Posts Tagged 'prejudice'

Twenty-First Century Religion

 

Twenty-First Century Religion

Vikki Littlemore

 

Fresh in the knowledge (revealed this week) that the cost of maintaining the homes of the Church of England’s Bishops last year totalled £3.7 million and another £14.5 million for bishops’ staff and offices, one can’t help but ask what part religion actually plays in modern society.

Undeniable is the hope provided to the devoutly religious, who console themselves that death is not something to be feared because their souls will rise to heaven to sit with God on a cloud, assuming of-course that they comply with the almost fascist strictures of the Bible and do not break any of the commandments.  What does religion offer then to the people who can’t help but contradict the attitude of ‘the Good Book’?  The aggressively religious devotees offer no other elucidation to the homosexual man than that he will spend eternity in hell.  Is this truly what any god (if in existence) would say to one of their children?  Religious dogma declares with one breath that we are ‘all God’s children’ and that ‘God (and/or Jesus) loves us all’, apparently equally, and then in the next breath rejects and rebukes the factors in society which they are unable to comprehend.  If God ‘loves us all’ then why does he not love us all?  Why can he love you but not your gay next-door neighbour? 

  My family recently placed an insurance claim for a slate that had been blown off the roof and onto a car parked in the drive.  The insurance company wriggled out of the claim, insisting that the wind which had blown the tile from the roof had been ‘an act of God’.  Is this really acceptable for the twenty-first century?  Insurance policies based on religious figures that rely on belief and no concrete evidence are surely an archaic antiquity.  It’s like basing an insurance claim on a chimney broken by Father Christmas.  My insistence that Father Christmas does indeed, most definitely exist and did quite unequivocally knock a tile from my chimney is no less substantial and credulous than their claim that God blew a title from my roof.  What next, a return to ducking stools and witch hunts for the disgraced MP’s?  If they don’t drown then they’re fraudulent!

I feel insulted and disrespected on behalf of every hero; every fireman who pulled a child from a burning building and placed the child safely in their mother’s arms only to witness the mother raise her eyes to heaven and thank God for saving her child.  Was it not the bravery, courage and hard work of that one human man who saved that child?  I suppose they would claim that God had given that man the courage to do what he did, but why should the glory and honour be taken away so coldly from the heroic human being?  Every day the human race faces and conquers unimaginable pain and difficulty.  People in their own lives struggle through hard times and come out the other side because of their own resilience and strength, not a man in the sky.  I understand the comfort some people derive from believing in a higher power, but I think we should give humanity the credit (and often disapproval) that it earns for and by itself.    

It was only very recently that a specific change in church ‘law’ and attitude occurred, meaning that children who are not christened do not go to hell.  Before this change, what was said to all the mothers who miscarried children?  If they chose to believe the Church, that their unborn, dead child was in hell because they hadn’t been christened?  What place does a Church like this have in modern society?  That ‘law’ has been changed now but how many others like it still exist?  In a society endeavouring to encourage understanding and acceptance, why do these pockets of poisonous, religious hatred still breed?  What kind of God would tell one of their followers to drive a plane into a building full of people or get onto a bus and detonate a bomb?  Obviously religious fanaticism and terrorism are very different from actual religious piety and the two must be distinguished, but those people claimed they were taking lives in the name of God, a ‘holy war’.  How many people have died because their family denied them a blood transfusion in the name of God?  How many wars and violent deaths have happened across the world and on our streets in the name of God? 

Denying people the right to believe in whatever they feel they want to believe is not constructive or acceptable, but when religion affects our lives against our will, when it invades our lives, which it does, do we have the right to protest?  I feel I should have had the right to protest when my insurance company refused to process my claim.  How can they write a policy based on ‘acts of God’ without having evidence that God exists?  How can we form laws, rules and wars based on something which is no more than mythology?  I appreciate that religion gives hope and that it provides structure and guidance in many people’s lives, that young men in gangs on the streets of New York may equally put down their gun in the name of God as take it up, but should hate be allowed to exist in that name too?  Do we live in a time when it’s still acceptable for people in society to be told that they aren’t loved by God because they are different?  When wars are started, bombs detonated, lives lost, all in the name of religion, is that really a valuable contribution to society?  Like all things that exist in the world, there is some good and some bad.  In one person’s life religion is something positive, beneficial, harmless and benign, but in the hands and mind of another person, the wrong person, religion becomes aggressive, hateful and detrimental to society.  Hatred in any form has no place in our world.  Anything which actively encourages its followers to hate their fellow human beings is injurious and poisonous to humanity.

