Sunday, 23 May 2010

Uganda, Gender and Phobias

Over the weekend I’ve thought some about the Gay and Lesbian thing in Uganda that I mentioned in my previous post … and thanks Dani for your comment on that.

The text of the memorandum that describes the proposed bill is available by clicking here.

It makes sadder reading than I had imagined.

It says that it aims to protect the traditional family. And yet presents non-facts as facts.It gives the impression of being put together by people who are afraid of something or someone that they don’t understand. People who feel threatened. People who feel that the only way to deal with people who are different is to eradicate them. It rates as one of the most homophobic pieces of literature that I have ever read.

It says:

2. The offence of homosexuality.
(1) A person commits the offence of homosexuality if-
(a) he penetrates the anus or mouth of another person of the same sex with his penis or any other
sexual contraption;
(b) he or she uses any object or sexual contraption to penetrate or stimulate sexual organ of a
person of the same sex;
(e) he or she touches another person with the intention of committing the act of homosexuality.
(2) A person who commits an offence under this section shall be liable on conviction to
imprisonment for life.

And goes on:

3. Aggravated homosexuality.
(1) A person commits the offense of aggravated homosexuality where the
(a) person against whom the offence is committed is below the age of 18 years;
(b) offender is a person living with HIV;
(c) offender is a parent or guardian of the person against whom the offence is committed;
(d) offender is a person in authority over the person against whom the offence is committed;
(e) victim of the offence is a person with disability;
(f) offender is a serial offender, or
(g) offender applies, administers or causes to be used by any man or woman any drug, matter or
thing with intent to stupefy overpower him or her so as to there by enable any person to have
unlawful carnal connection with any person of the same sex,
(2) A person who commits the offence of aggravated homosexuality shall be liable on conviction
to suffer death.

And there is more. All of it depressing and saddening.

The Church of Uganda has published its own views … you can read them if you click here. And a group of Thinking Anglicans have expressed opinions on this here. The Anglican thinkers that have expressed thoughts are unimpressed with the Church of Uganda’s statement. Thank goodness.

There is an interesting article published by the New York Times here. There are also some views of people that live in Uganda here. If you have time please listen to them and let me know what you think. The taxi driver says, of Gay and lesbian people:


I am telling you, these people are not bad. They are not bad.

The Church Times has an article here.With some additional comments here. 

A Ugandan bishop’s view (Joseph Abura) of it all is here.

I find this latter article the saddest of all. The same kid of idiocy that justified slavery … apartheid … the oppression of women … of protestants … Catholics … children … muslins.

It’s hard for me to understand how a Church can allow a man with such opinions to hold any kind of official position.

As I write this there is a program on television. A young black South African girl is crying as she tells the story of how she was raped. The narrator said that black South African girls have a 1 in 3 chance of finishing secondary school. They have a 1 in 2 chance of being raped. And nothing much seems to be done about it.

There is an article at Afrol here that includes the following information on Uganda:

Violence against women, including rape, remains common. Wife beating is viewed as a husband's prerogative. Delays in bringing capital offense cases to trial in situations, where a husband killed his wife, remains common.

Child abuse remains a serious problem, particularly the rape of young girls (known locally as "defilement"). While defilement carries a maximum sentence of death, that punishment has never been meted out to a convicted rapist.

An undetermined number of women were victims of abduction and rape by rebel forces. In past years, the LRA rebels/terrorists also reportedly sold and traded children, mostly girls, or provided them as gifts to arms dealers in Sudan. Women may not own or inherit property, nor retain custody of their children under local customary law.

Polygamy is legal under both customary and Islamic law, and a wife has no legal status to prevent her husband from marrying another woman. Men also may "inherit" the widows of their deceased brothers.  The proportion of girls in higher school grades remains low since families traditionally  favour boys when making financially related educational decisions.

The marriage of young girls by parental arrangement is common, especially in rural areas.  Females of the Sabiny tribe are subjected to the practice of Female Genital Mutilation  (FGM).


Maybe someone somewhere expects the proposed new bill to solve these problems.

