Thoughts on EU ref

A pretty tight & divisive result in today’s EU referendum vote. I admit I know pretty much nothing about economics, & hadn’t/haven’t a clue about the financial implications/disadvantages/advantages of Britain leaving the EU. I won’t pretend to be an expert or fortune teller unlike so many others who suddenly became professors of all things EU over the last few months. But my gut instinct was always to stay united with Europe. I’m bemused by so many of our older generation voting to leave in stark contrast to the majority remain young who are the ones who’ll have to live with the consequences. If that’s not selfish & cruel I don’t know what else is.
What I just want to say is more about an emotional response. I feel gutted, disappointed, upset & angry. I’m angry that this political game our *leaders* revel in means appealing to the lowest common denominator, stirring up shit, making poor Brits hate other poor Brits (and anyone else poor & non- Brit) while the *establishment* – on both sides – will never suffer any negative consequences of their actions. Cameron resigning doesn’t mean he’ll be joining the dole queue. No, the man who presided over the most vicious cuts to public services & cruel welfare policy changes, will swan off to continue to live a life of luxury & entitlement, belonging as he does to a super rich family whose money has a tax free sun tan. 

It is ever thus. The rich will be alright. Us “ordinary, hardworking, decent folk” are the ones to suffer pretty sharply from the decisions made by the entitled elite,whether the “decent” folks of Farage’s imagination or everyone else. 

I’m upset not just because of this democratically voted for result that us who voted remain lost, but also because of everything that has gone before & leading up to this: the general change in mood & the consequences of this gradual lurch back to right-wing, nationalistic thinking that is seeing a surge of far right movements across Europe. 

Europe is a world leader in human rights, decent societies, peace and stability in a world where people are still publically executed for being gay or girls abused with FGM. Why regress & not want to be part of that? Why try to create more devision than unity?

Despite personal grievances & the many problems we do have (no one is perfect) , these are mere annoyances compared the wars, oppression & violence of many other parts of the world. Europe should be a shining example of how we can all live together in peace. I worry about how this rabid nationalism that has influenced the leave vote, I worry about the support for people like Farage (but WHY is he still here when he was voted out???) and I despair that my Labour Party has let down so many of us “ordinary, hardworking, decent” folks so much so that support has switched to the right. 

We do need change, we need a “revolution”, but why oh why has this change gone to the right & their very divisive & insular thinking?? We need sensible conversations about immigration & integration. We need to not worry about offending sensibilities  when doing so (ie being too scared to tell religious communities that some of their cultural & religious traditions do not belong in any decent society). I’m not happy with the “regressive left” anymore than I am with right wing ideology – both are alienating & irrational. We need to uphold human rights, equality, tolerance and the positivity of difference & integration. I believed that being part of a strong Europe would be the way. I don’t know what this country the “take Britain back” lot are on about. Back from what? 

There’s been much vitriol from both sides but the results speak for themselves – those of us who live in more harmonious, multicultural & diverse communities have voted overwhelming for remain. The leave votes come from the pockets of homogenous white Brits & in areas where integration from immigrants, if there are any, has failed or never taken off, not surprising from areas with strong UKIP support. Are we all to blame for this? If people feel not listened to they rightly get angry. 

Britain is one of the greatest countries in the world – for its freedoms, its equality, its progressiveness. But then we’re marred by little England mentality, of xenophobia & bigotry. 

I think the number of languages you hear walking around London is a postive & I love that my kids secondary school has over 100 different languages spoken – my friends and family come from every continent on earth. How do you talk to those in Britain today who think that’s a terrible thing? 

I don’t know. I just want a better world & hope my children inherit a more peaceful & integrated one. I’m angry & saddened that the generations above me didn’t think the same & I’m saddened by a country I thought was more progressive than it actually is.

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Everyone deserves a decent, affordable & safe home

Words can’t express how much I love my new home. I want to burst with happiness. Finally I have somewhere that I adore, that I can take pride in, that I’m not embarrassed for people to see when they visit, for the children to have friends round without me feeling humiliated at the state of the grotty kitchen, old carpets etc.

