Wednesday, 27 August 2014

What is victim blaming

   The news here in the UK is full of a child abuse scandal, this time in Rotherham. A nasty case involving the grooming of a staggering number of young people that was ignored by police and social services for a variety of reasons. Heads have rolled in high places, and I hope that dusty case files will be pulled out of storage and abusers will go down for a very long time. If they can chase up 1960s celebrities in their dotage they can chase up a gang of Asians in a Northern town.
    This morning on the BBC's flagship radio news programme they interviewed one of the victims. Now in her mid twenties, she gave an eloquent and forthright description of the abuse and of the complete lack of action from the authorities when they were alerted.
    The interviewer asked her if there was anything she could have done to prevent the abuse. This prompted a storm of criticism on social media accusing him of victim blaming.

    I have to say, in this case I didn't agree with them.

    There will be enough victim blamers out there, that is certain. She was a whore, she allowed it to happen, she dressed provocatively, she allowed herself to be plied with alcohol, we've heard it all before and it's particularly reprehensible.
    Victim blamer arguments need addressing, and closing down. And the best way to do that is to ask the question of someone capable of answering it. What I heard was a robust interviewee being given exactly that opportunity, and a veteran journalist doing his job of dealing with the issue head on. The result was a particularly moving and effective piece of radio that should leave listeners in no doubt as to the magnitude of the crime or the seriousness of the lack of official response.

    It is important to tackle victim blaming wherever it appears. It does no victim any favours though to cry wolf when somebody else is very effectively dealing with the issue by giving a victim the opportunity to speak for themself.

Friday, 22 August 2014


    I want to go back to bed. A general statement, as I'm typing this sitting in bed having had a lazy breakfast. But it's true, right now I'd prefer to spend my day in bed rather than go into work and do stuff with bits of software.
    Truth is, I've lost my mojo over the last year. The combination of a series of stressful events and the side-effects of hefty antidepressants. I have the feeling of needing a month off, something that is sadly not practical.
    You might think transition would have caused this, but surprisingly that's the part that's worked. Despite everything I have none of the crushing regret I had as the scruffy bloke, of not being female. Yes. Transition works, at least in that sense.
    As has been the case in the past, my mind seeks a release in engineering. Making stuff. I wrote a post about dressmaking a while back but that's just one of the avenues at my disposal. Which is in itself dangerous, as a former dotcommer I know the perils of startup business so idly working out how I'd conquer the Internet of Things or spot financial trends through news corpus analysis rather than pursuing an unexciting career in publishing is folly.
    So despite all that I'm not going to stay in bed. Get up, face the day. It's a Bank Holiday weekend coming up here in the UK, so maybe three days away will help.

Monday, 4 August 2014

I'm sure that everybody knows...

I'm sure that everybody knows how much my body hates me
It lets me down most every time and makes me rash and hasty

    When I was an earnest young sound and light engineer, that Billy Bragg song was a standard of the student cover bands. Probably because Billy does not have the voice of an angel so is easy to copy, and his politics fitted very well in the left-wing ideology of an early '90s student union. You may recognise the red-haired backing singer.
    For some reason the song was my earworm the other day, driving up to a east Midlands town to see some friends. Not just any friends, the lesbian couple I am helping to start a family. Too Much Information, or what!
    Plotting a traffic free route round the hell of Northampton, going up the A5. An 18th century superhighway laid out for the fastest stagecoaches of the day by Thomas Telford, and now almost empty since the motorway has taken all its traffic. Oddly parched July vegetation against a summer rainstorm. A favourite road of mine, all fast sweeping bends.
    It's odd, seemingly being a free agent. Three months since my wife and I moved apart. Still good relations between us and I wish she'd come back, but it isn't going to happen.
    A lot of regrets, but what can you do in a no-win situation? I am very glad we tried, I think it has had the odd effect of making our current relationship much stronger than it might be.
    So, off on holiday with my friend R. We're going to sit on a beach facing the North Sea for a week and do nothing. Nada. Sod all. Which is a lot nicer than you might imagine, we've picked a very nice North Sea beach. We've both had a very hard time of late, her with family and me with work, this is essential recuperation.
    Where now then? When we return from Norfolk life will go on. Same stresses at work, still on my own. Part of me would jack it all in and move on. Move out of the flat, move in with my dad and settle into the life of a rural freelance geek. As any former dotcommer does I have a pile of startup ideas in my slightly specialist line, I certainly wouldn't be idle.
    But that would be failure. One doesn't deal with a hard time by running away, one deals with it by engagement. So on to the next step in the ghastly charade, until we reach the level at which it all has to be taken seriously. It comes back to being a dotcommer, forged in the hard world of collapsing startups I'm uniquely unafraid of adversity. Whatever is thrown at me, I've seen worse.
    Which isn't the best note for a blog post, but there you go. Back to Billy Bragg again for a final word:

But it all amounts to nothing if together we don't stand