Women’s Hour

If you’re not based in the UK, and/or not a listener of BBC Radio 4, there’s a pretty good chance you’re not familiar with a magazine show called Women’s Hour. As you might guess, it’s raison d’être is discussing women’s issues.

I don’t usually listen to it, but once in a while I stumble across it and pay attention to what’s being discussed. This week was one such occasion and a couple of items specifically caught my attention. Revenge porn and FGM. (Hear the show here.)

Item 2: Revenge porn

The show opened with an interview with a woman in America who, whilst at college, shared intimate photos and video with her boyfriend when their relationship became a long distance relationship. Ultimately they separated due to the usual stresses of a long distance relationship, though seemingly amicably. But subsequently the woman’s account on social networking site was hacked and the naked pictures she had sent to her former boyfriend appeared on her profile. This continued over a period of time, with the suspicion that this was a revenge attack by the ex-boyfriend. Although he strenuously denies involvement. At the time of broadcast, legal proceedings were continuing.

I found the story interesting for several reasons.

Unusually there was no condemnation of those who choose to share pornographic photos and videos of themselves. Which pleased me greatly, because despite being a porn loving perv, I can dispassionately say I see nothing wrong with this at all: it is perfectly normal for people to be aroused at the sight of their partner naked, and to openly enjoy each others sexuality in this way. It is also perfectly normal to feel sexual desires for one’s partner when separated from them. These things make up a healthy sexual relationship. And with the sharing of photographs discretely being so easy, there really should be no issue with consenting couples exchanging sexually explicit photos and videos.

Secondly, I came to discover my love of amateur porn through a revenge porn website. In my defense, I was not looking for revenge porn, nor did I get off on the knowledge of the revenge aspect. I just loved seeing naked pictures that ordinary people, not porn stars, had willingly had taken of themselves. That said, I never really thought through the implications of what I was jerking off to, and as such was effectively condoning the act of revenge. (Thankfully I graduated onto what is always billed as consensually shared amateur porn.)

Thirdly, I am responsible for publishing a naked picture of my ex-girlfriend on the internet. Indeed on this blog. But this was by no means revenge. I think she looks damned hot int the picture: it reminds me of the fantastic sex we had (far better than I’ve ever had in my marriage), and I would in no way wish anything ill to come of my mis-use of the image. I have also been very careful to not provide any details about her identity, and only someone with an extremely intimate knowledge of her body would be able to identify her from the photo, But hearing about revenge porn and the impact it can have on people, I am seriously considering removing it.

Item 2: FGM

The second item on the show was an interview with Justine Greening MP on her return from visiting Syrian refugees in Lebanon. Part way through the interview, the conversation abruptly switched topic:
Jane Garvey (interviewer) : DFID has spent over £30M trying to take on FGM overseas, but in this country we know there hasn’t been a single prosecution for it, although it is, of course, illegal. Are you disappointed by that?
Justine Greening MP : I think one of the things we’ve seen is that, you’re right, we have tried to raise this whole issue of FGM. It was something that people didn’t really talk about, pretty much, in the past.
Jane Garvey : We should make it clear it’s Femal Genital Mutilation we’re talking about and it is the so called cutting season at the momentnt, isn’t it, which is horible expression but, nevertheless that’s what it’s called.
… a little more discussion and then …
Jane Garvey : … targetted screaming. I sense a certain squeamishness about that …

Woah there, just a minute? You sense a certain squeamishness? The interviewer opened the topic by refering to female circumcision (as it is also known) with an acronym. Then the interviewee carried on by using it. And only then did the interviewer interject with an explanation of what FGM actually stands for. For fuck sakes! Yes, you should damn well make it clear what you’re talking about.

1. It’s just sloppy journalism to assume your audience knows what FGM stands for. (Although I am aware of the issue and the increased media coverage it has received recently, I for one couldn’t think what the hell they were talking about.)
2. Using an acronym sanitises the subject. It allows us to talk about it and not feel quite so bad about it. That’s utter bollocks (and I am aware of the irony of using profanity related to male genitalia). This is an utterly abhorent practice that should be utterly condemned by any thinking person.
3. This is a radio show that is supposed to be specifically about women’s issues, and if even they struggle not to balk at the subject, how the hell are the general public supposed to think objectively about it?

I am tempted to muse on both topics further, in relation to how they were handled on the show, and my opinions on both matters, but I think I shall save that for another time. Sleep well y’all.

8 Responses to “Women’s Hour”

  1. I was JUST about to KNOW that my comment was going to start out – Knowing what FGM was, would have been useful to taking this info in but I got your point – It’s a good one AM. I think you’re 100% correct in saying that journalists themselves have a responsibility NOT to use acronyms as if we know what the’re talking about. This reminds me of George Carlin’s bit on Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome – it went from those 4 words to some fairy princess term – decapitating it’s existence to letters that nobody can relate to. sleep well, Jayne

  2. Although I live in the United States. I don’t watch any news media, nor talk shows any more. I believe that journalism has changed. It’s not about the news and whats happening in our local area, nor country. It’s all about media frenzy, and ratings. Tell them what they want to hear. And as far as Female Genital Mutilation. I Don’t agree with the practice I believe it’s Barbaric. I did watch a documentary on the subject so I do have an Understanding of Why This Is Practiced. I Certainly Am Very Much Against the Mutilation of Female Genitalia.

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