I walk around it loving every room & imagining how I will eventually decorate & put up shelves (for all the books etc I still have unpacked in boxes) when I can afford to do it, bit by bit. But for now, I’m content as it is. It feels like a proper home – a groundfloor flat in a friendly & relatively quiet council estate. A home that my dedicated & empathic housing officer in my local council found for me, back in my ‘home’ postcode, after weeks of looking at grim houses in various states of disrepair in neighbouring boroughs, miles away from the children’s schools, my work & everything I’m familiar with. We had been housed in temporary accommodation dation in another borough for several weeks & I was actually pleasantly surprised that it wasn’t at all as bad as I imagined. Infact when the council handed me the details of a temporary 3 bedroom house I remember being shocked & saying I thought it was going to be a one room bedsit or hostel. Others aren’t so lucky – too many families are stuck in temporary accommodation.

I feel lucky. I am. I have a fantastic home with the help of my borough’s homefinders scheme. A scheme that supports you to find a “good quality private rented home”, though you only qualify if the council has a statutory duty to assist you (including approved homeless applicants) and if you:

  • Are homeless or threatened with homelessness (including some severely overcrowded households)
  • Are eligible (defined by your immigration status, whether you are ‘habitually resident’ in the UK, in some cases your country of origin, and whether you are classed as a ‘worker’.)
  • Are in priority need (have children or are pregnant, vulnerable due to age or medical conditions or other special reasons, or made homeless by fire or flood)
  • Have a local connection
  • Have been made homeless through no fault of their own

It’s also important to note that those in housing need here are now told that there is no hope of social housing and the private rental market is their only hope even though there is a severe lack off affordable housing and rents are spiralling out of control.

In my case, we were evicted from our previous home and made homeless through no fault of our own. The landlords wanted their property back. It’s theirs, that is their right of course. But for many 1000s of people like us who are on low incomes & are unable to afford the often extortionate upfront fees of the current rental market, not to mention the several thousand pounds now needed to pay a months rent & deposit in the obscene housing market of London, we have little or no choice or control over where we live.

So then started the pretty traumatic and at times humiliating process of asking the council for help. I don’t want to dwell on that part of this too much as I think I went though it all in a state of shock. I’ve had a run of stressful life events one after the other and by the time I faced eviction I felt I couldn’t cope with any more stress. Infact I remember thinking that I was going to finally lose the plot.
But, I didn’t. With help, support and love from family & friends we got though it all & now I feel elated at this new start. I am also grateful to my council’s housing and homelessness officers who helped me get here.

It was almost worth all the distress! Was it? Do those on low incomes, struggling in a country with immense wealth that dictate to the rest of us how much life actually costs these days, have to go through these horrible processes just to have a decent, safe & secure place to call home? If they’re lucky.

My new home was once social housing, but because of right-to-buy, it’s now in private hands, therefore subject to market rents & no longer do many of us, who used to be eligible, have the security of a council tenancy and lower, more affordable rents. The scandal of barely any new social housing built to replace those lost to the private market has now resulted in nearly 40 % of ex council flats now being rented privately.

I may have now landed on my feet but 1000s of other families are still homeless and stuck in B&Bs and other overcrowded and unsuitable accommodation. There is a housing crisis and homelessness crisis in England. What can we do?

Donate to homeless charities

http://www.mungosbroadway.org.uk/how_you_can_help/make_a_donation?gclid=CNDW6pDY-ccCFYu4GwodtpoDog

http://england.shelter.org.uk/donate?reserved_appeal_code=20150401-IG-30&gclid=COGK5Kn8-ccCFcFuGwodc70HQg

http://www.centrepointroom.org.uk/?AppealID=RWA1314GO&PackageID=SA&xtor=SEC-1787-GOO-%5BHomeless_Phrase_Grant%5D-%5B%5D-S-%5Bhomeless%20charities%5D&gclid=CJuWrcL8-ccCFdUaGwodonoFgA

http://www.crisis.org.uk/

http://www.barnardos.org.uk/what_we_do/our_work/homelessness.htm

Write to your MP

http://england.shelter.org.uk/campaigns/making_change_happen/contact_your_mp/writing_to_your_mp

http://homesforbritain.org.uk/action/

Support The Big Issue https://www.bigissue.org.uk

And let those of us lucky to live in safe, affluent countries, where there are options and support, not forget the far, far worse unbelieveable trauma of those who are fleeing war and oppression & seeking sanctuary & peace for themeslves & their families – http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/5-practical-ways-you-can-help-refugees-trying-to-find-safety-in-europe-10482902.html

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Tell MAMA appoints Nathan Lean to its advisory board…. why?

