Emma Watson: Men need to join the fight for gender inequality

Emma Watson - UN

Emma Watson has become a remarkable young woman — she’s even been appointed a U.N. ambassador. Several times during this speech to the U.N., I found myself applauding at my computer. And, at 7 minutes in, she cordially invites men to join the fight for gender equality. It’s our fight too.

Take the 13 minutes to watch the whole of this speech – it’s incredibly powerful.

Benefits Street programme sequel to be filmed in Southampton

Benefits_Street

Makers of the controversial Benefits Street documentary are planning a sequel in Southampton.  Love Productions has approached residents in Derby Road, St Mary’s, for the new show that will be called Immigration Street and will focus on the area’s diverse communities.

Harjap Singh, chairman of Sikh Council Hampshire and Southampton Gurdwara Council, said the organisations have raised concerns over the programme.  He said:

“We are against it because it would be pretty bad for community relations.  The Vaisakhi celebrations looks to bring communities together but it seems the programme makers could put certain sections of the community against each other.  A few people I have spoken to have raised concerns and have asked to make sure this doesn’t happen.”

David Bane, secretary of the Southampton Council of Faiths, said the organisation was “cautious”:

“The council of faiths had a meeting last Tuesday and there’s mixed feeling about it.  We don’t have control over what the programme comes out like.  The Southampton Council of Faiths is nearly 19 years old and we have worked very hard to link communities and keep the trust and peace.  Southampton has a history of immigration. We have had people come to this city for years and I think in a way majority of people see it as a real added value to the community – we have around 47 languages spoken here.  We need to be careful.”

However Khalid Farooq, of the Derby Road-based Pakistan Welfare Association said it was an opportunity to show how multi-cultural Derby Road is.  He said:

“I think it’s good. It shows the multi-cultural environment of people living in Derby Road.  They should show a positive aspect of the community.  I think there needs to be more support and show how hard working people are here.”

Cllr Stephen Barnes-Andrew, deputy leader of Southampton City Council and cabinet member for resources, represents the Bevois ward.  He said:

“It is difficult because your whole experience of the programme is sensationalised from James Turner Street in Birmingham and it turned out the whole programme was stage managed.  They have had meetings with council officers on one occasion and said they will try to do a balanced programme.  My view is that on balance looking at previous production it will not be in the interests of people in Southampton as I fear they will be turning to portray a certain angle on the downside of immigration.”

Southampton Test MP Alan Whitehead, who represents the area, has spoken of his concern.  He said he was worried that the programme would follow a script rather than tell the truth and reflect the community accurately.  He said:

“Some programmes can be a tremendous fillip and bonus in getting across to the public what the real issues are. I don’t think the company in this instance has a track record to do that.”

Supermarket bans sweets at the checkout

supermarket sweets

The Guardian has reported that Lidl has banned sweets and chocolate bars from the checkout at all 600 of its UK stores after surveying parents about the “pester power” of their children:

The discount supermarket said racks of sweets had been replaced with dried and fresh fruit, oatcakes and juices, following a trial of these healthier options at checkouts last year.

Lidl customer research showed that seven out of 10 customers would choose a sweet-free checkout over the traditional one laden with chocolate bars. In a survey for the supermarket, 68% of parents said they were pestered by their children for chocolate at the checkout, and 66% gave in some or all of the time.

One in six parents told the supermarket they spend £20-40 a month on supermarket snacks, while a similar number said they had used the offer of a “treat” as a reward for good behaviour during the shopping trip.

The supermarket claims it is the first UK supermarket to have removed sweets from all its checkouts. Although Tesco and Sainsbury’s have removed sweets from counters at their larger outlets, they continue to be sold at the checkouts in convenience stores.

Ronny Gottschlich, managing director, Lidl UK, said: “We know how difficult it can be to say no to pester power, so by removing sweets and chocolates from our tills we can make it easier for parents to reward children in healthier ways.”

The ban comes after a National Obesity Forum report showed that previous estimates that half the UK population will be obese by 2050 had understated the problem.

