What gender is a strawman?

Yesterday, I read a news article published in the Independent that the UK government are planning reforms allowing trans people to self-identify without the need for all of the red tape and medical examinations. They’re even allowing an “X” marker for those who feel they sit outside of the binary. It’s a step in the right direction, I’ll grant it that – but it still falls short of recognising that sex and gender aren’t so easily compartmentalised.

I loved reading the comments though. The strawmen were everywhere! Strawmen with rabidly-frothing mouths, throbbing veins in their foreheads and dangerously high blood pressure. Plus a lot of the usual “political correctness gone mad”/”the world’s going to hell in a handbasket” type ramblings.

If you’re not familiar with the strawman fallacy, it’s where one’s claim is substituted with a completely distorted and inaccurate view by another. In this specific case:

Government: “We’ll allow trans people to self-identify on their birth certificates without a doctor’s diagnosis”
Comments: “So you’re allowing sex offenders easy access to women’s toilets, and men to compete in women’s sports?”

The government makes no claims that this will change the legality of sex offences, nor will it make committing said offences any easier. Any sicko motivated enough to prey on women in the ladies’ toilet isn’t going to pause at the door, make a u-turn and go “Drat – I forgot to change my birth certificate first”. Regardless of what’s on your birth certificate, and regardless of which toilet you walk into, the moment you start engaging in lewd behaviour, you’re breaking the law.

The way I read it, the whole “restroom” debate is often over-simplified, unidirectional and littered with similar strawmen. I’m also surprised at how often transmen get excluded from it; when you look at the bigger picture, they’re the game-changers. You can’t force them into the women’s toilet without the risk of someone screaming “Aaargh! A man’s walked into the ladies’ toilet!”, and you can’t allow them into the men’s toilet without admitting your solutions are inconsistent. Beyond the protections already enshrined in law, what can you do to keep the predators out without infringing on the rights of the innocent?

This could be one argument for the abolition of gendered bathrooms. When the debates focus solely on the vulnerability of women and children, they ignore the fact that the overwhelming majority of men are perfectly harmless and have the same attitudes towards sex offenders as they do. It is possible that any sex offender would think twice if other men were using the same bathroom, or if one could walk in at any time. If you’re a husband or father, where are you best placed to protect them? Waiting outside, or in there with them?

There are also no claims that this will change competitive sports in any way, so where they get that nugget of information from is anybody’s guess, but let’s treat it as a valid concern for now. Competitive sports are divided along the men/women divide, so how do you make them trans-inclusive? One way would be to employ a classification system similar to how the Paralympics ensures fair competition. That wouldn’t be so bad, would it?

One thing I’m sure we all can agree on though: jumping instantly to extreme or reactionary conclusions, without any prior debate or discussion, doesn’t exactly help your credibility on the subject.

My thoughts on the so-called “Dementia Tax”

There are a million and one reasons why, in the forthcoming General Election, I will NOT be voting Conservative, but the so-called “Dementia Tax” is one of them. It probably won’t affect me in the short- or long-term, but what it could mean for those who are affected fills me with disgust.

Picture this:

All your life, you’ve worked hard. You’ve earned a living, bought your own home and raised a family. Throughout your working life, you’ve never skimped on paying your Income Tax and National Insurance contributions, and you’ve never required any state support. You’re comfortable in the knowledge that everything you’ve worked for will be passed down to your children.

You visit the doctor one morning, and you’re shocked to hear that you have an age-related condition that, over the years, will significantly reduce your independence. At some point in the near future, you will need around-the-clock care. It would be nice to think that, for all your contributions to the state, the state will reciprocate by looking after you so as not to burden your children.

However, in the 2017 General Election, the Conservatives won; implementing their social care scheme that takes all of your assets into account in order to pay for the care you need. All the money you paid in to that so-called National INSURANCE scheme throughout your decades in work doesn’t count for anything. Your assets are going to be stripped down to the last £100k, so that nice nest egg you were going to bequeath to your children is now mostly going to the State.

Except it doesn’t really go to the State, does it?

Under Tory ideology, the people who are going to be charged with your care are not public servants at all – they work for a private company who now manage the social care provision in your area. As such, they’re motivated more by profit than by service. The quality of care you receive can only be described as “acceptable” – you get the essentials, but your quality of life is rather lacking… and you’re paying for it! Some retirement, eh?