This.

Why is there such screamishness about discussing Islam & some of the actions of some of the followers of Islam – critically today? What are people afraid of?

Futile Democracy

I like Tell MAMA. At times I find it conflates criticism, mockery, or even hate for Islam as doctrines and dogma, with anti-Muslim bigotry, but on the whole Tell Mama is a necessary force for documenting and fighting anti-Muslim bigotry, that is undoubtedly a problem. But it seems their concept of anti-Muslim bigotry differs somewhat from mine, in its recent appointment of Nathan Lean to the Tell MAMA advisory board:
tellmama

When the late Christopher Hitchens released his book ‘Missionary Position‘ exposing the abuses of power of the much loved Mother Theresa, there was silence from the New Illiberals. No cries of Catholicophobia. No pronouncements on the offensive nature of the title of the book. Nothing. By contrast, when the late Christopher Hitchens released his book ‘God is not great‘ – a play on the chant ‘God is great‘ by Muslims – the New Illiberals…

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What next?

I write this today feeling a curious mix of demoralisation, anger, strength, weakness and want to both give up & retreat into myself as well as feel a fire in my belly and want to shout out loud and protest.

I really am shocked that this country – after the last few years of cruel cuts to the poorest and a promise of more to come – has voted the Tories back in. I honestly thought more people would lean towards Labour, not necessarily in support of them but purely to get the Tories out. Even the polls thought it’d be a closer fight. I don’t follow the line of many I know that there’s a conspiracy about, such as why use pencil to vote etc etc as sadly the reality is that people voted freely for the Tories for whatever reason and somehow believed the heavily biased right wing press.

I’ve never been an Ed Milliband supporter and never wanted him as leader. He may be a perfectly nice man but he’s not leader material – as he has found out now a bit too late for the good of Labour and the country though. And I’m angry that politicians like him are so eager to hold on to positions of power – for what? Personal gain? – despite their obvious failings and not being the best for the party or country. It’s got to be about who is best for all, not about personal career progression However unfair it may seem you NEED a charismatic frontman/woman who can work the cameras and media and gather support.

But that’s the problem isn’t it? It’s all about what you can do or get for yourself. And it was ever thus. Hence why sociopaths seek positions of power and ordinary, decent, socially conscious people aren’t drawn to such roles but would do a hell of a lot better in them. I’m not really calling Ed Milliband a sociopath but I do think he MUST have known he was unsuitable, not liked very much and left many possible Labour voters like myself in a conundrum. (I say possible as I was a Lib Dem voter previously until they slept with the enemy & lost my vote for the foreseeable future)

I believe I have a strong social conscience and care deeply about my fellow humans. I’ve always been active protesting, demonstrating and fundraising for a large number of causes. And now I feel dejected and while I do want to protest further – I will attend the upcoming anti-austerity protests if I can afford the travel there at that time – I feel a huge lack of energy and will as my own personal circumstances are on the edge of an abyss of make or break.

My family is facing eviction this summer from our home of 9 years, through no fault of our own, eviction under a section 21 where landlords do not have to give any reason (though in our case they want their property back). Of course that is their right. It’s their property not ours. It does leave us homeless though & with no idea of where we’ll be come autumn and on top of all that my family and I have faced these last few years – bereavement, mental illness, diagnosis and ongoing treatment for rare genetic disorder, rising debt, redundancy & further job losses, severe financial strain, loss of friendships as their lives go on different paths – it feels almost like the last straw for me. Of course it’s not – my children are healthy, happy and doing extremely well in school/college & that really is the most important thing – but I am often, almost daily, feeling like I’m walking along the very crumbly edge of a shear cliff face and at huge risk of toppling over into an abyss. And sometimes I feel like just jumping into it & all this stress and pressure will go. I won’t though. Don’t worry…the feeling there can be strong but I’m rational and sensible enough to talk myself out of dark thoughts. Plus I’m on good prescribed drugs lol