Katharine Jenner at Action on Sugar said campaigners were pleased with Lidl’s decision. “It is an acknowledgement from the retailers that these products are not healthy,” she said, but added: “It is one thing to put people off buying, it is another to make products healthier.”

Shop uses mannequins modelled on the bodies of disabled people

Shop uses mannequins modelled on the bodies of disabled people

A fashion mannequin has an implicit message: this form is beautiful.  If your own body doesn’t look like that form—not even remotely—then you may not feel that way about yourself.

The Swiss charity Pro Infirmis helps people with disabilities. To remind them that they are beautiful, too, they commissioned mannequins modelled on the bodies of four people with disabilities. The video below shows the process. Craftsmen measured the bodies of the models, then reshaped mannequins to fit those specifications.

After finishing construction, Pro Infirmis placed those mannequins, now dressed in fashionable clothing, in a storefront in Zurich. Watch the responses of the models and passersby.

 

What does Joey Essex teach us about Christmas

National Television Awards - Red Carpet Arrivals

Heat Magazine: Will you put a nativity scene under the tree?
Joey Essex: What does that mean?
Heat: You know what a nativity scene is, surely…
Joey: An activity screen? Is it a box you put presents in
Heat: You know, when Jesus was born…
Joey: Oh! The hay round the bottom of the Christmas tree!
Heat: His mum and dad, Mary and Joseph…
Joey: They put him in a cot?
Heat: A crib…
Joey: Like a house? What was that song they used to sing? :Bursts into song “Baby Jesus! Bethlehem! And he used to sit in a little barn?” That was a sick song. I really want to start going to church.
Heat: And the three wise men brought him gold, frankincense and myrh…
Joey: [incredulous] How do you know all of this…

Krish has more on how modern society understands (if at all) what Christmas is about. Here’s the original interview.

UK Teens ‘Tempted’ By Glamorous Cigarette Packaging

Silk Cut

Cancer Research UK study reveals for the first time that glitzy and glamorous cigarette packaging makes children susceptible to smoking — tempting them in to a habit that kills. The research is published in the journal BMJ Open.

The results are further proof that the UK government’s decision not to protect children from the tobacco industry’s marketing practices risks harming the UK’s public health legacy. The government claims it wishes to wait and see the impact of similar moves in Australia – where the weight of evidence led to the introduction of standardized packaging last year.

During this delay the tobacco industry is reaping the benefits of slickly designed packs that help to recruit new smokers. Nearly 570 children under-16 start smoking in the UK every day.

In the new study, researchers at the University of Stirling examined the reactions of 1,025 UK children aged 11-16 who had never tried smoking. They were given three different types of cigarette packs: regular, novelty and standardized packs. Novelty packs were those with an unusual shape, color or system of opening, and included a slim “perfume” type pack and a pack in the shape of a giant lighter. Standardized packs were brown packs of a uniform shape with all branding removed apart from a brand name.

Children preferred the colorful and novelty packs – such as Silk Cut Superslim’s elegant and feminine slim pack shape, Marlborough Bright Leaf’s Zippo style flip-top opening and Pall Mall’s bright pink pack.

Alarmingly children who liked these packs were the same children who said they were more tempted to smoke – for example those receptive to the Silk Cut pack were over four times more likely to be susceptible to smoking than those who were not receptive to this pack.

In contrast plain, standardized packaging reduced the appeal of smoking to the children.

Miley Cyrus hits back at Sinead O’Connor

m4s0n501

Yesterday I wrote about how Sinead O’Connor had written an open letter to Miley Cyrus.  Miley Cyrus fired back at “Nothing Compares 2U” singer Sinéad O’Connor on Twitter after O’Connor penned a lengthy and motherly open letter to the provocative 20-year-old.

In the letter, O’Connor claimed that Cyrus is being “prostituted” by the music industry and predicted the former Hannah Montana star would eventually land in rehab.  Sadly Cyrus didn’t take kindly to the advice. She responded with a tweet that poked fun at O’Connor’s 2011 brush with mental health issues. The tweet says, “Before Amanda Bynes…. There was….” and links to O’Connor’s old tweets.

