guards will be rather prone to bullying them but that'll act as a deterrent for others to stay out of the Underclass.

It's a problem that their cheap labour, and their older children doing "work experience" undercuts other slightly less poor people trying to earn a living. More people end up faqlling in to the compound way of life but hey they'll be in out of the way places where WE don't have to think about them.

As for their disabled children probably best to painlessly end their sad little lives. Why prolong their useless existences? Tidy them up for heravens sake.

Now the rest of us can get on with our respectable tidy lives. We'd earn quite low wages with free State labour being used alongside us.
We'd live in terror of losing that badly paid work because that would mean ending up in the Compounds, or as some call them, camps. With forced labour, disabled kids killed off neatly, our other children candidates for adoption by the rich. Some of the camp children could be sent to war which would mop up some of their numbers.

But hey sacrifices have to be made. It would at least be a sane, rational society. The banks would make their huge profits. MPs and company directors would make their money too.

Wonderful. Hitler would be delighted.

Sunday, 9 August 2009

Canu Gwyl Lleuad / Lughnasa singing

Went to the woods and sat by the big pools brushing out my long hair and making many triple plaitings.

Water was brown like darkened bronze, smooth silky reflecting birch, ash trees with golden highlights where afternoon sun sprinkled the trunks of the trees sinking deep down to Annwvn under the waters.
So deep so clearly mirrored the underworld under but around, through, in.
A woodpigeon spoke of Goddess peace.

Walked through the lush green choked woods along by the stream up past the Two Trees who rest my back gently moving yet stillness as I lean back eyes flying up into spattered leaves against deep sky blue like a picturebook.
The waterfall is dark but busy in the shadows, voices of falling water busy busy, rushing over the knotty roots.
The Oak in the Water stands quiet over her pool as the waters slush the overflow at her feet.
Up the bridleway a soft mulch of mud lies sculpted across the gate stroking the side of my feet with cool.

In the top meadow many perfumes of flowers fighting for attention are almost dizzying but a sharp note beneath the sweetness saves the atmosphere from overkill.
Small wasps work the white valerian clusters peaceably beside me; there is cool shadowed grass around my bare feet while fuzzy warm sun lies on my neck.

Sitting on my mighty log throne with soft skirts spread I was surrounded by soaring trees flinging a mass of dense green multicoloured green pride of green in millions of tiny pieces of green way up high in an amphitheatre of green.
The Ash singing delicate so I sang her too.
Horse Chestnut insisting on his say even outspeaking the Oaks today.
Above and around the brilliant blue of halcyon summer sky reaching limitless where was this moment who was I so very me.
I sang them all and they gifted me with sweet voice but also answered by cynical crows lest I become proud and forget the dark beneath the golden day.
Alone without humans yet so embraced I was, sitting in the high meadow beside the sloping hill above the waterdeeps.

Returning, things happened normally hard to do but they were nothing to me today.

Thursday, 6 August 2009

Destroyed masculinity?

A new book claims that women are destroying men's masculinity which is why so many men have sunk into passivity and failure. Groan!

I love it when my husband cooks, it’s very sexy. Why on earth should I be irritated when he fusses in the kitchen? as the book suggests I should! Providing food is very masculine.
Nor do either of us find it unattractive for me to fill up the car – what am I supposed to do when out driving for heaven’s sake? Run it dry?
I’m certainly grateful that he and my son heave the heavy bins out as I CAN do it but it’s so much easier for them.
The examples given are limited and odd.

But there certainly is a problem. The “lazy teenager” husband in the article I read definitely rings a bell.

My own analysis after 20 years of marriage is that men are not programmed for equality much and we don't train boys to handle it where it counts. They are creatures of extremes: either dominance or passivity with nothing in between.
If men feel they are in charge, the boss, they will often do well – though not always as no one is perfect.
But if someone else is in charge, they don’t cope well at all. They become sulky teenagers complete with passive resistance, sabotage, irrational tempers and rages, refusal to get help or advice, parasitism about money etc.
I try to deal with it by making sure my husband has certain things like the car that are “his.” That works OK but the trouble is you can’t split everything up like that.

So in areas that must be shared it simply comes down to who handles it best. If he does, fine. No problem.

But if not, inevitably, yes there has to be some of that feminine stuff because men are just not equipped to handle inferiority. Which really comes down to lies.

Pretending he did his part better than he did. Repairing what he messes up, but doing it discreetly so it doesn’t notice. Letting others think he does more than he does, and does it better. Feminine wiles like this are filth, but men aren’t ready to cope without them.

Doing this feminine filth is damaging to both. It infantilises the man that he does actually need it, and it damages the woman who must provide it to ensure the family works out.
It is most bitter to provide most of the money for a family, make sure bills are paid, things get fixed, events organised etc – and elaborately pretend you’re not doing it.
If anyone does realise what is going on a female provider is not seen as heroic, admirable, worthy of help and support, as a man would be. She is instead either a ballbreaker or a stupid exploited victim letting a man live off her.

Try not doing it though, give him “time” or “space” to do one of those things, and watch the mess appear if this isn't one of his skill areas.

With children at stake you can’t let that happen. Certain things just must get done right. Nor do I really see why my security financially, or my basic comforts at home, should be put at the mercy of someone who won't look after them properly all to save him a bit of accurate self assessment.
On some things there isn't much room for a man to mess up. Those things have to get done by the best person for the job and the other must either defer, or try to learn better skills.

Women are simply much better at recognising they aren't good at something and either supporting the person who is, or learning to do better, or both. It comes out very early on in children learning things which is why girls get ahead if they are not artificially held back. Boys give up and flop into failure if they don't zoom to the top straight away, where girls cry, then try again.

There is no good answer right now. Somehow though we HAVE to find a way for men to learn how to handle not being dominant, and not collapsing into useless lumps as a result.
It would help if there wasn’t this constant emphasis on masculinity meaning being in charge, being dominant, being deferred to. Masculinity is gorgeous in its distinctively male bodies, its capacity to father a child, its strength to carry heavy stuff, an ability to stay detached and nurturing when we women occasionally need to collapse.
It would so help if men could be shown what we really appreciate, instead of being fed a pretence. Every time a man carries something heavy I am delighted in his masculinity. To him it's a shrug, minor, just as many of my female sensitivities he finds so useful are nothing to me.
That kind of mutual respect is REAL.