Thursday, 20 May 2010

Being ourselves

Last night there was an item on the BBC 10:00 o’clock news that saddened me a lot at first. The more I think about it, though, the more it fills me with a sense of anger.

According to the story, the Ugandan government is considering introducing a death sentence for certain types of homosexual activity. Or maybe it will only be life imprisonment.

Of course … I know that the BBC is not always totally impartial. And I admit to having biases myself. So the story that I heard and the way that I interpreted it might not be the way that it actually is.

So … please read this as a comment on an attitude rather than an attack upon Uganda.

It was an update of the kind of information presented here.

The news item last night included extracts from an interview with a church man and scenes from a service that he seemed to be leading. I think it was the reporter John Simpson that said to the church leader that he had seldom experienced such hatred as was evident in the church service.

The badges that people wore expressed a vehement attitude against the act of sodomy.

A biblical perspective on this is given here. It’s not pleasant reading.

There is this whole thing about gay sexuality being “unnatural”.

I used to think that way myself.

These days I realise that people engage in many unnatural activities that some religious zealots are happy enough to engage in. To name a few:

  • flying
  • driving around in automobiles

Surely … if God had intended us to do these things we would be born with wings .. or wheels.

But if God had intended us not to do those things .,.. maybe we shouldn’t have brains either?

There was a time in my life when I had this belief that gay relationships must be about sexual depravity.

Amy Ray and Emily Saliers (Indigo Girls) helped me discover that gay and lesbian relationships … just like heterosexual relationships … can be about love.

In that discovery … fell away a whole lot of misconceptions and prejudices.

I know … some people would say that they have been replaced by a whole lot of other misconceptions and prejudices.

My daughter once shared with me that the thing that she finds hardest when talking with some lesbian friends is that way that some seem to think that every girl should be lesbian.

Of course … there seem to be plenty of heterosexual people that think that everyone should be heterosexual.

There are some Catholics that think everyone should be Catholic. Born again evangelicals that think everyone should be a born again evangelical. Muslims that think everyone should be Muslim.

Me … I’d be happy if everyone agreed with me.

Well no … not really. If everyone agreed with me I’d worry about it because I hate the idea of agreeing with everyone!

One day maybe we will learn to accept differences. I’m still learning and I know that I haven’t got there yet.

There is a French saying: Vive la difference! And I can happily say Amen to that.

Tonight, driving back from the office, I listened to a song by Julie Matthews. It’s called Take these Bones … there's some background info on the song here. It’s about the use of Comfort Women by the Japanese during the second World War.

For me it makes me wonder about the way that people have had a propensity to exploit each other.

There are some aspects of masculinity that are not at all nice things.

It’s strange how some people sometimes seem to be very anti twenty-first behaviour such as consensual homosexuality … pornography … prostitution … and yearn for the sublime past … days of legalised child labour … no votes for women … slaves.

I wonder if there is significance in the fact that it was a woman caught in the act of adultery that was brought before Jesus and not a man. It’s hard not to suspect that it’s because it was a society controlled by men that made sure it happened that way.

In a way I’m maybe a feminist … or at least a laissez-faire kind of feminist … and kinda glad that a part of me at least is a girl.

And yet … even more than that … within reason at any rate … I think it’s good to allow people to just be who they are and not force them to be who we want them to be.

Monday, 17 May 2010

Balls, Gowns and Bicycle Tyres

Slowly but surely Sparkle is approaching.

A few weeks ago Tina and I booked tickets for the ball … along with Laura and Billie.

Ball gowns are optional says the publicity material.

I decided to take a look around anyways. Not necessarily for a ball gown … just a long evening dress.

Last week Sally and I took a look around Windsor but found nothing. We didn’t actually visit all the shops … just the ones that might have something in the “not totally insane” kind of price bracket.

Yesterday we had a wander around Slough.

It involved quite a lot of walking … but eventually we spotted a little something at the Jane Norman section at Debenhams’s.

Here it is:


Not ultra-extravagant, but I do like it.

On getting back home I was co-opted to fix a puncture in a bicycle tyre.

On the good side … it was the front one.

On the bad side … I hate breaking my finger nails.

So I tried wearing gardening gloves.