Everything you worked for in the knowledge that your children would benefit from it has now ended up on the bottom line of a profit and loss report, divvied up between the shareholders and the Chief Executive’s fat annual bonus. Or, worse still, siphoned to an off-shore tax haven. You didn’t ask to get ill, and you certainly didn’t choose to – yet you and your family are being punished heavily because of it while complete strangers are rolling in the fruits of your labour.

I don’t know about you, but I find that to be quite the kick-in-the-teeth – a means of asset-stripping the elderly, and funnelling it into corporate profits. It’s disgusting behaviour.

But the good thing is, it hasn’t happened yet. It can be stopped, and I’m going to do my part in stopping it:

I’m voting Labour!

I didn’t know what an “SJW” was either.

During my weekend YouTubing, I watched a couple of videos that appeared to be ragging on so-called “Social Justice Warriors”, or SJWs. Like the term “special snowflake”, it’s not one I’ve come across until recently – it might just be more prevalent in the US than over here. Rather than continue in blissful ignorance, I looked it up.

The opening paragraph on Wikipedia describes the term as “a pejorative term for an individual promoting socially progressive views including feminism, civil rights, multiculturalism, and identity politics”. Okay, so basically anybody whose politics leans to the left. It continues: “The accusation of being an SJW carries implications of pursuing personal validation rather than any deep-seated conviction, and being engaged in disingenuous social justice arguments or activism to raise personal reputation, also known as virtue signalling.” So, by that definition, an SJW is someone who expresses left-leaning political views to serve their own reputation and not out of conviction. Is that right?

The way these videos were describing SJWs, you’d think they were trying to create a new world order by censoring and arguing with everybody who has less-progressive views than them. This actually sounds a bit extreme to me, and I doubt such actions are applicable to most progressives, whether they class themselves as an SJW or not. However, by such definition, it’s not all that different from a vocal Brexit voter shouting down anyone who wants anything but an immediate, hard Brexit. I’m also willing to bet that it’s these extreme fringes that get the press attention and, with simplified black-and-white thinking applied, we all get tarred with the same two brushes.

I hold rather progressive views – I make no apologies for that – but while I’ll express them here and on social media, I don’t insist everybody agrees with them. I’m all for civil debate, but I won’t get involved in a flame war.

I do also hold feminist views, but I’m somewhat more relaxed compared to how feminists are described in those YouTube videos. Again, I make no secret of my feminist views, but you’re more likely to find me acting upon them than preaching about them – it’s called “leading by example”.

In the whole debate about identity and gender politics, while I’m not all that keen on labels personally, I now understand how a lexicon of identities, labels and pronouns is important to those exploring and defining their identities – if a definition already exists, there’s at least one other person who identifies the same way. You’re not alone! I still maintain that all this exploration around gender identities adds vibrancy and colour to what is traditionally a strict monochrome. There does need to be some accommodation on both sides though, especially around the use of pronouns like “xe” and “hir” – it’s easy to add new nouns or verbs to your vocabulary, but as pronouns are woven into the fabric of the English language, new ones take a lot of getting used to, especially to a native speaker of almost 40 years. The singular “they/them/their” comes a lot more naturally.

The way I understand it, activism is a bit like driving a car. Those at the extreme ends have their cars in low gears with the needles on their tachometers constantly in the red: their engines are noisy and angrily revving away, but they’re not going anywhere fast and are likely to be doing more harm than good. The rest of us cruise along in higher gears at a more relaxed pace and make good progress.

I could sum all of that up in just two words…

Calm down!

I didn’t know what the term “Special Snowflake” meant… now I think Katie Hopkins is one!

Two words I often see hurled around on the internet form the term “Special Snowflake”. The term gets flung around whenever I watch YouTube videos on gender issues – the people in those videos tend to be in their teens or twenties, and the comments tend to come from more conservatively-minded people who dismiss their views as ‘unimportant’; that may be true on a global scale, but we all have different personal priorities.

I might just be showing my age or ignorance here, but I had no idea what one of them was. Of course, I had to go and look it up.