Stop implying men should be exaggeratedly strong and dominant and they could have breathing space to get used to not being exaggeratedly strong and dominant. Stupid articles telling women to apply more feminine lies do NOT help.

Wednesday, 5 August 2009

Wildlife disturbed by human sex!

"A wildlife trust has ordered bird-watchers to stop having sex in bird hides."
Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust refers to "... certain things going on at nature reserves that shouldn’t. ... certain noises coming from the bird hides ... could possibly disturb or cause harm to the animals that live there."

Er, does Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust realise that animals and birds actually have sex?

Animals and birds are not fluffy toys you know. They'll know exactly what "certain noises" mean and will know that the humans occupied with "certain things going on" won't be any threat to them at all.

Said humans will be rather taken up with what they're doing!

Quoted from Daily Mail report. Ignore 'read more' this is the full post.

Sunday, 2 August 2009

Should a man pay out for almost 20 years after a quick fling?

A young woman is chasing a wealthy male star to try and make him pay for her choice to mother, because they had a quick fling.
I find this both demeaning to women's independence and dignity, and seriously unfair on men.

There is absolutely no reason why a man should be expected to "be a gentleman" after a quick fling. Why on earth should he pay out substantial money over almost two decades because of a quickie?

Women who enter into quick sex for fun should take responsibility for their own biology. We are not the same as men, so sex can have far greater consequences.
The female choice is either to refuse fast sex, and insist on commitment in order to cover the possibility of a child; or use birth control efficiently and accept the small risk of getting caught out after a fling.
If you do get caught, that comes out of your choice. No one forces you into having a fling so grow up and deal with how your body is made.

The old Celtic laws by the way covered different types of marriage, seven in fact. These ranged from the life commitment we supposedly honour today, to the serial commitments we actually have; to short term contracts either publicly known or private.

It would be far better for us to stop this quasi Christian pretence that there is only one kind of marriage. The Celts worked out a good syste. Read Hywel Dda or the Brehon Laws. All very sensible.

Sadly the forces of so-called 'family values' are fanatic about going the other way: back to bonded women, patriarchy, the sexual double standard etc.

Tuesday, 21 July 2009


Thank heavens for a voice of reason. Perhaps the breast bullies can now be made to SHUT UP.

"Michael Kramer, a professor of paediatrics who has advised the World Health Organisation and Unicef, said that much of the evidence used to persuade new mothers to breastfeed was either wrong or out-of-date. (Article)

NO solution suits everyone. Which means the grossly simple statement "Breast is Best" - is a lie.

It's NOT best for those whose babies are allergic to their milk.
It's NOT best for those with greatly weakened systems - which is common after a hard birth.
It's NOT best if the mother's milk is scanty.
It's NOT best if the struggle to do it is exhausting, painful, and a barrier between mother and baby. Yes effort and good support can overcome problems - but some would rather just be happy with their happy baby.
It's NOT best for ensuring the greatest involvement by a devoted father.
It's NOT best if pushed at mothers as a guilt trip.

For many it might be best.
For others it just isn't.
Live with it. We're different.

Saturday, 18 July 2009

The Genesis Enigma

A new book claims it is astounding that biblical Genesis describes the stages of "creation" in the right order, matching the theories by modern scientists.

This isn't so surprising as it appears. It only looks it if we assume Genesis was authored by the primitive early Israelites. Those tribal brigands who invaded and massacred peaceful Canaan were indeed not great thinkers.

However many Israelites were later taken into slavery to Babylon which DID have highly sophisticated scholars, where Israelites learned some knowledge. Many of these better educated Israelites then returned to Israel under Cyrus.

The Magi and other scholars of Babylon invented geometry we still use today - 60 seconds/ minutes, angles etc. They gave us our first recorded literature as well via their own ancestral culture, the Sumerians. In fact one of those books, by Enheduanna, told of a messiah who descended to hell for 3 days to hang dead on a tree - only that messiah was female.

Much of the early books of the Israelite Bible are based on Babylonian myths - Eden, Noah, Babel. Like the Greek philosophers we know better, the Magi well knew analytic logic so the order of the origin of the universe could have been worked out.
Impressive? yes. Mystery? no.

This new book also quite clearly distorts in order to fit facts to its argument. Day 4 for example has God creating the stars and the sun and the moon. As the author admits this is a facer as Light, day and night, already exist from Day 1.
An ingenious but unlikely theory is put forward that at this point evolution developed sight - so beings could SEE the sun and moon. Apparently this sequence does fit.
But I doubt if early science (deductive logic) could go that far and the argument here sounds artificially distorted. It's arguing back from what we know now - or rather what we theorise now.
We should not forget that evolution is only a theory, not a fact. A good theory, but just a theory. It doesn't fit all the facts. It just fits a lot more than other theories do.

Thursday, 2 July 2009

"Public Enemies" - John Dillinger

‘Public Enemies’ is such an outstandingly bad film it almost becomes interesting just because of that.
Depp is the only good thing in it, but he’s crippled by an overload of bad cimema.

As a film, "Public Enemies" needs a public health warning against boredom.

There’s a mass of gunfire, pitched much louder than usual to the point of real discomfort. Action fans might like it, but the camera work is so muddled it’s hard to make out who on earth is shooting who. I guess if all you want is bangs that's all right.
That muddle might be realism, as shootouts are like that, but good cinema it isn’t. A few shots of muddled shooting would give us realism: a constant flow of muddle becomes simply boring.

Action movies are often accused of cardboard characters. In this film we don’t even have paper ones.
Who was Dillinger? how did he become “John Dillinger”? We don’t know.
Yet we do, and his story is fascinating. Why was it all left out of the film? Why did we not see a glimpse of him looking after ‘his people’? for example. Nothing of the human person can be seen behind the guns except Depp’s skilled facial expressions.

Perhaps the greatest flaw is lack of identification. Even action films can grip us tight to the hero/ine. With Depp up there it’s a real tribute to the director Mann's failure that he leaves us outside gawping at muddle and mistakes. His hero is just a standard Hollywood cliché.
As for Dillingedr's gang and opponents, there are so many men in suits looking intense it’s hard to know who’s a cop and who’s a gangster. Constant close-up, in your face filmwork, doesn’t help recognition. Parts of faces, the back of someone's shoulder, don't tell us much about who's doing what to who.

Dillinger’s amazing capers simply aren't there. Not just a gunslinger but a mastermind so why not let us see what fun he was? Checking out banks by posing as a sales rep selling security systems – not shown. Setting up a job as a film company doing a bank robbbery, so people smiled as the real robbery took place – not shown. His trademark two shots at the ceiling, then “Everybody get down and stay calm!” – not shown. Instead lots of those muddled gunshots.