This is what depression – for me – feels like and I’m at the maximum dosage of my anti-depressive medication with my GP (who is amazing & supportive by the way) reluctant to give me something else alongside as she doesn’t want me to zombify myself. Rightly so. My children keep me going as well as my hopeless optimism that things will be alright in the end. I do have a light at the end of the tunnel, I know that. I am working and studying hard to get there and once I’ve got there things will look up.
So all these mixed, confused and all over the place emotions have led me to conclude that I will have to knuckle down & concentrate on my own immediate future and that of my children. That I need to think what is best for us while I start the begging process to get us suitably housed in the next few months. That I know what rights I have and what financial help I can access. Maybe all those in similar positions and worse need to do the same: Look out for yourself & your family first now, before we can take the fight to get the Tories out in 5 years and end austerity cuts to the poor. Think more like a Tory voter eh? Hard though, when you have a conscience.

I’ve had several very kind and generous offers of help from friends and strangers on twitter and facebook and while I’m so very grateful and thankful to them all, all genuinely lovely people, I don’t wish to sound ungrateful but I’m not asking for money (unless you’re a millionaire & not sure what to do with your spare £500,000 – jokes) – I’m venting frustration about everything and wondering how, at nearly 40, I’m in this ridiculous position. That no matter how hard people like us are working we are going nowhere financially. We, like so many in this country, live week by week & have no capital, assets, savings. Hard work pays? Does it? It only seems to pay for those in charge who rake in massive bonuses while the workers who provide that revenue are paid pennies. That’s capitalism for you. The few rich are only rich on the hard work, blood, sweat and tears of the poor masses.

I’m genuinely scared of the next set of cuts the Tories will unleash on us. Working in healthcare I know of many, many people far worse off than me – people with disabled family members, carers, those with mental health issues etc – who face conditions getting even worse. This should be shocking to all. Why is it not more shocking?

#SaveourNHS

http://www.thepeoplesassembly.org.uk/end_austerity_now_national_demonstration_saturday_20th_june

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Why I’m so angry with an over-sensitive minority trying to take over feminism

Today on twitter we learn that some people are so triggered by the sound of clapping (these people have also attended a conference where clapping is something that might just happen) that @NUSwomcam tweeted:

Cue a pretty funny reaction to what at first seemed like a joke, but it’s not! They’re serious ffs.

@JPSargeant78‘s excellent blog also covers this.

But I don’t want to just talk about people so scared of clapping when they have bravely barely recovered from their travel to the conference, past all those humans, talking, sneezing, even looking at them for maybe 2 seconds. Nah, it’s the seeping attitude of a rise of puritanical take on *feminism* that makes me pinch myself to see if they’re actually real & not reincarnated Mary Whitehouses.

To me, MY feminism is about taking on the world and doing/saying/being whoever we want to be, with or without a vagina, challenging out-dated, odious, vile and just plain stupid views on what it is to be a woman. I know I’m lucky to live somewhere where I can shout and scream and even just sit quietly if I feel like it, without fear of persecution and punishment. So I’m never going to be happy with the female victim mentality that certain feminists seem to want to be dominating the debate.
I used to follow @Everydaysexism but then got tired of seeing the same type of whiney RT by them – of women thinking they are being harrassed and abused when men dare to compliment them in the street, or look at their boobs (hell, I look at boobs all the time), or ask them out, or make dongle jokes.
YES I have been stalked, harassed, abused, attacked before but you know what? I’m not a cowering victim. I shout back. I think the messages “SHOUT BACK”, “TAKE BACK THE NIGHT” etc are powerful and empowering. Get an attitude on. Tell the creep on the bus who sits next to you on an empty deck to FUCK OFF BEFORE I KICK YOUR HEAD IN (actual l words I have used when a man did just that & tried to touch my legs & you know what, he moved pretty quick. Hey guess what also? Me in a mini skirt & tights is not an invitation to touch them without MY consent ok?)

OK, I concede here that not everyone has that confidence or attitude and, having a teenage daughter myself who I’m very protective of, I know not everyone has the self-defence training or fight not flight response or is made that way & many men and situations that are created can be and are very intimidating. Men are also by & large physically stronger than women & can overpower even the most brashy girl or woman in seconds. I know this. Hence why I’m a very strong advocate of self-defence training*. Everyone should have some. I didn’t have someone talk to me about any of this as a teen. I got into some hairy situations. I talk frankly with my own daughter & she has developed a feisty attitude I’m so proud of.