Miley Cyrus tweets

Cyrus followed up that tweet with a photo of O’Connor’s memorable moment in which she tore up a photo of Pope John Paul II:

Sinead O'Connor Pope

Not one to back down, O’Connor responded to Cyrus’ tweets in a Facebook post (sadly again full of strong language):

Miley… Really? Who the fuck is advising you? Because taking me on is even more fuckin’ stupid than behaving like a prostitute and calling it feminism. You have posted today tweets of mine which are two years old, which were posted by me when I was unwell and seeking help so as to make them look like they are recent. In doing so you mock myself and Amanda Bynes for having suffered with mental health issues and for having sought help. I mean really really… who advises you? have you any idea how stupid and dangerous it is to mock people for suffering illness? You will yourself one day suffer such illness, that is without doubt. The course you have set yourself upon can only end in that, trust me. I am staggered that any 20 yr old woman of the 21st century could behave in such a dangerous and irresponsible manner as to not only send the signal to young women that its ok to act like prostitutes but also to the signal that those who have suffered or do suffer mental health problems are to be mocked and have their opinions invalidated. Have you no sense of danger at all? or responsibility? Remove your tweets immediately or you will hear from my lawyers. I am certain you will be hearing from all manner of mental health advocacy groups also. It is not acceptable to mock any person for having suffered. It is most unbecoming of you to respond in such a fashion to someone who expressed care for you. And worse that you are such an anti-female tool of the anti-female music industry. I hope that you will apologise to Amanda Bynes and to any person who has been wounded by your mockery of those who have suffered. And I hope that you will wake up and understand that you in fact are a danger to women. Furthermore you posted a photo of me tearing the pope’s photo .. as if to imply insanity.. by doing so all you have achieved is to expose your staggering ignorance. I suggest you read The Philadelphia Report, The Boston Report, all the reports which will illuminate for you why that action of mine remains sane and valid. By mocking it you mock every child who suffered sexual abuse at the hands of priests and had it covered by the Vatican. You could really do with educating yourself, that is if you’re not too busy getting your tits out to read.

O’Connor continued the conversation in another Facebook post, mentioning legal action:

Ms Cyrus has today posted tweets of mine which are two years old and which were sent when I was ill and seeking medical help. She has done this in an attempt to deliberately cause me harm and hurt. I wish to confirm that I am quite well and kindly request people cease e mailing me in the mistaken belief these are recent tweets. Ms Cyrus’ lawyers will be contacted by mine regarding this matter. I confirm also that I do not at all support or condone the abuse or mockery of those who have been brave enough to openly discuss mental health issues. Mockery causes deaths. Period. It is an unacceptable form of bullying, no matter who it is doing the bullying.

Sinéad O’Connor’s open letter to Miley Cyrus

Sinead O'Connor

After the 20-year-old claimed that Wrecking Ball’s controversial video was inspired by Nothing Compares 2 U, the Irish singer was compelled to warn Cyrus that she is being ‘pimped’ by the pop industry. This is the full text of O’Connor’s blogpost, (some of the language is colourful to say the least):

Dear Miley,

I wasn’t going to write this letter, but today i’ve been dodging phone calls from various newspapers who wished me to remark upon your having said in Rolling Stone your Wrecking Ball video was designed to be similar to the one for Nothing Compares … So this is what I need to say … And it is said in the spirit of motherliness and with love.

I am extremely concerned for you that those around you have led you to believe, or encouraged you in your own belief, that it is in any way ‘cool’ to be naked and licking sledgehammers in your videos. It is in fact the case that you will obscure your talent by allowing yourself to be pimped, whether its the music business or yourself doing the pimping.

Nothing but harm will come in the long run, from allowing yourself to be exploited, and it is absolutely NOT in ANY way an empowerment of yourself or any other young women, for you to send across the message that you are to be valued (even by you) more for your sexual appeal than your obvious talent.
I am happy to hear I am somewhat of a role model for you and I hope that because of that you will pay close attention to what I am telling you.