The regional American accents are so thick that a third of the dialogue or more is completely lost unless that's your hometown. Oh and who was the guy in the blue suit who got shot at the start? Never did find out. Nameless guy shoots nameless guy, shooter looks a bit uncomfortable, now that's real exciting cinema.

Most of the actors’ make up was smeared on like amateur stage make up. Men especially look peculiar in obvious heavy make up and tough guy heroes and villains hardly benefit from caked mascara, and lipstick.

There’s only one significant female role and she’s a scrawny, ugly little thing with no magnetism or appeal. Her photo in Dillinger’s fob watch, seen several times, shows up how hollow and skeletal she is.

Period detail is poor. Steam trains meant stations were filthy: this one was bright and clean – with white tilework. Everything else is lovely and clean too, such as streets and buildings. In a Depression era when everywhere except a few rich highspots was shabby and broken down.

The origin of the FBI was an interesting subplot, but like so much else, got lost in clever clever camera work, and muddle. The new type of gangster, another subplot, was another casualty to opaque accents, too-fast talk. That could have been genuinely interesting. Pity.

Was it too controversial to show just why Dillinger was so adored? Banks were hated then even more than now, with repossessions and unemployment as a ruthless backdrop for their greed. Dillinger challenged them by robbing them, so he was loved by the people so greatly they helped and sheltered him. They say his blood on the pavement was sacred, and hankies dipped in it when the body had been removed.

His death chapter is cheesy, predictable even if you don’t know the story. Why was the prostitute not wearing the red dress she actually wore? After such a boring film it was hard to feel regret when he died though the close up of blood pouring out of his face was a really nice touch (not).

Looking up Dillinger when I got home I was entranced by his real story. I think that was the one thing I can thank the film for. It made Dillinger so boring I wanted to know why he's a legend, so I looked him up. Not a great achievement for a film.

Wednesday, 1 July 2009

Shaven Slavery

A school wants to force a boy to shave because "his moustache is not part of school uniform."
Face shaving originally started among homosexual men to try to look boyish.

Shaving has also been widely used to control hygiene in prisons, armies and navies. Keeping crowds of males clean in grubby or dirty conditions, to avoid epidemics, is a lot easier if they are forced to shave and crop their hair.

With a few exceptions, more hair is therefore universally the sign of a free man.

In modern Western societies shaving is required of the mass of bonded servants who service companies, councils and corporations. Cropped hair also depersonalises men, making them look remarkably similar. Suits complete the clone robot appearance to a frightening degree.

Shaving demonstrates that the man is a subordinate male, a lesser person who must obey the boss even in very personal matters like this.
Noticeably when men have more independence they tend to grow more hair.

To force a child to shave means forcing them into servant status. This is especially damaging as once started shaving distorts facial hair into stubble, an unnatural condition which can be uncomfortable, and can cause medical problems (ingrown hair).

British law requires education not to close off a child's options to decide their adult lifestyle.
The child should be able to wait till he gets a job or starts a business, to choose his way in life. Education is not mere obedience.

Oh but of course it is. That is the main thing schools are about.

Sunday, 21 June 2009

Women Elders, fear and prejudice

Re the African persecutions of Witches, often young children, they are ghastly. (response to someone else)
Another particularly badly treated group are older women. They are beaten up and tortured, cast out of their communities and left to starve.

In societies dominated by men women are seen as dangerous which equals: likely to disobey their masters. They are tolerated only if they can provide sex, plus children who can add to a man's pride, and to his wealth by their child work. Children are not just sold because of dire poverty, they are sold because they are possessions, as women are.

In a society with greater wisdom in my opinion older women are valued as child carers, healers, repositories of long experience. Rejecting the knowledge that comes with experience means you have to work everything out over and over, making the same mistakes over and over.

Read on for analysis applied to the (Western) Pagan community.

There is a problem with this hatred of elder women in our own community. I and other older people, especially women, are often snubbed when we give advice from our experience. I have more than once had frantically hostile reactions when I refer to myself as an elder! It is SO taboo to mention being older.

In modern Paganism I can see three roots for this anti-elder women stuff.

This is a community that values innovation, and fierce independence. That makes it difficult to value elders. The two ideas are extremely contradictory.
While I too value innovation and independence, I would like to see a bit more ability to actually look at what elders say rather than dismissing it almost automatically because it comes from older people who are seen as past it. Difficult I know to balance these two points of view, probably impossible to get it right!

This area applies to both elder women and men. But other issues make it stronger around women.

2. MALE DOMINANT SOCIETY OUTSIDE We are not free of the male dominant modes still so prevalent everywhere.
Before anyone jumps in with outrage about how dominant women are a quick reminder on the rape epidemic going almost totally unstopped by any legal or other restraint/ 80% of domestic violence is against women, who die every week from it/ the poorest people are still women, struggling to look after kids etc etc Things have changed for better off women in terms of money, property, and for some, sex; not much else.

So the male dominant deep psychology still affects us, and older women are the least valued people among male dominant groups. Nor is this a simple case of women vs. men. It's just as often other women who are scared of getting - or being - old, and fear elder women so show them contempt in minor and major ways. Surrounded by media saturating us with the value of young bodies this is not surprising.

This is a powerful potential work area for Goddess magic. Hmm might do a workshop on it at House Morgain!

3. GODDESS/ PRIESTESS AUTHORITY The Pagan community and the overlapping but not identical Goddess community, has had huge effects in reclaiming the authority of the priestess.
This is not the same thing as "women priests" who merely occupy the masculine defined job of priest. They may soften it or change it a little, but they don't hold that place BECAUSE they are women, but in spite of it.

It may seem odd to put this here as a problem for older women, but it is. As noted we are all socially conditioned by anti-women ideas from the wider society. So Goddess and priestess do not sit in our heads without tension. We kind of pretend they do I think.
But the tension comes out in endless bimbo Goddesses or priestesses like Barbie images. Nothing wrong with them as an option, but their overwhelming majority shows that the propaganda from everywhere is right there in our heads.
There are plenty of other situations that show that our respect for Goddess/ priestess though much more than skin deep, doesn't go very deep. For example I frequently find Pagans who can't hear and consider what I say but can hear exactly the same thing perfectly OK if John says it in his male voice! Another example is how as soon as I speak of women/ men the assumptions of manhating leap up excitedly without looking at what I really say.