So back to Everydaysexism – they ended up blocking me. Why? I can’t tell the exact tweet but I did try to tell them to stop making women feel so much like victims all the time & empower them to stand up for themselves instead. Why is that seen as wrong in their eyes?

Guess what? The world is a shitty place a lot of the time. There are some horrible, nasty cunts out there who do want to hurt you, whether with words or with fists or weapons. So as I strongly believe the role of a parent is to support your children to cope with bullies etc by standing tall, not meekly crying in a corner, I feel empowering people to feel the confidence to say no, or leave me alone, or just back the fuck off is better for everyone than asking a conference hall to NOT CLAP.
This also goes for the fucking loons who think it’s funny to send rape threats to women online – especially prevelant it seems when it’s a woman talking about feminism. Laugh at them, ignore them, block & report them. The vast majority of them are doing it for some sick kick & there’s no way they will go through with any such threat – they are designed to scare you, shut you up & bait you into a hysterical reaction. Don’t give it to them.

Any woman who dares to differ from the offical line of ‘we’re all weak female victims’ is rounded on & hated with such a passion. Look at the reaction any post/video etc by, for example, @CHSommers gets. Why is this?

I’m angry with the over-sensitive minority because they seemingly attempt to dominate the feminism debate with such a pathetic, babying attitude to the world. As if we all should pander to their every tiny whim and *trigger* and if you don’t, you’re automatically an abuser & an ist or ism of some sort. You don’t speak for me. You don’t speak for my daughter. You don’t represent anything but the professional victim. And that does a grave disservice to all survivors out there & does nothing to stop potential abuse.

*Funnyish story from self-defence training I had once. Instructor was a little patronising imo & when I was asked up for a demo to grab his shirt & not let go as he was going to show us how to get out of it, I tore his shirt as I really didn’t let go & he had to work a bit harder. But that’s more real though no? What’s the point of showing fancy moves if they won’t work in a real life situation because you don’t know how to deal with someone who also really isn’t letting go of you? I have learnt a great deal from such training on the whole though, I’m not knocking it!

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#ShirtGate: Don’t believe the hype.

A Many Faceted Thing

With complete incredulity I read yesterday how a world-respected scientist was forced on TV to apologise. The apology wasn’t due to any mistakes in his work (he is part of a team which successfully landed the Philae robot on a comet), but for appearing on TV wearing a shirt.
Dr Matt Taylor has become yet another victim of a feminist movement seeking targets to promote its own agenda. The hijacking of Rosetta by the feminists to criticise the lack of women in science is not unlike the project itself, by harpooning their criticism to a target; however, I hope the anchors fail on this current attachment.

Never mind years of study, practice and excellence leading to his inclusion in the team being the reason many people are aware of him; he is at risk of being known as the shirt guy, and it isn’t fair. I too would cry at…

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Musings on feminism continued…

My teen daughter (15 years old) is currently embracing feminism & developing her sense of self as she approaches womanhood/adulthood. When she was a little tot I found a nightie for her in a charity shop that was from Ants the Movie, emblazoned with the slogan “Girls can do anything”. She’s been brought up by me to know that girls CAN do anything – apart from wee effectively standing up – mainly as I’ve always told her that. Plus she’s surrounded by friends and family that couldn’t care less what sex/gender she was, they all support her in whatever path she chooses to take and don’t conform to gender stereotypes themselves. Same with my boys. Bringing children up to be decent people isn’t hard – just be a decent person yourself & it’ll just all follow (put simply)

As I’ve said previously, it was at around her age that I grew interested in feminism. And like some – I was to find out that the majority of people don’t seem to be passionate about anything much – I was filled with indignation, anger, righteousness etc at learning of the atrocities carried out against females the world over and it was only natural to identify as feminist then.

What does feminism mean to me and why am I anti ‘radfems’?

It’s more recently that I now call myself a humanist, rather than feminist. As it’s (all) human rights I’m interested in. Women’s rights aren’t separate – they are still human rights. I’m feminist in that I care deeply about the rights of women in all matters female – birth, motherhood, sex, marriage etc. But again, they are human rights are they not? And while birth etc occurs physiologically to women, men too are involved – or should be involved & not shut out – from this completely natural part of life.

