Wednesday, 17 October 2007

Be My Baby

My head has been buzzing with various topics lately but none coherent enough to put down on here. However, an article in today's Guardian along with a friend's unplanned pregnancy, has left my internal world spinning.

Do you know there's an important anniversary next week? It's the anniversary of when abortion was legalised in this country. At last, women were acknowledged the legal right to have control over their own bodies. They could make the choice concerning reproduction. Why not, heterosexual (and some queer men) make those decisions every day, without judgement. And have no problems doing so.

Yet again, the ugly right-wing religious fanatics of America have reared their heads. As well as several states taking away women's right to emergency contraception, they want to lower the 24 week limit on abortions. And it's frightening to think Britain might be considering the same thing. You think governments would embrace abortion more. A lower population of wanted children means less of a drain on local and national social care resources. The illusion of smaller classrooms and lower unemployment rates could become a reality for some political parties.

But there seems to be such a stigma against this. Bear with me. Under no circumstances am I advocating women to be forced into abortions but to have it presented as a potential option to an unexpected pregnancy. It's not murder, it's not pissing off God, it's not selling your soul to Satan. Do those who say it's an act of murder give any thought to the circumstances when imposing this blanket judgement? What about a woman who has been raped or sexually abused and become pregnant as a result? It's all very well telling her to carry through with the pregnancy and give it up for adoption. Imagine living with the knowledge that this thing, this reminder of your pain and your abuser is growing inside your body. Or what if you simply don't want it? I seriously doubt before every pro-lifer engages in a sexual act that could result in a pregnancy stops for a moment and ponders over the potential life they could be creating. And don't get me started on eejits that claim even condoms cause murders. How dare they when an AIDs epidemic is sweeping across Africa, another example of humans literally fucking each other over? So, going back to the original comment on condoms, no male should masturbate because they might be killing off potential babies? Again, I'm sure every male pro-lifer thinks exactly the same thing when he's shaking hands with the bishop.

But am I getting angry for nothing? The facts speak differently. How many babies born at 24 weeks survive? 1%, rising to 11% at 23 weeks (Guardian, 17th October 2007). Are there really vast amounts of lives being taken? Yes, these embryos have the potential to grow into babies, toddlers, children, teenagers, adults, middle aged, old aged individuals. Though here I have to admit my glaring contradiction that came to me when I was reading the fabulous We Need to Talk About Kevin. I believe abortion is a right but believe the death penalty is wrong. Does that mean I only value life in adults? Or teenagers if you're talking about America, where states can chop and change legislation on the death penalty. In a way, that's true as I don't believe you have human rights (or consciousness) until you come shooting into this world, whether that's via a vagina or tugged out via the intestine.

That's irrelevant. What I value is women's rights in this society. I may not always agree with the decisions they make but I am trying to learn to respect them. I may not wish their lives upon me but I should remember it's their life to live.

The Guardian article that created this ramble can be found here: Clickey click

Tuesday, 2 October 2007

Ian Curtis, compression and Vanity Fair

The cosmic forces in the world are keeping me away from something I want. Very badly.

Control, the new film depicting the life and times of Ian Curtis, opens on general release in the UK this week. I adore Joy Division and the Manchester scene of the 1970s/80s since catching 24 Hour Party People on television one night. It's now one of my most played DVDs and my 'cheer up' film.

Alas, due to other social events and work, the earliest I can see this film is Monday. Monday?! Monday?! So I am not a happy bunny especially as my social life is going to have to be compressed and packed away for the next 8 months or so. Control marks the countdown to when my life is reduced to university, food, paid work and D.H. Lawrence (for no other reason than he's my author of the moment).

My annoyance was kicked off by reading the following article in ysterday's email edition of the Guardian (more on that later) on disability. The writer's stance in the article is that Control contains many themes but one theme that has been overlooked is one of disability. Ian Curtis is probably one of the most famous epileptics, at least in musical history. I read in a magazine article (possibly NME) that even the drum loop could set Ian off into a fit. You can see how music became both a love and an endurance test for him.

As with such articles, it goes off on a tangent and queries whether it is right for actors to depict disabilities they do not suffer from in reality. The comparison of Laurence Olivier blacking up to play Othello has caused some anger. See what you think - link to the article here. As a side topic, Francesca Martinez, who is mentioned in the article, is not a very funny comedienne. Well, she wasn't when I saw her almost a year ago. Her act was primarily based upon her disability which would have been interesting if it had been actually funny. Perhaps her act is improved - she apparently got excellent reviews at the Fringe.

And to my last point. I recently invested in a copy of Vanity Fair, the magazine. It's listed in the women's lifestyle section of most magazine sections. When you see straplines such as 'Iraq's Millions' and 'Bush's Bunker' (and actually referring to a person rather than anatomy) paraded alongside magazines proclaiming "Britney's Booze Bloat!" and "Chantelle is sick after every meal!" you wonder what the world is coming to.

Anyhoo, I read an interesting article on the media and presentation of information. Many newspapers have embraced the web and many post articles on-line, often free of charge. But this creates a problem for the editors. Individuals may not choose to invest in the money for a physical copy of the newspaper when they can access the articles for free. Indeed, as I discovered on my volunteer work placement, the Guardian on-line database has articles and news stories going as far back as the early 1970s.

For me, the news is part of my day. It doesn't feel right if I haven't glanced at the email edition of the Guardian (I pretend it's environmentally friendly to get the email edition - in reality it's so I don't waste money on a paper I don't have time to read) or catch the BBC institution of the Six O'Clock News. Information retrieval and presentation is something that interests me. Probably explains why I want to be an archivist. When I on holiday, I either invest in a copy of a broadsheet or log onto the BBC website, just to check Britain hasn't sunk into the sea when I've been away.

So, what is the way forward? The article (which doesn't appear on Vanity Fair's website - smart move) claims by 2012, the Internet will take over 'traditional' forms of news reporting. In some ways, I welcome that as it means information will, hopefully, more more accessible to the masses. But it's the choice of what news people choose to take in. Will they frequent downbeat stories about what fucked up things humans are doing to each other (most recent, events in Burma) or will they favour the latest in Britney's fall from grace?

I hope to God it's the former rather than the later.