That's just good old sexism at work. In some ways being older is MUCH better. I don't have what I say or do ignored, discounted because my tits are the main interest any more! Which is wonderful.
Yet I can also feel how what I do/ say sparks much stronger hostile reactions now I'm older. The other side of the coin maybe? - without perky tits to distract any more I'm taken seriously - hence hostility! Perhaps I should not complain since this is what I want.

But there is an intensity to the hostility I encounter that intuitively flashes MOTHER at me. (I freely admit that here I'm talking my feelings, not evidence.) It links to some great research years ago (Chodorow I think) that pointed out that we're all with few exceptions, brought up in very early years by Mothers.
Those very early years form us like no others. So we all experience female domination when we're doing our core growing. Few later experience outside the gulags and horror camps, have such dominated experience as nappy changing, passive feeding etc So ANY female authority is underlaid by this deep layer of buried memory of almost total domination. No wonder we fear female authority!
Is this perhaps why "power women" are expected to be rake thin? as unlike Mother as possible? I wonder. In a period of transition where women are taking so much more power in commerce, law, the academy, and a bit, in government - perhaps they have to drastically amputate themselves as mothers to be permitted to do it.

Anyway my point here is that while Pagans are strong, independent people, we are by no means free of deep psychology. That deep laid Mother domination is still there, and elder women remind us of it: they are the generation that changed a lot of nappies, up ending the younger ones to do it.

Innocence, guilt, democracy, Child Protection

"To be judged on evidence by a jury of our peers goes to the heart of a democratic society."
(Leading article 'Independent' Sunday, 21 June 2009)

Yes. Absolutely.
But there's precious little of that stuff around Child Protection.

It'd be a start if Child Protection operated on evidence rather than the personal opinion of one person. That person may be exhausted, overworked, not well trained, and as subject to the prejudices and jealousies of humanity as anyone else.

In Child Protection there is NO "innocent unless proven guilty."

There's just guilty until proved innocent, with the whole system against you.

Even then, if a family pushes allegations into court and gets an innocent verdict against all the odds, it's often too late. The child was adopted long ago, midway through the case. Then as Social Workers say with a triumphant smirk, the child is "settled" and cannot be moved.

In years to come we are going to hear from these children. Often they are lied to and told their parents didn't want them, or committed offences against them.

Like the lost children of 60s single mothers, adopted and not told till they were adult their true parentage, these children now being torn out of innocent healthy families, will rise up in accusation, grief, and rage, against those who are being paid to wreck their lives.

Child Protection is a rule of terror gone way out of control. even a small brush with them ruins families for years. No one is safe unless wealthy and well connected. That is something these people do understand. But innocence, and healthy families - and EVIDENCE - no.

Thursday, 18 June 2009


Justice Coleridge may have 'carefully' added bits and pieces to soften what he said. He still insulted committed parents by babbling about 'marriage' being best (oh how I detest breast is best, marriage is best etc)

The public trend is clear: marriage is on the way out. Less than half of all couples go for it.

We therefore need to look at how to build in procedures and customs that will strengthen everyday partnerships. Flogging a dying horse on an outdated system just won't work. People have been ignoring these attempts to foist marriage on them for some time.

I agree with Deborah Orr that the practical and traditional stages of celibacy, courtship, contract, are desirable. I'd further divide the Contract stage into an Early Contract (1 -7 years) Longterm Contract (7- 20yrs) and Life Contract (Over 21yrs) because these stages have different needs and different outcomes. A partnership just can't be assessed, or supported in the same way without looking at its stage.

If we got away from the ridiculous Christian custom of making "eternal vows" for a whole life, often when very young, it would help. The old Celtic laws (Hywel Dda, Brehon system) of different kinds of marriage, some resident, visiting, short term, long term etc was much more realistic. The Celts incidentally had women's property rights and divorce.

Deborah's analysis is good, but overlooked that the traditional model included close family supervision of the stages of a partnership. Arranged marriages have a bad name but in reality, as long as the principals are fully involved, they help a lot. If the family investigates a possible partner they can dig up the dirt and save much pain. Older people can often see a chancer and give warning.
An involved family will also contribute more, not just a wasteful splashy wedding, but real financial help for bills and babies over the years, where a family shut out is less likely to. The biorth family can also champion a partner getting abused.

But most of all I found this article lacking in its economics. The Judge is not living in the real world - presumably cushioned by high pay, gated living and a solid pension.
Real people are struggling to survive among debts, repossession, unemployment - if not actual, threatened. Then there's an ugly culture driven by the greedy wealthy barons where alcohol is sold with weak controls fuelling violence; drugs are linked to crime, more violence; both parents MUST work to pay ruthless property prices.
More than anything this last item, forced double employment for parents, is destructive. It means partners have little time to BE partners, to simply be with each other at home. When they are, they are exhausted and exhaustion breeds aggression and shuts down sex.
Additionally children are necessarily neglected, left to makeshift arrangements or institutionalised. That means their social abilities are very poor and they cause endless crises and stress.

Meanwhile a proft driven sleaze media recommends sex sex sex, affairs and orgasms as the golden remedies. Naked bodies are displayed everywhere to urge people to do it dot it, it'rs your right. Exhausted, frightened, lost, people unsurprisingly either shut down and give up, or reach for forbidden fruit.

All this goes back to the early 80s and the deregulation of the economy. As the biggest result the economy has just collapsed. It will happen again if banks are not regulated.
But that's the big level/. On the everyday level all kinds of misery is hitting people, and has been for 30 years. We cannot run a society on greed and ruthlessness with out families being damaged.

Actually I think it's a tribute to families and their brave, diogged, determined members, that the damage is not far worse than it is. It's time that our authority figures started PRAISING the families that work, and looking at how they do it. Rather than generate more despair by hammering people with disapproval, be practical, look at what works, and rty to spread it around.

I think any such study would find that 'marriage' - big weddings, flash sounding vows, certificates, have little to do with it. Nor do huge long contracts as very few people can achieve them - a life contract was historically around 15 years maximum, often no more than 3 - 7 years with deaths in childbirth, war, epidemic etc.

Let's start being realistic, instead of pompous and disapproving.
Again, I'd recommend a look at the Celtic laws. Short and longer contracts both, building long ones from short ones. Residential and visiting contracts. Cut the fuss at the start: get a celebration custom going when there's something to celebrate at 3 years 7 years 10, 21 and so on.

