Sun in your eyes

Page one of the Sun — righteous coverage of the ‘sexist shame’ of Sky newsman Richard Keys, who suggested women were too stupid to understand the offside rule and used “a vile term for sex” (not like Sun favourites ‘bonking’ and ‘shagging’, both impeccably respectful and romantic):

Overleaf: a woman in her knickers accompanied by the traditional topical opinion attributed to her but written by a sneering journalist, the ‘joke’ being that it would be hilarious if a softcore porn model actually knew anything about politics. Sexism? Last page’s news. Don’t worry, darling, you look smashing:


Cook off

Great news for women’s rights as we make headway in that traditionally male-dominated environment, the kitchen. For too long men have been slaving over hot fan ovens to produce meals for their hard-working spouses — but now that women are winning Michelin stars, it looks like cooking is finally being taken seriously as a job. It’s probably because, as Helen Darroze insightfully points out, women are “work more with their heart and their emotion and think about technique after”. Technique? What’s that? Probably some complicated culinary term. Anyway, that’s women all over: 100% heart. When we’re not baking or caring for babies, we’re helping out at cat sanctuaries and emoting about chocolate. Thank God we’re finding ways to channel this mess of over-emoting into real careers legitimised by the success of famous men.

Wife swap


You read it here first: Rupert Murdoch and Jeremy Hunt both have Chinese wives. How nice — perhaps they can get a joint subscription to

The Evening Standard diarist might be surprised to hear that a significant proportion of China’s 1.3 billion-strong population are women. The additional information that not all these women are exactly the same would probably render them speechless with disbelief and might even be dangerous for their health — luckily their ‘newspaper’ remains a bastion of smug misogyny and casual racism, so we can look forward to more groundbreakingly pointless revelations about the ethnicity of our politicians’ partners.

Next week: a Standard exclusive reveals that Nick Cameron and David Clegg (whatever) are both married to Caucasian women! Will this ensure the long-term stability of the coalition?

Stephen Why?

That notable public intellectual Stephen Fry, displaying a shaky grasp of the basic principles of heterosexuality, pities straight men because women find them disgusting:

More here.

This has already been comprehensively taken apart, not least by Rosie Boycott, who pointed out that the reason gay men have sex in parks is not because parks are a really great place to have sex in a way that mere women could never understand, but because historically gay sex used to be illegal and hidden. But I am going to join in (join in criticising Fry, not gay sex in parks — I know when I’m not wanted), because it gives me the opportunity to talk about two topics dear to my heart: 1. Stephen Fry is annoying and 2. sex.

I really feel that all social commentary on anything, ever, could be hugely improved by the addition of the word “some”. Yes, I can believe that some straight women feel that sex is a boring task that has to be gotten over with before you can go to Ikea at the weekends. Adding the word “some” makes comments like this less interesting as well as more true, but that’s probably because they’re not very interesting in the first place.

In medieval Europe, (some) people used to worry that women were hypersexual succubi who would suck out a man’s brain fluid through his penis. Nowadays we are more likely to be accused of being frigid bitches. In reality the number of brain-fluid-stealing succubi and the number of frigid bitches have probably remained constant throughout history, and most people move around the long spectrum of sexual appetites depending on time of day, time of month, partner, emotional condition, etc.

Stephen Fry — who I believe was famously celibate for many years, which sort of undermines his “Gay men fuck constantly!” claim — is popular because he kind of has the atmosphere of a clever person without actually being all that clever. He is the male Carol Vorderman, the famous maths genius with a third-class engineering degree. With these comments, he joins the ranks of that tedious army of self-appointed experts on sex, food, childcare and friendship, who man the ramparts of the Sunday supplements to tell us how and when we should be eating, drinking, fucking, socialising, bringing up kids… In keeping with this culture of vapid nagging, Fry’s comments about female sexuality are pointless and uninformed by any actual sex with actual women. Maybe he thinks that gay men will love him more if he hates on women; maybe he’s a closet straight prevented from fulfilling his desires by the fear that ladies will laugh at his penis. Whichever it is, I bet he is terrible in bed.