Based on the definitions I read, and the people often referred to as so-called “Special Snowflakes”, I can’t help thinking it’s a rather loaded, pejorative definition that doesn’t so much describe someone’s attitudes, but amplifies them. From what I read, Special Snowflakes:

  • Are ‘difficult’ people
  • See themselves as unique
  • Demand attention but won’t earn it
  • Have an overblown sense of entitlement
  • Are offended very easily
  • Often complain about being oppressed or victimised

Is anybody really like this, or is it just an overblown caricature used to fling at the younger generation? Are these attention-seeking ‘snowflakes’ drawing attention only to themselves, or are they using their own experiences to raise awareness of something important to many others? Has anybody even tried listening to and empathising with them to understand the nature of their offence or victimisation, or have they just dismissed it as “complaining”?

However, based on those definitions, I’d argue that one prime example of a “Special Snowflake” is conservative tabloid columnist Katie Hopkins. I know she’s not the kind of person the term usually gets applied to, but based solely on her public profile, she fits most of the definitions quite neatly:

  • She’s not been known to back down from her position, even when presented with verified evidence to the contrary; she’s also not been known to apologise whenever such comments cause mass offence. I’d say that blinkered stubbornness would make her quite a ‘difficult’ person.
  • Her extremely conservative views can be construed as an attempt to appear unique and special – particularly as they provide that ‘love-to-hate’ persona that perpetuates her car-crash celebrity.
  • Looking at her history, it appears she’s not done much to earn the attention she gets. Oxford University wouldn’t accept her, she was not commissioned to join the army due to an epileptic seizure, and prior to her public appearance on a reality TV show, she worked for the Met Office. Where’s her talent? Where’s her expertise? What does she provide to the public besides outspoken opinions?
  • As for being easily offended – in 2013, she admitted on daytime TV to a dislike of “lower class” given names and that she’d prevent her children from playing with anyone who had one. In addition to her rather callous comments about migrants, refugees and Muslims, I’d say she’s offended by anyone who is not of the same social class as herself and is probably upset at her tax contributions being used to provide services and assistance for these people.

I reckon you’d have to be a really unstable and inflexible person in order to meet the criteria of a true “Special Snowflake”.

In fact, come to think of it, it is possible that it is those who use the term to demean others who are the real Special Snowflakes. Think about it!

“I’m holding a Bible… do as I say!”

With Theresa May blabbing on about how her Christian faith is guiding her Brexit strategy, I started getting a rather horrible image of Religion and Politics becoming as intertwined here as it is over in the US. The 2015 General Election was a bit of an eye-opener for me when I saw a handful of Christians, who had up to that point been very vocal about alleviating poverty, voting Conservative on the grounds that David Cameron was a Christian; completely ignoring (or ignorant of) the statistics showing that Foodbank usage had risen exponentially during his austerity-driven premiership. It highlighted a couple of things to me:

  1. Some Christians will take care of their own before anyone else, regardless of need
  2. Religion can so easily be hijacked

As of the 2011 Census, there were 37.5m Christians in the UK, or approximately 60% of the population. Assuming they’re all practising Christians, how many of them, on hearing Theresa May’s statement, will think either:

  1. “she’s being guided by God, so who am I to interfere?”
  2. “is she really, or is she just saying that?”

In Christian belief, God holds ultimate power and authority, but the word of God is inexplicit and open to interpretation. The two together are incredibly dangerous in the wrong hands. Take Leviticus 18:20 (“You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination”), combine it with Proverbs 11:19 (“And he who pursues evil will bring about his own death”) and Ezekiel 18:4 (“The soul who sins will die”), coat it in a whole heap of God’s highest authority, and you potentially have someone who believes it’s okay to murder gay people. The commandment of “You shall not murder” is equally inexplicit and will do little to quell such extreme actions – they could still be justified as a form of moral warfare or capital punishment, depending on your interpretation.

Freedom of religion, along with the freedom to hold no religion at all, is a fundamental human right; as religion is personal and religious texts open to interpretation, it is my view that the state should be entirely secular; Government officials are there to serve an entire population, not a selected subset of that population, and therefore should only pass legislation on actual, rather than perceived, immorality.

Take, for example, the oft-reported case of a Christian-run bakery refusing to provide a cake celebrating a gay wedding on the grounds of their religious beliefs. While I believe it is their right to refuse service on what they regard as a moral issue (I’m sure their less-objective competitors agree), the right to refuse service cannot be a one-sided affair. Say, for example, the same Christian couple who ran the bakery went to a catering firm to provide food for a baby’s baptism, only for the caterer to refuse based on their belief that it is immoral for baptism to be forced upon a child by their parents. The couple would have no right to complain or cry discrimination if they enforce their right to moral objection in their own business.