The Cowboy Age

Another excellent analysis of the economic crisis by Vince Cable today. Vince thank you for yet another calm, accurate analysis.

As Vince keeps warning, the Crash is far from over. A bit of bright gameplaying among the financiers staving off the very worst collapses is only a step away from disaster. We still have unemployment rocketing, repossessions and debts sky high, public services about to be cut back to a dangerous degree, crime, alcohol, drugs, violence and hopelessness blighting our society as never before in living memory.

The crucial key is banks regulation yetjavascript:void(0) Darling (currently Chancellor) says this is not going to be done. GRRRRRR. We are staring another BIGGER crash in the face.

The most important issues facing us today in Britain are -

1) the regulation of the banks, splitting them into two sectors - utility banking and international risk investment (Vince Cable's agenda).
If banks are not regulated we will have another crash that will make this one look tiny, because it'll crash on top of an already weakened base. There will also be very little or no Government capacity to borrow in order to do another bail out.

Since Darling is currently fudging bank regulastion the prospects are dire.

2) The second major issue facing us is the database state - this is not unconnected.
There is nothing clearly stated in the current central database proposals to protect us from having our detailed and centralised personal records sold to commercial interests.
Given the record of banks and commercial companies on how they deal with ordinary people's vulnerabilities again the prospect is dire.

We have increasingly become trained to be cows, financial cows, herded and milked by powerful cowboys. This is the new age, not the industrial age, not the information age, but the Cowboy Age.


I don't know what Vince's strategy is around the election. I hope it's to negotiate a Coalition Government so he can be Chancellor.
In which case DO NOT vote Tory. Labour will get few votes so all we need do is avoid a Tory triumph and the LibDems will be able to strike a deal with one or the other main party.

Wednesday, 17 June 2009

Mother, Child dead due to "Christian" faith

A 30 year old woman killed her baby then died of blood loss in a toilet.

I am horrified that the revolting beliefs of these parents terrorised their daughter to the point that she suppressed awareness of her pregnancy, then panicked, committed deliberate murder, and died herself in a ghastly way.
What a poor crazy woman, with her mind twisted by these foul ideas of sex guilt and shame.
In a healthy family she would have been TOLD about sex - her mother admits they never spoke of it so she never checked her daughter was knowledgeable and competent to be an adult woman.
In a healthy family she could have told her parents and they could all have enjoyed an addition to the family. Instead of THIS.

Do not PLEASE blame this on "religion." This isn't religion. It's a particular part of one religion, Christianity, and a certain type of Christianity that wrecks lives with guilt and misery.
There is a lot of other religions not like this. You can venerate, meditate, pray etc without poisoning minds like this.

The Politics of Depression

It appears there is concern that such enormous numbers of people are living drugged for depression. Oh deary me, why are so many dependent on nasty chemical pills that cost the NHS so much?

It's true that there is too much reliance on drugs drugs drugs. But then that means money for the drug sellers.

For a great deal of depression one of the best remedies is simply exercise. It stimulates the cheerful hormones.
The difficulty is that depression itself makes doing exercise very very hard to do. It makes a person desperate to stop, slump, give up. That's its nature. A system of encouragement and coaching would go a long way.

But beyond exercise, healthy eating, meditation, the elephant in the living room is the appallingly depressing society we live in.

Depression is political.

Since 1979, we've lived through 30 years under two long Governments by supposedly different parties, and our society has been ruthlessly engineered to centre on wealthy people getting wealthier. Inequality hasn't been greater since before the World Wars.
This destruction of our society, once beautiful, has been like a juggernaut of destruction ridden though every human value, every piece of kindness, beauty, safety and health that made up a decent society.

Violence rules our streets and invades our homes. Domestic violence and rape are an epidemic. Police are useless unless you are rich.
Drugs destroy huge numbers, not just addicts, but their families and lovers. But a lot of money is made from drugs.
Alcohol is freely sold everywhere, every other shop sells it, at all hours. Young people are dying of it through disease. It's fuelling violence everywhere. But it makes money.

Women, girls, boys are bought and sold, whether for full sex or bits of sex stopping short of coitus. They aren't the ones making the big money.
Almost all parents are forced out to work by crazy property prices, leaving children neglected, to grow up into yet more violence, drugs and robotic lives.
Films games and popular books glorify violence, make booze part of almost all everyday events, reduce sex to a physical grunt. More money is made.

Jobs are insecure, pensions a joke, unemployment support strips life of dignity and comfort. The money saved isn't going to ordinary people.
Families are torn apart by the drugs, alcohol, violence everywhere, financial insecurity, debt.
Community projects go unfunded, collapse. Post Offices are closed that are vital centres of community life, and privatisation blights community networks.

Thousands of families have their children threatened by insane social services, getting fat fees for extracting perfectly healthy kids for adoption.
Hospitals are places of terror where you wait hours or days in pain for emergency treatment; or die because an operation becomes available too late. If you do get in you risk dying of hospital infections. Crowded wards with mixed sexes, dirt, impossibly overworked staff, make it a misery being there.
New mothers are dying of the Victorian puerperal fever because cost cutting throws them on the street within hours of giving birth.
Our elders are forced into institutions that then abuse them and neglect them. Life reduced to mechanical survival. Money thinking.

Education and opportunity is no more unless you're rich or take on massive debts.
Banks lie to people and persuade them it's safe and sensible to borrow money they can't afford to repay. Then bailiffs can knock your door in, or knock you to the floor, in order to take your possessions away.
Aggressive companies constantly invade our privacy, or threaten us, or cheat us.
An aggressive government invades our privacy, and plans to do it more efficiently with databases, forced 'home visits', cameras, ID Cards and tracking us. Because it all helps certain businesses make money.

Try to complain about any of it - it gets you nowhere. Poorly paid junior staff give scripted answers, acting as a buffer group so the wealthy mangement can't be touched. Complaints drag on for years building fat files, making huge money for lawyers, winning perhaps a grudging sorry, or rarely, some money: but nothing is improved about what happened.
Public consultations are smokescreens. Afterwards the wealthy do what they wanted to do anyway.
Consultants make big money to hold meetings, write reports, for projects that don't happen, or cause wreckage in our lives. But consultants are not accountable for what they do.