The Daily Mail offers a guide to the iPhone apps that they imagine might be of interest to women. Six out of 14 are shopping related, and one involves spending £15 on make-up advice.

My friend Jenny sent me this with the comment, “I’m not sure Moonpig is female friendly so much as lobotomy-friendly. Or perhaps silly old me is getting the two confused again.” I empathise — it is often difficult to tell the difference between acting more feminine and acting more like a total idiot, and many a fine young woman has been lost to the cause through getting the two irrevocably mixed up.

True story: when Jenny got in touch, I was — oh, irony! — actually in the middle of googling around for an app to help me track my menstrual cycle, which I am hippyishly fascinated by. So I can’t fault the initial premise of this article, which is that there are some apps that are more likely to appeal to (some) women than (some) men. Where the article has veered into the bog of unreason is in its assumption that we are constantly consumed by shopping, make-up, giggling and looking pretty. As someone points out in the comments, “I notice that you don’t think women want to read the news.”


This Evening Standard item recycles one of the weirdest and most upsetting sexist cliches: provocative clothes. This is the idea that, if you get raped while wearing clothes that the rapist, or indeed a jury, find sexually arousing, it is basically your fault. Read it and weep here.

Just to run that by you again: “It tells the story of a 14-year-old girl who goes to a party wearing provocative clothes. Drunk and unable to fend off an older teenager’s advances, her evening ends with rape.”
“It tells the story of a 14-year-old girl who goes to a party wearing provocative clothes.”
Who does what?
“goes to a party wearing provocative clothes”
Wearing what?
“provocative clothes”
How old did you say she was?
And she does what exactly?
“goes to a party wearing provocative clothes”
Oh, that is so weird, I thought you said that the film tells the story of a 14-year-old girl who goes to a party wearing provocative clothes, then gets raped. But you could not possibly have said that.

Beyond Stupid

Audrey and Sophie Boss, inventors of dieting concept Beyond Chocolate, discuss their dieting history. Sophie confesses, “I couldn’t take medicine so I couldn’t do the amphetamines thing, and I couldn’t stick my fingers down my throat.” I can relate: my miserable failure to develop a drug habit or eating disorder has left me wallowing around in a pool of my own fat, unable to rouse myself to do anything more than blob along to the kitchen now and then to guzzle wicked, sinful food. But if Sophie can’t even manage to do a basic thing like suppress her appetite with speed or make herself vomit after eating, how can we trust her to give us dieting advice?

Yes, it turns out Sophie had a road-to-Damascus moment when she discovered the groundbreaking principles behind Beyond Chocolate: “I went headlong into doing this stuff, eating when I was hungry and stopping when I’d had enough.” Woah! Eating when hungry? Stopping when full? This kind of complex strategic genius deserves more analysis — perhaps a book and a website to milk cash from depressed women with eating disorders?

“I could do that as a diet, but I couldn’t make it part of my life — I thought, I need support.” Sophie, Sophie. Many things in life, from middle eastern peace deals to divorce, are very difficult and need support to implement. But if eating when you are hungry is one of them, you are in pretty serious trouble.

Apparently, so are a lot of other women — in one of Audrey and Sophie’s workshops, they helpfully inform a rapt audience, “The hunger signals that our bodies give out are as clear, as strong, as specific as the need to go and do a wee.” I was going to write a joke about that, but then I got distracted and wet myself. Or did I eat a biscuit? I can’t tell.

Beyond Chocolate is peddling a common idea, that all you need to do to get thin and happy is rediscover your natural desires. I have bad news: eating only when you want to eat will not make you thin. That is why professional anorexics like Jennifer Aniston are on about as many calories per day as a concentration camp inmate. Similarly, fucking only when you really want to will not make you a nonstop sexual athlete, any more than exercising only when you feel like it will make you an Olympian. We ignore our real desire not because we’re not aware of it, but because female desire is often kind of socially inconvenient.

Guess what XXRay Specs’ favourite solution to feeling shit about yourself is? That’s right: feminism! OK, feminism won’t make you thin either, but it will make you less likely to spend money on stupid dieting advice.