The music business doesn’t give a shit about you, or any of us. They will prostitute you for all you are worth, and cleverly make you think its what YOU wanted … and when you end up in rehab as a result of being prostituted, ‘they’ will be sunning themselves on their yachts in Antigua, which they bought by selling your body and you will find yourself very alone.

None of the men ogling you give a shit about you either, do not be fooled. Many’s the woman mistook lust for love. If they want you sexually that doesn’t mean they give a fuck about you. All the more true when you unwittingly give the impression you don’t give much of a fuck about yourself. And when you employ people who give the impression they don’t give much of a fuck about you either. No one who cares about you could support your being pimped … and that includes you yourself.

Yes, I’m suggesting you don’t care for yourself. That has to change. You ought be protected as a precious young lady by anyone in your employ and anyone around you, including you. This is a dangerous world. We don’t encourage our daughters to walk around naked in it because it makes them prey for animals and less than animals, a distressing majority of whom work in the music industry and it’s associated media.

You are worth more than your body or your sexual appeal. The world of showbiz doesn’t see things that way, they like things to be seen the other way, whether they are magazines who want you on their cover, or whatever … Don’t be under any illusions … ALL of them want you because they’re making money off your youth and your beauty … which they could not do except for the fact your youth makes you blind to the evils of show business. If you have an innocent heart you can’t recognise those who do not.

I repeat, you have enough talent that you don’t need to let the music business make a prostitute of you. You shouldn’t let them make a fool of you either. Don’t think for a moment that any of them give a flying fuck about you. They’re there for the money… we’re there for the music. It has always been that way and it will always be that way. The sooner a young lady gets to know that, the sooner she can be REALLY in control.

You also said in Rolling Stone that your look is based on mine. The look I chose, I chose on purpose at a time when my record company were encouraging me to do what you have done. I felt I would rather be judged on my talent and not my looks. I am happy that I made that choice, not least because I do not find myself on the proverbial rag heap now that I am almost 47 yrs of age … which unfortunately many female artists who have based their image around their sexuality, end up on when they reach middle age.

Real empowerment of yourself as a woman would be to in future refuse to exploit your body or your sexuality in order for men to make money from you. I needn’t even ask the question … I’ve been in the business long enough to know that men are making more money than you are from you getting naked. Its really not at all cool. And its sending dangerous signals to other young women. Please in future say no when you are asked to prostitute yourself. Your body is for you and your boyfriend. It isn’t for every spunk-spewing dirtbag on the net, or every greedy record company executive to buy his mistresses diamonds with.

As for the shedding of the Hannah Montana image … whoever is telling you getting naked is the way to do that does absolutely NOT respect your talent, or you as a young lady. Your records are good enough for you not to need any shedding of Hannah Montana. She’s waaaaaaay gone by now … Not because you got naked but because you make great records.

Whether we like it or not, us females in the industry are role models and as such we have to be extremely careful what messages we send to other women. The message you keep sending is that its somehow cool to be prostituted … its so not cool Miley … its dangerous. Women are to be valued for so much more than their sexuality. We aren’t merely objects of desire. I would be encouraging you to send healthier messages to your peers … that they and you are worth more than what is currently going on in your career. Kindly fire any motherfucker who hasn’t expressed alarm, because they don’t care about you.

As posted on www.sineadoconnor.com

Of course from a Christian perspective it doesn’t go far enough, we would want to say something of the reality of who we are, but culturally this letter is huge in challenging the music industry and society in their “treatment” of young women.  It’s tragic but Sinéad is exactly right.  The music industry is laughing all the way to the bank.

Economist: A McDonald’s burger is the cheapest, most nutritious food in human history

Burger

When starvation, rather than obesity, is your problem, then McDonald’s has the solution. Economist Stephen Dubner, one of the authors of Freakanomics, argues that the McDonald’s McDouble (pictured above) is the most nutritious food ever devised:

Stephen Dubner, who co-authored the best-selling book, hosted a debate on his blog after a reader suggested the McDouble packed a better nutritional punch for the penny than is often assumed.