On the good side … I lost only a little piece of one fingernail.

On the bad side … having got the wheel off, and the inner tube out … gone through the process of filling the bowl of water … pumping up the inner tube … and patiently moving it around in the water looking for bubbles … there were no bubbles. None at all.

Next time someone (aka Sally) says there is a puncture in a bicycle tyre I think I’ll just pump it up and leave it for a day or two before getting out the spanners (that’s wrenches in American, I think … and tyre is loosely translated as tire).

All in all, sorting out the fingernails took longer than sorting out the tyre. But … sorting out the dress took even longer.

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

Wet Knickers, Little talc coated rubber things and Pink Punters

09:30 am and I wake. Not early … but not late either … well … it is Saturday (8th May 2010).

The “Bodygroom - Rechargeable Male Body Hair Trimmer” is all recharged and ready to go.

I’ve used it a few times now. I believe it’s not as effective as waxing … but a whole lot less painful. It’s also not so good as a BIC disposable razor either … but a lot faster and easier … and less prone to little cuts and nicks. Well … apart from the last time I used it. Ouch.

Today is mishap-less.

Tooth brushing.



Remove the clear nail polish. I pretty much always wear this these days … reduces the number of tears that I shed due to nail breakages.

Paint on the Rimmel Hot Gossip whilst half watching people cooking and eating on television. Two coats takes about 15 minutes. Followed by a coat of clear polish. Followed by a wait.

A little while messing on the computer. Another coffee.

The SatNav is with Katie … so it’s Google maps to get directions to the hotel.

Ring … ring.


“Hi. Andrea?


“It’s Billie. I just printed out the room reservation … how many rooms did you book?”

“Two doubles. It comes out as 2 bookings for 1 room … not 1 booking for two rooms. I mean … two bookings … each for a different room.”

“Ah … that’s ok then. See you later.”

14:00 and I search out a suitcase and start looking through clothes.

Of course I have given this some thought already.

Decisions … decisions.

I really do need a bigger wardrobe. Or less clothes. It depends on who you ask. 

I remove a stack of things so that there’s enough room to slide the clothes along the rail and see what there is.

It’s just one evening. I know.

So … well … maybe … but then again … maybe.

In the end … the suitcase contains … a short black dress with sequins at the top … a not so short velvety black dress … a short black skirt with little pleats … a short black denim skirt … a not so short purple dress … a white jacket … a shiny black shirt … a not at all shiny black blouse … a black t-shirt … 3 pairs of black tights … 3 pairs of tan tights … two pairs of shoes.

And then there’s the rest: 4 boobs … a black bra … a white bra … a strapless bra (I know … more bras than boobs and more than enough boobs for one persons chest) … 3 pairs of black knickers … a black nightie.

And there is still: foundation … face powder … powder pad … brush … 2 shades of eye shadow … liquid eye liner … eye liner pencil … mascara … more mascara just in case the first one is empty … eye brush … blush … blush brush … red lipstick which is more like lip paint … pink lipstick … gloss.

And more: watch … rings … necklaces … earrings. Makeup remover. Eye makeup remover. Makeup removal tissues. Nail polish. Cotton wool balls. Nail polish remover.

Toothbrush. Razor. Toothpaste.

Hair. The hair is really important!


Handbag. Camera. Purse.

It’s a fairly big suitcase.

15:15 I load the car and head for the petrol station and cash dispenser.

Ring … ring.


“Hello. Andrea?”


“Hi it’s Nikki. Where are you?

“Just about to set off … be there in an hour or so.”

“Ok. We’re in room 105 … Billie and Laura have room 107.”

The low pitched conversations that we girls have still make me smile.

Due to a fairly complex set of circumstances I am driving Sarah’s car rather than my own. The radio was stolen a while back … so I’m making use of an MP3 player and earphones. Mostly Indigo Girls and Chris While & Julie Matthews.

Did you know … Indigo Girls are one of Chris While & Julie Matthews favourite things? Well … now you do.

Windsor and Eaton Relief Road. M4. M25. M1. A505. A5. Watling Street. Penn Road. Campanile Hotel. The journey is straightforward enough.