Beliefs are not necessarily facts but, because the Bible lays down God’s authority, such beliefs do become considered as facts. To me, it appears as if you can interpret a few Bible verses a certain way and, just by holding up a copy of the Bible, get others to subscribe to your belief as if it was fact – much like this woman in Target did:

You never see someone holding a Bible aloft and yelling “Jesus tells us in John 13:34 to love one another without condition. I don’t care whether you’re black, white, male, female, gay, straight, cis, trans, Christian, Muslim, animal, vegetable or mineral – I LOVE YOU ALL!!!”.

I have absolutely nothing against anybody using their respective Holy texts to inspire positivity.

So if those were Jesus’ words, and Jesus is God incarnate, and God has absolute authority… why are Christians putting words into God’s mouth and not doing as he commands?

If you absolutely NEED something to hate: hate violence, injustice and ignorance.

The Story of the Modern-Day Samaritan

One widely-used quotation spread around the internet comes from Dr. Milton Diamond:

“nature loves diversity, society hates it”

I don’t think it’s as much society that hates diversity as the media, although the two do kind of go hand-in-hand.

You probably get the picture by now that I get a little worked up by people who feel it is their business to discriminate against others simply because they are different. It’s one of the main reasons why I don’t read any print media – without even touching a copy of one of the British Tabloid newspapers, I can see how they persistently poison us against “the enemy” – whether that be migrants, gay people, transgender people – anyone who is not “normal”; in other words, anyone who doesn’t conform to the profile of the majority.

Reality paints a rather different picture. Despite the publicity given to views not unlike those of ultra-conservative groups like Britain First or Westboro Baptist Church, their views are by no means mainstream. The UK’s more extreme political parties have no real power, and any open protests against such minority groups rarely come without a much larger counter-protest.

Britain First are, on the other hand, home to one of the biggest ironies in politics. In among their policies rallying against immigration and Islam (and the one ‘better support for the NHS’ policy that’s a complete no-brainer), you’ll find the one where they want to promote Christianity. I was a church-goer for several years, and studied the Bible in depth during that time, and I can honestly say that the Christian philosophy is almost diametrically-opposite to that of Britain First. I think the only reason Britain First actively promote Christianity is due to the widespread influence of Anglicanism and its historical origins in Britain.

I’d like to see how they explain away the parable of the Good Samaritan – a story of how the more “high-class” people in society neglected to help a man robbed and left at death’s door, yet it was the “low-class” Samaritan who stopped to help. It’s easily the strongest and most prolific anti-discrimination stories ever written.

Let’s put it in a modern context…

A man was walking down a quiet side-street on his way to work, when a gang of thugs grabbed him, threw him to the floor, kicked and stabbed him repeatedly. When they’d had their fun, they took his wallet, phone and anything else of value, and left the man bleeding to death on the street.

The first person to walk past was a Stockbroker. The man weakly turned his head to face the stockbroker and whispered “please help me”. Just then, the bell at the London Stock Exchange rang; the stockbroker simply replied “sorry – I’m needed somewhere else” and went on his way.

The second person to walk past was an MP. Again, the man turned to him and, in an agonised whisper, asked “please can you help me”. The MP asked him “where do you live?”; when the man told him, the MP replied “sorry, you’re not one of my constituents – I cannot help you” and walked off.

The third person to walk past was a clergyman. Surely a man of the cloth would help someone in need? Once again, the man turned and asked “please can you help me”. The clergyman looked at how beaten and bloodied the man was, and took pity. At that time, the bell at his church started ringing and the clergyman simply said “sorry – my congregation need me. You’ll be in my prayers!” before hurrying off.

The last person to walk past was a refugee from Syria. One last time, the man asked him if he could help. The Syrian didn’t understand English, but he could see how badly hurt he was. He called to his friend, and between them, they lifted the man up and carried him to the nearest hospital.