The double cheeseburger provides 390 calories, 23 grams of protein – half a daily serving – seven per cent of daily fibre, 19 grams of fat and 20 per cent of daily calcium, all for between $1 and $2, or 65p and £1.30,The Times reported. [...]

Mr Dubner added: “The more I thought about the question, whether the McDouble is the cheapest, most bountiful, and nutritious food ever, the more I realised how you answer that question says a lot about how you see the world, not only our food system and the economics of it, but even social justice.”

Go check out the full story from The Daily Telegraph.

Impulsive teenagers more prone to heavy drinking

drinking-drunk

An interesting article on research from the University of Liverpool that has shown that young people who show more impulsive tendencies are more prone to drinking heavily at an early age:

The research suggests that targeting personality traits, such as impulsivity, could potentially be a successful intervention in preventing adolescent drinking from developing into problems with alcohol in later life.

Studies in the UK show that approximately 24% of 12 year olds have reported at least one episode of alcohol consumption, rising to 77% of 15 year olds.

Previous research has suggested that impulsive behaviour is linked with adolescent drinking, but it is unclear whether young people who are impulsive tend to drink more, or whether drinking whilst the brain is still developing is particularly harmful and can lead to the progression of impulsive behaviours.

The team used computer tests that measured inhibitory control, the ability to delay gratification, and risk-taking. More than 280 young people who were aged 12 or 13 at the beginning of the study took part in the study. The participants repeated the computer tests every six months over the two years of the study.

Results showed that those participants who were more impulsive in the tests went on to drink more heavily or have problems with alcohol at a later time. The study did not, however, show that alcohol consumption led to increased impulsive behaviour on the computer tests. This suggests that there is a link between impulsivity and adolescent drinking, but that alcohol may not necessarily lead to increased impulsive behaviour in the short-term.

Professor Matt Field, from the University’s Institute of Psychology Health and Society, explains: “Young people in the UK are starting to drink alcohol at a younger age than in the past, and much of this reflects broad social trends. There are, however, significant differences in the age at which teenagers start to experiment with alcohol and the age at which they start drinking regularly.”

“It is important to identify the psychological characteristics of adolescents who are likely to go on to drink heavily, because this can help us target alcohol prevention more effectively. In addition, we need to identify the consequences of heavy drinking during adolescence for health in general, and brain development in particular.”

“Our results show that more impulsive individuals are more likely to start drinking heavily in the future compared to less impulsive individuals. The next steps are to take these results and apply them to prevention interventions that are tailored to individual characteristics, such as impulsivity.”

“We also need to conduct studies where we follow-up young people for longer than the two years that we did in the present study. This will help us to understand whether heavy drinking over a longer period during adolescence has an impact on impulsive behaviour.”

30 Ways to Bless Your Workplace

Josh Reeves writes a great post on how to engage with people in your workplace:

A few weeks ago I posted some very practical ideas for engaging your neighborhood with the Gospel. To follow that up I have compiled 30 ideas for engaging people in your workplace. The workplace is an everyday context where many people spend the majority of their time. It is important for us to know what it looks like to bring gospel intentionality to our jobs. Hopefully this will help spark a few ideas for connecting with and blessing your coworkers.

1. Instead of eating lunch alone, intentionally eat with other co-workers and learn their story.

2. Get to work early so you can spend some time praying for your co-workers and the day ahead.

3. Make it a daily priority to speak or write encouragement when someone does good work.

4. Bring extra snacks when you make your lunch to give away to others.

5. Bring breakfast (donuts, burritos, cereal, etc.) once a month for everyone in your department.

6. Organize a running/walking group in the before or after work.

7. Have your missional community/small group bring lunch to your workplace once a month.

8. Create a regular time to invite coworkers over or out for drinks.

9. Make a list of your co-workers birthdays and find a way to bless everyone on their birthday.

10. Organize and throw office parties as appropriate to your job.

11. Make every effort to avoid gossip in the office. Be a voice of thanksgiving not complaining.

Check out the whole thing.