Check in at reception. It seems everyone has arrived.

Nikki is out shopping.

Shave. I know I did it once already.

Shower. And that too.

Damn. I forgot to bring moisturiser!

Knickers and tights.

Stockings are nicer … but fastening suspender belts can get me hot and bothered. And holdups … well … sometimes they don’t. And the black dress is a little on the short side.

Strapless bra. Boobs. Just one pair.

Foundation. Fingers to smooth it on.

Ring … ring.

“Hi Nikki.”

“Hi Andrea. Where are you?”

“In the room.”

“I’m shopping. See you in a bit.”

Pat on the translucent powder. Brush off the excess.

Pale blue eye shadow at the tops of my eyelids.

Grey shadow at the bottom of my eyelids and a little under the eyes.

Liquid liner on the top eyelids. Liner pencil on the bottom.

Brush it a bit to blend it.

Ring … ring.


“Andrea? It’s Laura. Where are you?”

“I think I’m next door … well if you’re in room 107 then I’m next door.”

“What are you doing?”
“Makeup … how about you?”

“Same … see you in a bit then.”

Blush and lips.


I decide on the purple dress.

Nikki arrives and decides to pop next door to see how things are going.

Black shoes … the ones with the shorter heels … only about 3.5 inches.

Nikki gets back.

“They’re watching Doctor Who.”

Nikki showers and starts touching up the makeup.

We cat about all kinds of things … including nails and how to strengthen them.

Zinc … we have heard … is good for nails.

Nikki says it’s also good as an aphrodisiac.  And it seems she is not alone.


Knock … knock.

Laura and Billie arrive and we head for the hotel bar whist Nikki finishes the touching up. Of makeup.

A little while later we are eating. Here’s Billie and Nikki:


And here is Andrea and Laura:


Laura whispers.

“I wet my knickers watching Doctor Who.”

I remember hiding behind the couch from the Daleks when I was a kid.

But knicker wetting is a totally different ball game.

My choice of words is sometimes unfortunate.

Actually the truth is not so frightening.

During the Doctor Who watching session Laura had been laying on the bed clad somewhat scantily it seems.

The bottle of water was somewhat squishier than expected and in taking the top of it went … well … splish and splash.

And hey presto … Doctor Who becomes a knicker wetting experience.

Time to get changed.

Nikki requests a photo stop en-route to the bedrooms.

A little posing at the bottom of the steps.

A guy at the door asks if we’d like a picture with everyone in it.

We nod.

“See you later” he says … “I’ll be wearing a stripy top.”

Here’s one of the pictures … Billie, Laura, Andrea and Nikki:


Nikki took this one of me:

P1000130_720x960 - Copy

And I took this of Nikki:

P1000132_720x960 - Copy

And here’s Laura (spot the belly button):

P1000133_720x960 - Copy

Laura took these:



Back in the room.

Purple dress off.

Short black dress on.

Powder the nose.

Nikki gets out a talc coated little rubber thing.

Dress I mean.

She says that tonight we’ll fasten the belt before applying the stuff that makes it all shiny.

The dress goes on.

Then the belt. It’s a lot easier than the last time we tried this …. which was a four girl effort … though Emma was actually only videoing the event.

The shiny making stuff was a spray last time. This time its in a bottle.


In moments all is shiny.

P1000137_720x960 - Copy


9:30 pm and we head down the hotel corridor.

The music from the floor above is loud enough for Billie to suggest that we go see what’s going on.

Upstairs it’s party time in preparation for heading over the road to Pink Punters. Laura beckons us on:

P1000138_1280x960 - Copy

This is the tricky part. Names.

“I’m … and this is Mary … and this is …”

… signifies my not so good memory.


We’re invited to share in a drink and stay and talk a while.

Laura and … compare stocking tops. Again … is my not so good memory.

Can you tell which legs belong to Laura?


Katie arrives in a stripy top … looking not even vaguely like the guy that took the photos just a little while ago.


Eventually we head across the road.




P1000144_1280x960 - Copy

It’s a normal kind of evening.

A few drinks.

Some dancing.