Outside the hospital, the junior doctors were calling another strike. The MP had been to see them just moments before to tell them about their new contracts, which would have them working longer hours for less pay. One of the doctors looked at the man and could see he was in immediate need of help. He threw down his placard and ushered the Syrians towards A&E where he would be waiting with his team. The junior doctor and his team cleaned and disinfected his wounds, and replaced the blood he lost. They took care of the fractures in his ribs and skull.

When the man was in a stable condition, they moved him on to the ward. A Polish nurse made sure all his dressings were clean, a Romanian lady from the kitchens brought him the food and drink he needed to regain his strength, and the Syrians who stopped to help him came to visit every day – the patient in the adjacent bed spoke fluent Arabic, and translated for them. The man expressed his eternal gratitude towards them for saving his life when nobody else would. A life-long friendship began that day.

Watching from a distance, a journalist witnessed the whole incident and wrote the whole story down. He told of how the Stockbroker, MP and Clergyman all passed him by. He told of how the Syrian refugees stopped to help him, and how the junior doctor abandoned his picket to help save that man’s life. When his story was complete, he went to see his editor. His editor read it, screwed it up into a ball, and threw it away. Shocked, the journalist asked “why did you just throw my story in the bin?!”. His editor swiveled his chair to face the journalist, put on a serious face and said…

“The owner of this newspaper netted a cool £20m thanks to that stockbroker, the MP is voting against further regulation of the press, and the vicar is a very respectable member of my country club. I can’t print anything that tarnishes their reputations.”

The journalist wasn’t impressed. “It’s never stopped you before. Go on… what’s the real reason?”. The editor returned a knowing smile and replied:

“We can’t have the plebs thinking refugees are good people. We don’t want to look like hypocrites, now do we?”

Transgender Children: They exist. Get over it.

I don’t know why, but whenever I view or read something online, I feel the desire to scroll down to the bottom of the page to read the comments. I’d been watching another TEDx video, one about a parent coming to terms with the unexpected revelation that their middle child, assigned male at birth, wanted to be a girl, and wondered what the public’s reaction would be towards it.

I’ve watched a number of these TEDx presentations, and they’ve all been pretty progressive on the topic of gender, validated by presenters who were speaking from experience rather than opinion. For the most part, the comments posted were positive or at least supportive, but there’s always the odd few that post a negative reaction. Whether they’re speaking from the heart or just engaging in trolling remains to be seen, but there were common threads running throughout.

They weren’t speaking from experience

Unless you’re the parent of a transgender child, comments are superficial at best. The same applies to me too as neither of my children are transgender as far as I’m aware, so I can’t speak from experience either. The difference is that I will happily listen to and learn from other people’s experiences rather than jump in and add my 2p worth of bigotry.

They believe it is their business to determine how another person raises their child

Again, the same applies to me too – it’s none of my business either – but if you’re willing to give unsolicited parenting advice to complete strangers, you should be willing to accept advice from them in return; given that neither parent would act on the other’s advice, it’s just a complete waste of bandwidth. Besides, all children are unique and a parenting style that works for one child would not necessarily work with another.

They won’t leave the Bible out of this

There’s always the one über-Flanders type who dusts off their Bible and starts quoting cherry-picked verses out of context as a means to accuse parents of raising an ‘abomination’. Speaking as someone who has done his fair share of Bible study, I’d like to point out that Jesus had no real interest in the so-called “holy people”, preferring to reach out to those marginalized by society: tax collectors, lepers, women and so on. Based on that information, if Jesus came back tomorrow, would he be more likely to (a) visit a conservative church and give them all the thumbs up for enforcing conformity to Old Testament laws, or (b) visit a transgender child and tell them that, despite the teasing and bullying they receive, they are very much loved?

They’re ignorant of history (but they’ll try to prove otherwise)

“You never heard about Transgenderism until recently, which must make it a relatively new thing. There are no examples throughout history, so it must be some kind of modern (mental illness/liberal lunacy/Satanic work)*”

I always find this kind of talk rather amusing since it ignores the very meaning of recorded history. A lack of historical evidence supporting Transgenderism does not implicitly mean that it didn’t exist in previous centuries – gender dysphoria was neither as widely-reported as it is in this internet age, nor as widely-understood. It’s equally plausible that those who did experience gender dysphoria back then suffered in silence.