Religion can admittedly do much good and give many people a better life, but it can just as equally be virulent, hostile and destructive.  Like all things, religion can only have a part in society if it evolves and progresses.  If religion is unable to keep up with the twenty-first century and lose its anachronistic attitudes based on ancient scriptures, then there is no place for it in a society which is trying hard to adapt to a modern way of life.  Religion and all of its followers and practitioners, preachers and pontificators must leave behind a time when it could reject people from society on flimsy caprice and watch its flock starve and fade from gilded windows, dining on fine food and wine bought with the donations of the people starving.  Religion must grow up and bring itself into the twenty-first century or it will continue to be a destructive and toxic tumour, detrimental to our progression.

The Wrong Blonde Joke

The Wrong Blonde Joke

Vikki Littlemore

 

‘A blonde cop stops a blonde motorist and asks for her driving license.  The Motorist scuffles around in her purse and can’t find it. She says to the cop, “I must have left it at home officer.”  The cop says, “Well, do you have any kind of identification?” The motorist scuffles around in her purse again, and finds a pocket mirror.  She looks at it and says to the cop, “All I have is this picture of myself.” The cop says, “Let me see it, then.” So the blonde motorist gives the mirror to the blonde cop, who looks at it, and replies, “Well, if I had known you were a police officer, I wouldn’t have even pulled you over. You can go now.”’.

For every joke that exists about an Englishman, Irishman and Scotsman; there is one about a blonde woman.  A simple internet search reveals a wealth of material aimed at blondes and one website advertises itself as; ‘One of the largest collections of dumb blonde jokes on the internet! The Queen Mother of all blonde jokes sites’.  The image of the ‘dumb blonde’ is as familiar as the dim-witted paddy but does however transcend the boundaries of humour and harmless one-liners when it becomes a vitriolic prejudice in everyday life. 

I encountered my first taste of this preconceived axiom when I was fifteen.  The class was debating media and marketing in relation to blondes and brunettes and one particular girl; the self-righteous, self-regarding mouth of the class, stood up and declared very clearly that blonde women can be identified by the fact that they ‘put make-up on with a trowel’.  I wish now, all these years later, that I had stood up to illustrate that I (being blonde) was wearing not a stitch of make-up and she (brunette) was wearing considerably more.  Sadly I didn’t but it has grieved me ever since.  I find it incredible that this unembarrassed ignorance and chauvinism towards blonde women is completely acceptable and familiar when every other form of bigotry (such as homophobia, racism and sexism) is now firmly unacceptable.  Why are women with blonde hair expected to accept vehement abuse and ridicule when people of varying ethnicities and sexualities no longer have to?  There are laws and regulations in force in the work place to prevent against almost every form of prejudice and discrimination and yet having blonde hair still apparently makes a woman fair game.

I was astounded while watching a recent episode of Come Dine with Me when the narrator; commenting on a female contestant who was behaving in a slightly giddy and ditsy way, jibed; ‘Are you sure you’re not blonde?’.  I was dumfounded.  If the contestant had been behaving differently, would the narrator have been allowed to ask; ‘Are you sure you’re not black?’ or ‘Are you sure you’re not disabled?’.  Those forms of racism and bigotry are completely unacceptable and contemptible and would be met with shock and outrage, so why is the question; ‘Are you sure you’re not blonde’ met with chuckles and light-hearted joviality?  The programme, aired on Chanel 4 on weekday afternoons, is sadly only a representation of a common and expected attitude the world over.   

On the social networking site Facebook, members can participate in quizzes with names like ‘Are You Blonde?’ and the nauseating and repulsive taglines; ‘See how stupid you are’ and ‘Find out if your blonde or normal’.  As I try to comprehend how a distinction between ‘blonde’ and ‘normal’ can be made and the fact that they are even offered as two opposites, I’m sickened by the acerbic and malicious odium behind apparently flippant and innocuous sentiments.  The caustic negativity towards blonde women is masked by humor and playful banter but statements like the above examples contain rancorous and barbed derision and seem to passive-aggressively attack the subject rather than mock.      

As a naturally blonde woman I find that I’m defending myself on a daily basis, having to assure people that I’m not an idiot and remonstrate my own common sense against their assumptions of my stupidity.  People either assume that anyone with blonde hair must unquestionably be a ‘bimbo’ or if not, feel that they have the right to make jokes to the same effect at your expense.  I agree completely that the many young, attractive women who dye their hair blonde and morph into tanned, plastically enhanced Barbie dolls to compensate for their lack of intellectualism, while not making them any less deserving of defence, does give women who just happen to be born with blonde hair a bad press.  I agree that there are many women who would fall completely within the bounds of the ‘bimbo’ stereotype, which is unfair but true.  There are many unintelligent blonde women, just as there are many unintelligent brunette women.  It doesn’t make them bad people, they just mould themselves into a particular typeset.  Unfortunately for the rest of us, all blonde women become tarred with the same brush, as it were.