So I’m fiercely passionate about the rights of girls worldwide to not be forced into marriage, not be raped, not have their genitals horrifically mutliated, who have no say in their futures, and no access to education, and I call myself a humanist now, not a feminist. I do not align myself with those who identify as ‘feminists’ and make a career out of being perpetually offended by the most petty of matters, petty in that if you put them alongside the only too real atrocities that many more women globally suffer from, it seems obscene. I’m fully on the side of Dawkins in the pathetic Elevator gate hooha.

It’s the inability to discuss any matter with ‘radfems’ or about them without completely irrational hysterical bleating on their part & the rush to lable anyone who disagrees as a misogynistic rape apologist. If you say you think the idea of only having sex with someone if you get a verbal yes & are completely sober or it’s rape is a little bit unrealistic, silly & dare I say, not hot, you get accused of defending rape. And I’ve seen self-styled ‘professional feminists’ then put words in mouths to accuse people of then not caring about FGM. In the same breath. Search & read yourself if you can be bothered.

I tweeted what was intended as a joke*, along the lines of “What do radfems & pious theists have in common? No fucking sense of humour. & I bet they’re all shit shags

*Joking isn’t allowed too according to certain tight lipped bores

But it’s only half a joke as there does seem to be a commonality between the two groups of: very repressed sexuality and an almost horrifed reaction to sexually confident & independent women who are happy to drink, have casual sex, party, banter with ‘the boys’ and talk about genitals & sex with glee. I don’t think a lot people are bad people – I think many do have their hearts in the right place & just want peace, safety & justice for all. And no one (except rapists) want rape to ever be a thing. You can be a sexual assault/abuse victim & still go on to enjoy consensual sex. No one should be made to feel bad about enjoying consensual sex. Ever. And wanting consensual sex, enjoying watching consensual sex, having as many or a few partners as you want without someone else coming from a completely different stand point in life dictating to you what is right & permissible in their world & that being the only right way. Fuck them (or not tee hee)

I was myself labelled a ‘feminazi’ recently on twitter. What for? Because I didn’t agree that telling women to drink responsibly was a good effective rape precaution. Like locking your car doors to prevent theft. Firstly, vagina’s aren’t car doors & don’t come with locks. Not in this century anymore anyway. Plus who says what is ‘responsible drinking’? Which then implies women who drink & get drunk are irresponsible which to me smacks of victim blaming.
I said – & I still stand by this – that a woman can drink as much as she wants, she is still not responsible for her rape if she’s unfortunate enough to be preyed on by a cunt. If that makes me a feminazi then so fucking be it. Sober women get raped too! So do women in niqabs. And nuns. And old women in care homes. And young girls and toddlers. NOT ONE OF THEM IS RESPONSIBLE FOR RAPE. ONLY THE RAPIST IS.

If you feel safer by wearing drug detecting nail polish, or not drinking, or not walking at night alone, or not wearing a short skirt then please, do what YOU personally want to do to make yourself feel safer. All I ask is that you don’t judge other women for not choosing the same life decisions as you and then placing any ounce of blame on her for her rape if she ever gets that happen to her. Or ever blame yourself for that matter. Rape is NEVER your own fault. Hence why it’s ‘rape’ and not ‘just sex’

So radfems, please stop throwing the term rape apologist around to anyone who doesn’t agree, as it’s belittling rape as well as totally unhelpful & fucking annoying.

My youngest child, my 6 year old daughter’s school report from last term said that she has a “very strong sense of justice and gets very upset if she thinks something is unfair”. This made us all giggle here at home as of course, we wouldn’t expect anything less from her. It’s funny hearing an outsider (her teacher) describing her in those terms as we’re all like this at home so it’s not anything different. Apple doesn’t fall far from the tree : )

Maybe that confims that many people don’t care enough – or they might care for 5 minutes then carry on watching their soaps. They don’t care about anything much unless it directly affects them. Everyone has an opinion sure. But most people are all talk, no action. Years spent standing alone in school/college handing out – or trying to hand out – leaflets & info on various causes & charities I’ve been passionate about, reinforced that sad belief.
I guess it takes just a few dedicated, passionate people to fire up others to do good in this world. Let’s make sure those people that are the most vocal are the good, decent type, who have something worth listening too. Can we?

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