*Delete as applicable

Let’s say, for example, that one of these YouTube pundits finds themselves in the same room as a transgender child. What is the worst that’s going to happen to them? The risks are exactly the same whether the child is trans- or cis-gender: you may be subjected to a conversation about Pokémon or One Direction. Why? Because children are children. End of.

Ultimately, such comments are prejudiced, plain and simple; and there is no excuse for prejudice. My nan was quite conservative in many ways, but quite liberal in others. As a religious person, she was always conscious of the parable of the Good Samaritan and what it says about holding prejudices. When you’re in a life-or-death situation and somebody is standing in the middle, you’re not going to refuse their help on something as trivial as their sex, gender, race, religion or nationality.

I’m going to Hell in a kilt… apparently!

Sauntering around the internet yesterday afternoon, I did a Google search for “utility kilt opinion” looking for more information about how kilts are commonly perceived. One page contained a plethora of links to kilt-related sites all over the web, including one link under the heading of “Stupidity”. The link took me to a page boldly stating that “Wearing Kilts is sinful” hosted on a site called “Divided by Truth”.

The site appears to be a source of ultra-conservative Christian sermons, and on this one in particular, they use cherry-picked bible verses to emphasise their point that Man + Kilt = Cross-dresser = Abomination = Sinful. I didn’t know whether to laugh, or cry tears of laughter.

Allow me to pick several bits of it apart.

“Although 1st Corinthians 6:9 is clearly condemning homosexuality and cross-dressing, it is also equally clear that any form of femininity in a man is sinful.”

Right off the bat, they’re citing Paul’s first epistle to the church in Corinth. Last time I looked, we weren’t in Corinth, therefore we’re reading too much into a letter that wasn’t written to us. Paul was addressing a culture that, at the time, saw misogyny as virtuous and women as property with virtually no social status whatsoever. They were pretty, powerless, and their main duty was to bear children. That bears no resemblance at all to today’s culture. Moving on…

“This is why Deuteronomy 22:5 condemns men wearing women’s apparel. Clearly, it is not acceptable for men to wear women’s clothing.”

Except a Kilt isn’t women’s clothing… it’s been classed as Menswear since at least the 16th Century.

“Men are to be men! Men should talk like men, dress like men, walk like men, and act like men. Kilts on men are sissyish. Although a man wearing a kilt may be tough, the skirt makes him look silly and foolish.”

Now we’re getting somewhere. We’re no longer dealing in facts, but opinions. We’ve now learned that the author doesn’t like them, and is now trawling the Bible to back up his opinion with authority. More on that later.

“Although most men who wear kilts aren’t gay, it makes one wonder why any man would ever want to wear clothing that is considered women’s apparel by 99% of the population. A quick look at any bathroom door will quickly reveal that men wear pants, and women wear dresses.”

If you’re going to make a statement that says “99% of the population think Kilts are women’s apparel”, at least conduct a survey to back it up. I mean a proper, independent survey with a wide and representative selectorate – not just 100 random people from your Church where just one can actually point to Scotland on a map.

A look at the bathroom door will reveal that men wear trousers and women wear skirts/dresses, that much is true… but the bathroom door does not imply that they do so exclusively. And let’s not get into the whole gender/bathroom thing – it’s a sensitive issue for some people, and I have my own views on the subject. Let’s just say I’m in favour of gender-neutral bathrooms under certain conditions.


“John the Baptist was rugged, as a man should be. The men who lived in the palace wore “soft” clothing, i.e., they didn’t look or act like REAL MEN. I’ve never seen a construction worker wearing a kilt. I’ve never seen a truck mechanic or a coal miner wearing a kilt. I only see men with clean jobs, or playing bagpipes, wearing kilts. Kilts are for men in the palace, not for John the Baptist type men … real men!”

Okay, Mr. Stewart: there’s your foot, here’s a gun – fire away! So, in order to be a “real man”, you must have some rugged, manual profession and come home covered in oil and dirt? What exactly do you wear to church? Do you go dressed modestly in your best, clean clothes… or do turn up covered in camel hair and body odour, just like John the Baptist? I know I’m making an assumption based on the ultra-conservative Churches I’m aware of (including Westboro), but everyone there – including the pastor – is very suited-and-booted. Besides, just because you’ve never seen a mechanic in a kilt doesn’t mean that none exist. If we’re really going down the road of “seeing is believing”, exactly how many times have you seen God? I’m not talking about “his creation” either – I mean Big G himself.