The fact that I was born with blonde hair, a result of having two blonde parents, does not automatically make me a ‘bimbo by default, in the same way that an Asian man would defend his right not be assumed to be a terrorist, or a German defend their right not to be categorized as a Nazi.  Stereotypes exist but are not without exceptions.

The film Legally Blonde and its subsequent sequel are based entirely on the premise that it is incredible and remarkable that a blonde woman could successfully be accepted to study law at university and, shock of almighty shocks, graduate!  An entire film based on the belief that a blonde woman couldn’t possibly study law, how preposterous! I’d love to make a list of all the blonde female lawyers and partners in law firms I’ve worked for and send it to the people who made those films, but then they wouldn’t believe me, I’m blonde, and the film does after all have a very nice ending where the blonde girl lives happily ever after in spite of her blonde hair.

Caustic prejudice and ignorant mockery of any person based on a physical quality they have no control over should be as unacceptable and deplorable as derision based on skin colour, gender or anything else.  The vitriol between the lines of blonde jokes and the aggressive, bigoted attitude towards blonde women is abhorrent, offensive and hurtful and blonde women should be given the same protection and understanding as any other group subject to prejudice.  Blonde should be a status deserving of respect, just as any race or sexuality is.  No two blonde women are the same, just as no two homosexual people are, or any two black people.  Why do we allow other groups understanding but still condone and accept outrageous and unabashed degradation of blonde women? 

A quick internet search reveals the second entry to be a Wikipedia page with the title ‘Dumb Blonde’.  It is the initial reflex reaction; the caveat to the image of blonde hair.  I find it difficult to comprehend why this prejudice is still allowed to flourish and feel exhausted on behalf of every intelligent woman in the world who spends her entire life proving and insisting that she is ‘not a bimbo’.  Perhaps one day someone will see past the blonde hair and actually listen to what we’re saying.


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Sylvia Plath said; "Let me live, love and say it well in good sentences". My aim in life is to find things and people to love, so that I can write about them. Putting words together is the only thing I can see myself doing. This blog is an outlet, and I hope you enjoy reading it. Please feel free to comment on posts, or contact me by the special e-mail I've set up (vikki.littlemore@live.co.uk) with your thoughts.


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The New Remorse, Oscar Wilde.

The sin was mine; I did not understand.
So now is music prisoned in her cave,
Save where some ebbing desultory wave
Frets with its restless whirls this meagre strand.
And in the withered hollow of this land
Hath Summer dug herself so deep a grave,
That hardly can the leaden willow crave
One silver blossom from keen Winter's hand.

But who is this who cometh by the shore?
(Nay, love, look up and wonder!) Who is this
Who cometh in dyed garments from the South?
It is thy new-found Lord, and he shall kiss
The yet unravished roses of thy mouth,
And I shall weep and worship, as before.

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Music I Love (In no particular order, except that The Smiths are first)

The Smiths,
The Libertines,
The Courteeners,
Nina Simone,
Oasis,
Pete Doherty,
Gossip,
The Kills,
Amy Winehouse,
Arctic Monkeys,
Rod Stewart,
The Doors,
The Rolling Stones,
Etta James,
Babyshambles,
T. Rex,
The Jam,
Morrissey,
Guillemots,
The Kinks,
Jack White,
The Deadweather,
David Bowie,
The Winchesters,
The Cure,
Kaiser Chiefs,
The Kooks,
The Twang,
Kings Of Leon,
Pulp,
Blur,
The Housemartins,
The Ramones,
James,
Robots in Disguise,
The Klaxons,
Kate Nash,
The Raconteurs,
Regina Spektor,
Aretha Franklin,
Stereophonics,
The Contours,
Dirty Pretty Things,
The White Stripes,
New York Dolls,
Yeah Yeah Yeahs,
The Clash,
Style Council,
Velvet Underground,
The Horrors,
The Cribs,
Reverend and The Makers,
The Subways,
The Wombats,
Foals,
Elle S'appelle,
The Troggs,
The Beatles,
Echo and the Bunnymen,
Florence and the Machine.

Olive Cotton, Tea Cup Ballet, 1935

Olive Cotton, Tea Cup Ballet, 1935

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Will it ever be alright for Blighty to have a Queen Camilla?

One less tree from our window each day


Vikki's bookshelf: read

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
1984
Twilight
Of Mice and Men
Pride and Prejudice
The Hobbit
The Da Vinci Code
Lolita
Tipping the Velvet
Wuthering Heights
The Picture of Dorian Grey and Other Works by Oscar Wilde
Bridget Jones's Diary and Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason
Irish Peacock & Scarlet Marquess: The Real Trial of Oscar Wilde
The Peculiar Memories of Thomas Penman
Moab Is My Washpot
The Bell Jar
The Other Boleyn Girl
On the Road
Brideshead Revisited
Revolutionary Road



Vikki Littlemore's favorite books »

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