Lucy arrives … one of the girls from the party upstairs at the hotel.

She makes encouraging noises … we really ought to be downstairs dancing.

Her shoe size is the same as Billie’s … and Billie can’t help but try them on. Here you can see one shoe on Billie and one on Lucy … which leg belongs to which person?


Lucy and I share unhappy experiences with holdup stockings. There are times when they just don’t hold up.

A few more people from the party pass by and stop and chat a while.


Here’s Katie:


Matthew and Lucy:



A fairy and a schoolgirl:


An Andrea and a schoolgirl:


I have a dress just like that one, courtesy of Ann Summers … this is me wearing it at a Trans-Femme photo session in June 2008:

Andrea (213)_720x960

Andrea and a fairy:



These were taken by the Pink Punters photographer:



The originals of these two are at here and here. There are a whole lot more Pink Punters photos of the night here.

“What time does it get light?”

Well … at 05:10 am, when we left, it was light.

A short trek across the road … a wave to the receptionist at the hotel.

Makeup removal and eventually some sleep … but not a lot.

A nice, nice evening.

Tuesday, 4 May 2010

The Daily Mail, Chatroulette and Transvestites

Once in a while … well quite often really … I look at the headlines in Google News. Sometimes I even read the entire article. This one here (Last updated at 12:48 AM on 27th April 2010) caught my eye … the headline being:

Chatroulette: Is new teenage website the most disturbing internet craze yet?

I have a bias here … several biases in fact.

The first of my biases is that I’ve never really been impressed by the Daily Mail’s ability to report news in an impartial and unbiased way.

So here goes on my analysis of what Olivia Lichtenstein says about Chatroulette.

First – the headline.

Chatroulette isn’t a teenage website. It’s a web site. It’s no more a teenage website than the Daily Mail is a teen newspaper.

Maybe Olivia didn’t write the headline … but whoever did was putting an immediate misconception into the mind of the reader.

The article says:

When writer OLIVIA LICHTENSTEIN's daughter told her about a 'cool' new teen website, she decided to investigate. What she found was the most worrying internet craze to date.

A selection of the criticisms levelled at Chatroulette are:

  • What may have started as the innocent game of a Moscow schoolboy has quickly become a potential tailor-made portal for perverts and paedophiles - proving once again that the internet is putting the lives of our vulnerable teenagers in jeopardy
  • The latest Frankenstein monster spawned by the internet is, as with so much web-based activity, impossible to monitor, restrict or control.
  • The ease with which I was able to access it was terrifying.
  • Within seconds you find yourself jettisoned into a stranger's bedroom, living room, or, all too often, trousers.
  • At least one out of every five of the strangers I was connected to was a man with the camera pointed directly at his private parts. Within the first few seconds of using the site, I was asked: ' Do you show boobs?'
  • The ability to parachute into the lives of strangers is simultaneously addictive and repellent. Just like pornography, it leaves the user feeling dirty and ashamed.
  • The fact that my daughter and her friends are not shocked by the site is shocking in itself - it's a further indication that such aberrant behaviour has been normalised.
  • Thanks to the internet - such sexualised behaviour is pervading all generations.
  • I fear for what is going to happen next. For, when you think back to the creation of mobile phones, what started as a useful way of communicating quickly turned into sexting (sending explicit text messages).
  • Now, we face the worrying prospect that a growing number of men find it acceptable to expose themselves to strangers online - and the young girls watching them not only think it's normal, but some even agree to perform sex acts on themselves in return.
  • While users of other social networking sites are urged to check the identities of those they talk to, Chatroulette aficionados socially enter into conversation with random strangers who remain entirely anonymous.
  • The site is little more than a haven for exhibitionists and voyeurs.
  • It's not a game, it's porn, and pornography is addictive, corrosive and promotes unhealthy sexual stereotypes and behaviour for girls and boys. It undermines dignity and respect for others by making sexual intimacy into little more than a spectator sport without love, commitment or responsibility.
  • I discovered during my short venture into that world, it's yet another example of the pernicious sexual culture that threatens to corrupt the fibre of our children's innocence.
  • Just think of the way that Ashley Cole threw away his marriage to Cheryl Cole by texting naked photos of himself to a stranger, before embarking on an alleged affair with her. 17-year-old Ashleigh Hall was raped and murdered by 26-year-old Peter Chapman, a man who had met and groomed her on Facebook.