Meanwhile MPs earn four times what we do, and on top, cheat to get massive expenses, free (expensive) houses etc.
Companies are demanding we work for nothing (unpaid overtime, 4 day week).
Redundancy and repossession stalk us.
Fatcat directors roll in money that they rip out of the national economy that supported them and let them do it.
Bank directors and managers get massive payouts for wrecking our lives with forced debts, cheating us, terrorising us, overworking us, repossessing us.

It's ALL about putting money first. Is it surprising people are depressed?
We once had a decent society. Until the 80s.

Depression is suppressed, helpless anger.

Saturday, 13 June 2009

The Morality of Passivity

This is an essay on morality, about the difference between being active or passive. It looks at murder, mercy killing, domestic violence, international exploitation.
From that introduction you can decide whether to read more or not.

It's a piece of Philosophy, which for some might be a bit hard to read. But take heart, it's got guts!

I agree with Ash (see footnote) that defining ‘morally relevant’ as a matter of praise or blame is too limited. I add that such a definition leads straight to Plato’s Hydra – as in how many people’s votes praise X and how many assign it blame? Alternatively we could examine exactly who, outside of the demos mass of people on a majority vote, has the authority to praise and blame? Neither works.

But from there, to merely say that something is morally relevant means we use it to make a moral decision, really only moves the words around without saying anything about the meaning of moral relevance.

So to take it further I suggest that to be morally relevant, something has to contribute to a hierarchy of desire, or value.

What we desire most, as in we value it the most highly, is helped by or hindered by what is morally relevant. Still thinking of that hierarchy of what is most valued, something is not morally relevant if it does not move an action up or down a hierarchy of desire or value.
Now having done the philosopher's duty of defining my terms, onward.

In Frances Kamm’s example given by Ash, a doctor disconnects a patient from a life support machine, which means the patient will die. According to Kamm the doctor ‘allows’ the patient to die; she does not ‘kill’ the patient (make the patient die). She merely fails to prolong life.

In Rachels’ case of killer cousins, also cited by Ash, one cousin kills their intended victim. The other cousin finds their victim is dying anyway, but does nothing to stop it, when they could have. Thomas Ash says “Here our intuition is that both Smith and Jones [the two killer cousins] behave equally badly.

I cannot agree. My intuition shrieks that the cousin who actively kills is morally worse. An active killer intervened where there was no question of their victim, otherwise, dying. Had the killer not interfered the victim would have lived out their entitled span of life. The killer is squarely and totally 100% responsible for the death.

The other killer who refrains from acting, has a situation where the death was going to happen anyway. Crucially, they are not totally responsible for it.

If the death were wholly due to their inaction, that would remove the responsibility or causality from whatever other factor created the fatal situation before they arrived on the scene, or before they had a chance to act. The death is only partly due to their inaction, not wholly due to them.

There is a useful comparison here with the doctor who switches off life support. In both cases a death is happening, and in both cases the agent chooses not to provide what is necessary to avert the death. Other factors are different of course. The doctor acts, does something with the switch, which confuses the issue a bit as this is action not passivity.
But it doesn't confuse if we remember that it was the doctor who originally switched on the life support. So by switching off, the doctor resumes a passivity that could have been taken at the outset. That is, it is not the doctor who was the originator of the dying process. The "allowing" nature of the death is similar in that the original cause of death is not the doctor/ killing cousin.
There are other issues that make it morally different obviously, but here I am only looking at the active or passive cause of death.

In the example of the killer cousins, the victim is drowning. We can get clearer by asking why? People don't drown for no reason. It might have been because of their own ignorance, or stupidity, in swimming in that place on an outgoing tide. It might have been a hidden, treacherous current that pulled them under.

But if we say that the passive killer is no less responsible for the death than the active killer who drags down a safely swimming person, why then the victim’s own agency in choosing to swim in a dangerous place, or their ignorance that led to doing it, these become irrelevant. By giving the full responsibility for the death to the passive killer cousin, we are denying any responsibility to their victim, whose actions do in fact carry responsibility.

So to review, I maintain that the moral responsibility for a death by an active killer is solely their own. But the moral responsibility for a death involving a passive killer is shared, between the victim’s own agency, and the killer’s inaction.
Moral philosophy need not be, and I think seldom is, as simple as yes/no dualism. Morality needs more than individuals who are simple dark or light figures.

In speaking of shared responsibility with more or less on each side, the proportion of shared responsibility would vary according to the type of situation. For example we would probably allocate less responsibility to the passive, inactive killer who arrived only seconds before the victim died, and who did not know how to resuscitate. We might allocate less responsibility to a young child, more to an older one or to an adult.
There could be interesting situations like the determined suicide who warns the new arrival to do nothing as this will only require a repeat attempt to die. Much debate could hang on that one!
I am not going into all that but will just note that a case by case assessment is necessary to determine the balance of responsibility just because it is not yes/no simple, plus there are complex cases like the determined suicide which open up a particularly hot set of issues.

This moral characterisation of passivity as responsible, but not wholly responsible, is very important. One application for it is in domestic violence. Here we find argument that the victim "asks for it" or is the innocent sufferer.

(My discussion uses 'she' for victim, 'he' for abuser. This recognises the common statistic that 80% of domestic violence abuses or kills females. Of the 20% of males abused, a death is extremely rare indeed. To hide this enormous inequality by using gender neutral language, is I think, immoral. At the same time I do recognise that a small number of males are victims.)

To take these common characterisations of the victim of violence, in turn, it is true that the victim can do or not do certain things that trigger violence. In my view women in highly suggestive clothing that projects extreme sexuality, who are drunk, walking alone, are not "asking for it" but are certainly taking unacceptably high risks. The colloquial form may mean the same thing.

By taking unacceptably high risks I mean that they do carry some responsibility for an attack. The major responsibility is the attacker's, always, but some belongs to the thoughtless woman. In a healthy society as the old Anglo Saxon Chronicles described it, a naked virgin could ride a horse from one end of the country to the other, untouched. We do not live in that society.

Women are wise who take account of the society we do have. In the West we do not go to the extreme of burkha cover up and chaperoning, which is one solution, though not a very effective one as heavily controlled women still get raped and attacked. Westerners are left to assess just how much suggestive clothing, just how much drunkenness, just how much isolation, constitutes a lessening of responsibility for an attacker?