“Clearly, men in the Old Testament didn’t wear the type of skirts or kilts, which some uncouth (lacking refinement or cultivation or taste) men wear today. There’s just something uncouth about a man wearing a kilt!”

Men in the Old Testament didn’t publish content to the Internet either, yet here you are. Yet, rather than take offence at being called “uncouth”, I’m willing to accept that. All I ask in return is for you to preach this at half-time during an Old Firm derby. Rangers are back in the Premiership, so now’s as good a time as any! A tenner says you’ll either walk out in a Wallace tartan kilt, or be carried out on a stretcher; but you’ll at least have united the Rangers and Celtic fans (albeit temporarily).

“Women in the Old Testament also wore robes with skirts; but they were more feminine, cut differently, and made with more feminine materials. Clothing which was transparent, tight fitting, loosely worn, or exposed intimate parts of the body were considered the ATTIRE OF A HARLOT (Proverb 7:10).”

We conclude the page with the indication that Mr. Stewart is completely ignorant to how Kilts are made, or what they’re for. Real Kilts are made of thick, heavy wool – not exactly light and transparent material. In fact, my Utility Kilts are made from heavier material to several pairs of trousers that I own. One of them has metal studs, the other has leather straps. It’s hardly Stevie Nicks, is it? While they can be considered “loosely worn”, the whole point of a Kilt being pleated is that it hangs vertically whilst also permitting maximum freedom of movement. After all, they were meant to be worked in and even fought in. They’re designed to be practical and durable rather than pretty, and they doesn’t expose any “intimate parts of the body” either because, even if you do go full-Scotsman, the sheer weight of the fabric prevents the wind from blowing it any higher than your upper thigh. That’s only an issue for the seriously well-endowed!

Before you mention women’s ability to wear trousers, I must point out that the men got off very lightly. The website has a whole page crammed with information for women. Particularly, about their role in the home, how women preachers are ignorant of scripture, and why they shouldn’t wear trousers. The latter is several times longer, and filled with far more cherry-picked verses, than the Kilt article I dissected above. They even deride feminism and gender equality as the work of Satan – now, I’m not very easily offended, but the statement that “No man wants to be married to a Mack Truck” was pretty damn offensive to me. We may appear so in magazines or on TV, but most men are not shallow. simple-minded sacks of walking libido.

I know I’m approaching this with my rather liberal-minded head on, but I found it rather ironic that this website, hosted in the “land of the free” and advocates its first amendment right to free speech on the homepage, seeks to control said freedom using “Fear of God” tactics to hammer down the authority their “godliness” apparently gives them. Such patriarchal mind-control was one of the reasons I turned my back on Christianity a few years ago.

As the late Bill Hicks once put it: “You are free… to do as we tell you!”

Mantyhose: A brief aside…

Whilst researching material for my previous post, I often found that one avenue of research forked into two more, and so and so forth. The further down I went, the more the topic expanded into one of individual liberties and style.

MantyHose-StraightFromTheA-17Two articles (here and here) I found regarding the rising “mantyhose” (tights/pantyhose designed for men) trend came from the website of the Daily Mail, a British tabloid newspaper with a rather conservative editorial style. I’ve skimmed through a few editions of the paper when visiting my parents and, if you ignored the sports pages and some of the more magazine-y bits in the middle, you’d think that the world as we know it was going to end tomorrow. In a nut-shell: tradition, stability and security = good; progress, change and modernisation = bad. I was curious as to how their readers would react to such a thing.

There were a minority of comments that were supportive, but most of those came from people who are already devotees of the mantyhose trend. Some found the whole thing ridiculous, some found it a joke but, most interestingly, some took it to the next level and declared that metro-sexuality in general was a sign that men have been progressively emasculated by liberals.

aec2a1c0870e27cee14e953ea11dc034Before I carry on with the greater topic, I would like to explain where I stand on that last point as it kind of introduces a recurring theme that will run throughout. Given that conservatively-minded people generally regard bravery, confidence and security as virtuous, it is quite ironic that wearing mantyhose would be considered unmanly and weak when it actually takes a considerable amount of bravery, self-confidence and security to actually wear them in public. Show me a man wearing mantyhose, and I will show you a man with few, if any, insecurities.

It’s not emasculation… it’s emancipation!