The things I find difficult about a lot of the above is the way that it’s written in a clear-cut black fashion. And it doesn’t add up.

There are quite a lot of comments from various people. Not many of the comments show much agreement with the author.

People can rate the comments. The two comment that are rated worst are:

The first chapter of Romans 21-25 sums up the situation....
"For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.
Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles.
Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another.
They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshipped and served created things rather than the Creator-who is forever praised. Amen."
Just another sign of our times..


There is no option this site must be taken down!!!
There are no effective controls at all and even if teenagers are not too shocked, this has to be made a no-go zone or there will be more tragedy down the line!!!

The most positively rated comments are:

I'd be wary of letting anyone use a computer who's thick enough to install that Canon toolbar.


If parents don't want their teenagers using sites such as these (a sentiment I largely agree with) then parents must restrict their teenagers access to them.
Why are there always calls for the Government to ban such sites? Do you really want politicians deciding what is and what is not good or bad for your children? Why can't we as parents take control? We would all go to great lengths to protect our kids from sexual deviants in any other sphere of life so why not with the internet and mobile phones (for mobile internet access)?

Some of my thoughts:

  • Chatroulette doesn’t seem like the kind of place that anyone would use if they were trying to groom anyone. The webcam has got to make any pretence at being someone else more difficult.
  • 80% of the people that Olivia communicated with did not have their genitals on display. So is it fair to say that it is “little more than a haven for exhibitionists and voyeurs”
  • It is not true that pornography always leaves every user feeling dirty and ashamed.
  • Some aspects of the Internet may be putting the lives of vulnerable teenagers in jeopardy. But so does the production of clothing, coffee and tea by organisations that use child labour. So does the arms trade. So do parents. So have some Catholic priests.
  • It is not true that it is impossible to monitor, restrict or control children’s access to the Internet. In a similar way that we put child-proof gadgets on cupboard containing bleach and drawers full of kitchen knives – it’s possible to manage access to the Internet. It would be irresponsible of adults not to.
  • Times change – a lot what once was viewed as aberrant behaviour has been normalised. Is that a bad thing? It depends on a persons biases and perspectives. To be gay was once aberrant. To be transgendered was one aberrant. To be a member of a racial minority group was aberrant. To be female was aberrant. I admit that the normalisation of instant displays of genitalia isn’t quite in the same category as these other things. But one person’s “aberrant” is another persons “normal”. No one that I know of is forced to use Chatroulette.
  • I’ve never receive 
  • Pornography may result in unhealthy stereotypes … but this isn’t by any means  inevitable. And … stereotypes of any kind are usually not a good thing. Children need to know this.

As I said … the thing that I find offensive about the article is that there is no room for discussion. No room for doubt. No real question-asking. It seems to include as much misinformation as information. It’s a series of assertions of apparent absolute truths.

My biased view of the Daily Mail’s reporting has also been partly fuelled by an article which was published a while ago.

There’s some information about it here. A few words from the beginning of this:

A national newspaper article which described Liphook as "a country town invaded by transvestites" is at the centre of a storm of controversy.

A feature in the Daily Mail reported how a social group for transvestites, called Fabuliss, has been hiring a room in the Millennium Hall for social events.
But the article has inspired scores of messages of support for the group on Liphook's community website.

I know people that go to Fabuliss. The article that appeared in the Daily Mail was a fabrication that bore no resemblance to reality.  It was biased and full of misinformation. The Daily Mail article no longer appears online … it used to be here. There seems to be way too much of an attitude that says something like … “if they are different from us they must be evil perverts.”

It would be satisfying to say “I’ll never buy the Daily Mail again.”

It would also be inaccurate since I never have bought a copy of it before.

There may, however, be a sense in which such obviously biased and inaccurate misinformation ends up having the exact opposite effect from the one that was intended. Perhaps that’s why the article was eventually withdrawn?