Not much in my book. Strictly any lessening of responsibility there is, is practical rather than moral. Properly behaved men would resist a naked virgin, clearly the worse for drink, alone on a horse!
My main point is that Western women of wisdom must recognise and shoulder the difficult art of taking responsibility for their own vulnerability, without staying at home all the time unless escorted out.
But that does not excuse her attacker from moral responsibility if a woman is silly and provocative. It is after all, not inevitable for a man to attack her, just more likely that he might - because so many men are weak and inferior. That is not her responsibility, though it is her vulnerability.

Staying home to be safe fails as a solution. The home is often unsafe too, in fact more so. Here the responsibility of the victim in "asking for it" is much less obvious. A woman in her own home is entitled to be partially dressed or naked around her family. She will sometimes be irritating, even exasperating, that's life. It is difficult to see what kind of behaviour means she "asked for it" as in triggering a violent act of abuse upon her.

Possibly there might be an understanding that her abuser has a certain definite trigger. A man suffering from post traumatic shock might lash out violently faced with a certain set of words, or a specific object. Here it might be possible to construct some responsibility on her part if she is not careful to avoid the known trigger, and chooses to live with him before he is over the problem.

But those who say she "asked for it" seem to mean that she is simply infuriating. It may be said that she was bitchy, manipulative, that she attacks her abuser's ego in painful ways until he 'helplessly' snaps, and lashes out at her.
I do genuinely sympathise with a tortured man (or woman) under such treatment. I have seen it happen. But moral responsibility for reacting by violence belongs to the person who uses violence.
That is, there are other options: verbal response, including savage verbal response; cutout, moving towards exit in immediate or final terms; negotiation, including counselling support and anger management; etc.
The victim may be held most seriously responsible for manipulation, but not for the violence. The violence is squarely the responsibility of the person who opts to use it.

One area of information that supports this assessment is that much abuse research, and a lot of anecdotal evidence, tells us that the violence is pretty random. Its victims can desperately try to avoid its onslaught by 'being good:' that is trying not to do any one of a thousand acts of 'provocation.' This has little or no effect. Its failure as a strategy helps to clarify that it is the abuser who is responsible for what he does.

Moving to the second case, from "it's her fault she asked for it" to "she did nothing to deserve it poor lamb" it is far too easy to absolve the victim of responsibility for their own suffering. In a dark vs. light scenario the victim in this version is a helpless angel, not responsible for the violence. They ‘do nothing’ so they are ‘not to blame.’ Only the villainous partner is to blame, according to many.

But passivity is complicit. The passive, suffering partner could almost be compared to the passive killer. Both fail to act, and by failing, they allow (their own) injury or death to occur. Both share responsibility for it.
In the most extreme situation, facing a loaded gun at point blank range, there are at least two options: obey, or get shot. The moral decision is still there, even though almost anyone would understand the overwhelming argument of the gun.

This analysis can cover the all too frequent situation where an abuser threatens to kill his victim if she tries to leave, or worse, kill her child. Under this threat, with not very secure protection offered only under strong pressure by authorities, it is completely understandable that the victim submits.

However my partial moral responsibility laid upon her has a timing element. To hold her partly responsible is not at all to remove the larger share of responsibility from a violent partner. But just as the swimmer has not noticed or checked out the currents of the sea, the victim wife fails to take account of early signs of abuse, to stop it before it grows too much, to forbid, and/or move away from it. Violent abuse typically has a ghastly pregnancy: it does not leap fully grown into existence.

I am well aware that abuse quickly paralyses its victim into passive compliance. The victim begins to feel they deserve it, or it is a special kind of love, or some such construction. Their strength and self respect diminishes as insult and paralysis grows ever more. That is extremely powerful in destroying their agency to act. It also doesn't take long for the paralysis to build up. The window of opportunity to act may only be weeks, or even occasionally, days.

All the more reason to urge the importance of early vigilance among lovers against small signs of abuse, with the incredibly urgent need to act fast, and firmly, to forbid it; if it repeats, to leave. This needs to be educated as a task that usually belongs to the most difficult time to do it, in the romantic honeymoon phase.

Any encouragement of (usually female) masochism via the 'stand by your man' worldview, which sentimentalises bad manners, selfishness, roughness, or rage, is corrupt, especially as this is so often a slippery slope to injury, or death. While the idea is current, as it overwhelmingly is, that women or girls must in any way put up with rough treatment, their health, sanity and lives are at risk.
Arguably if there were no sick socialisation that females must suffer in order to stand by their man, then the minority of males who suffer as victims would not endure what theyy do as a role reversal.

Again, another famous instance of passive complicity is the person who does nothing while their partner tortures or kills someone. Or they merely obey a partner who dominates them. Courts recognise this situation clearly by sentencing the collaborator as well, though normally less than the main agent.

However in these situations there is often a form of gentlemanly sexism that does not hold the ‘little woman’ fully responsible for her crime. While I accept what I call “shared responsibility” I do not see the gap between action and collaboration as being so enormous. It would be better to set the precedent that collaboration carries a high degree of moral responsibility.

Occasionally such a dominated partner is male, but it betrays our understanding of what this means that we would call such a male 'weak.' There is significantly more effort needed to convince us that the dominated male was actually dominated, so their complicity was not a full, equal partnership.

Where the dominated partner is a woman there is usually little need to spell it out that she was dominated. This is the default assumption which can be raised and dismissed in just a few words, or even not mentioned at all as it is taken for granted that the 'little woman' just obeyed her master.
Explanation of the power balance only comes in if a) a report wishes to dwell upon pornographic or grisly details of just how subservient the woman was, or b) if the woman was 'unusually' the dominant partner. Apart from these extremes the assumption is that woman = dominated = not morally equal.

It is, obviously, corrupting to women to treat them as infantile ‘little women’ not capable of moral responsibility. Far more attention needs to be given to how women encourage, manipulate, or otherwise "allow" a monster to develop until atrocity occurs. If women were publicly held far more responsible than they are, for their contribution to crime in a partnership, it would act as a deterrent.

I am reminded especially of the vile Fritzl case where a daughter was imprisoned, raped and bore children in the cellar. Her mother apparently did not challenge her husband's domination and secrecy. If she had she might have saved her daughter from a fate literally worse than death.
In exoneration the Fritzl wife was only seventeen when she married a much older, bullying man. What was the very young wife's family doing? Why didn't they help her stand up to him? Because their particular society is famous for nurturing dominant men and submissive women.

The Fritzl case blazes the danger in weakening women (and our view of them) into obedient dolls. There is no more responsible persojn than a parent: moral agent deluxe! Where one parent acts badly the duty of the other is to correct it, and a subservient wife cannot do that. Nor is it only she who is responsible: the relatives on both sides carry some responsibility for allowing a bully parent to rampage.

In a society where female (or male) subservience to a dominator partner was clearly and universally understood to be corrupt, and dangerous, there would be far, far less scope for all forms of domestic violence: abuse, assault, rape, child abuse, spouse murder. The fact that we live in a cess pool epidemic of it says how far feminism has to go.

Given that inaction carries moral responsibility, how does this relate to the kind of inaction we all practise? For the world is full of people dying of bad water, hunger and preventable disease, yet most of us ignore most of it, at best. Some ignore it completely.

Ash would say that distance, or lack of knowledge, makes no odds. In his compass, inaction and action is not different: there is no distinction between the manufacturer of baby milk who knowingly sells to mothers who cannot get clean water to dilute the powder, and we, who live thousands of miles away.
It's worth noting that we also live in a complex world where millions are deprived, injured, ill, dying, because of a greedy economic system that is also hurting most of us as well, though not as much.

In a purely abstract way yes, we are all responsible for suffering everywhere. In that sense also, I am responsible for the fall of a stone into a pool of water on the other side of the world. That is the wisdom of the mystic who reminds us that everything is connected. I respect that philosophy in helping me to connect, so that I do not disregard things outside my everyday rut as nothing to do with me.

But true moral responsibility lies in power, yours and my power to act or prevent, to move a situation up the hierarchy of (what we) desire or value, or to prevent it slipping downward.

Without power to act I cannot be said to be morally responsible.

Now taking each of those faraway suffering people in turn, yes I could do quite a lot to help some of them. If I reshaped my life I might succour twenty or a hundred to a substantial degree, by direct personal action, for example going to them in my holiday time and feeding them or providing medical supplies. Or going further and opting to work with the aid charities full time.

Individual effort is a tiny matter when dropped into a mess of millions. Even the big charities have limited effect. This is enormously relevant, and affects people differently. To a heroic minority it is all the more important to try to do that tiny bit alone, or to dedicate a life to charity work.
Certainly to do nothing at all, not donate, not write statements and letters where we can, not spread the awful information on how unnecessary all that suffering is, these are morally indefensible passivities.
But beyond what we CAN do, we cannot be held responsible.

Therefore my inaction on many millions living in suffering, dying, carry no significant moral responsibility. Where I do carry moral responsibility is where I clearly can act to save or prevent, if I do not do what I can. It is doing nothing that condemns me, not doing small things.
It is important to remember that small contributions add up. The shift as a pile of pushes finally topples the huge rock comes often without warning, suddenly.

Here the question of distance arises. Clearly I can act to prevent far more effectively in my own zone, whether that is my own immediate locality, or my own society where I know the rules and how to use them. I am therefore faced with a lot more potential responsibility on a local basis.

Secondly the issue of moral intimacy comes in.
We are not disembodied brains in buckets - even though we can devise a fantasy that we might be deceived by a Cartesian demon or futuristic Matrix power elite so that we do not realise brains in buckets is all we are.

What we are, in everyday experience, is hot hairy mammals, whose moral motivation is most strongly stimulated by our genetic kin, our friends, and those similar to us – extensions of our kin. That is hardwired in our brains, bucketed or not. We are embodied as philosophers say, we are bodies. As bodies we're situated in a certain place, which makes THAT PLACE more real, more important to us.

There is no good deploring this incredibly strong preference for our own, as if we ‘ought’ to care for millions of babies somewhere far away, as we care for our own. We just don’t, any more than we can naturally see clearly, what we’re looking at several miles away across a lowland landscape.

Until we can invent the moral equivalent to a telescope, bringing the immediacy of suffering everywhere into our ordinary sense of reality as vividly as we notice our own child's hurt, we will continue to see suffering close to as far more important than suffering far away. How not? Evolution developed us, and all other animals, to service the survival of ourselves and our immediate kin. If our ancestors had not had this imperative built in we would not be here to worry about it.

Nor is it necessarily desirable to invent that moral telescope. It is arguable that if we could feel for suffering everywhere as much as we can feel it HERE, we would collapse into a paralysis of sensitivity. Some anxious personalities already do something very like that and the result is inactive depression. We are in fact more likely to get practical and do direct aid or support a charity if we are not frozen by pointless and unrealistic responsibility on a massive scale.
That is the burden of guilt, something that only very rarely helps: significantly, I think at its rare helpfulness in parenting, that responsibility deluxe, the hot, hairy, animal, hardwired to protect and survive.

Finally there are certain people who are enormously responsible for world tragedies of hunger or epidemics, and it doesn’t help to blur them in with people who have not traded in guns, or poisoned waters by extracting or manufacturing processes. To claim moral ground is to act on this muck. But to share its responsibility completely when we did not make it happen, and can do only a certain amount to stop it (each of us) is a noble masochism that can destroy the ability to act at all.

To conclude, I do not hold myself or others wholly responsible for the death of children far away. Nor are we wholly responsible for suffering or death we fail to prevent. Collaboration is certainly morally responsible, whether for killing someone, failing to feed them, or for submitting to violence oneself.

The doctor who disconnects life support is responsible in part for the death that results. The battered wife, or the partner of a killer who ‘helps’, is responsible, in part, and it’s a large part. The person who does not act to save, protect, nurture or support, shares responsibility for the consequences.

But collaboration, while complicit, is not the whole story. We would not speak of it, see it, as collaboration, if there were not other factors of responsibility there. The swimmer flailing and sinking to death is doing so before their passive killer even knows it’s happening. The patient on life support is dying of something or would not be on it in the first place. The battered wife has a violent partner who was not wholly developed by her passivity, even though I hold her passivity to a harsh judgement. The complicit partner assists a murderer or abuser who begins the horrible job before the partner can interrupt in any way.

I do want to see collaboration held responsible to a very high degree. I think doctors who mercy kill need respect and understanding for the hard moral act of compliance with death they do. I want us all to contribute to feeding the hungry. I want people to refuse to work for the really obvious exploiters and killers. I want ‘little women’ to grow up and be counted, whether they like it or not, especially as responsible parents.

It does no good to spin morality around in the upper air where distinctions fade into each other. Down here among the hot hairy people, the hierarchy of responsibility must be examined with care, to see where its graded differences lie. Such is the task of moral philosophy.

* This article was written in response to an essay by Thomas Ash. I mention Kamm and Rachels as sources: this is taken from Ash, who does not list references.