Bullying Bieber

e8714b53-ef27-4a54-a7b9-8a4335132d59_Justin-Bieber-fight-lashes-out-paparazzi-london-photographerI am not a fan of Justin Bieber. I’ve never knowingly heard one of his songs. I thought keeping the fans waiting for however long it was – 40 minutes? 2 hours? – last week was absolutely appalling. But then last night, I saw a tweet that said

Justin Bieber: “I’ll never come back to the UK”. WE DID IT, BRITAIN.

And it bothered me. Imagine Justin Bieber wasn’t 19, but 9. And it wasn’t Britain, but school. He turned up, full of himself, acting like a twerp (the word Go Fug Yourself decided was the perfect one to describe him). People called him a “fucking cock” and a “fucking moron”. He reacted (wouldn’t you?). He struggled to breathe. He went to hospital. Then he (or rather his parents) decided they’d have to take him out of the school. And the school children said, “WE DID IT!”

I ran this past David and he said, “Yeah, but he was getting paid…” Does that make it okay to call him a “fucking cock/moron” to his face and expect him not to react? Isn’t that still bullying? David said that at school, yeah, it would be, but in this case no. Because he’s a twerp. So it’s okay to bully people you don’t like? People who annoy you? People who are full of themselves? People who don’t live up to their professional responsibilities?

What if, I suggested, it was at work and not school. A 19-year-old turns up, full of himself, acting like a twerp. The next day he’s 40 minutes late. People call him a “fucking cock/moron” and when he reacts they laugh. He goes to hospital. They roll their eyes because, god, he’s only just started work and he’s already off ill? He decides not to come back. And everyone cheers. I’m still not seeing how this isn’t bullying.

Caro Moses wrote a brilliant post for Bea about the “culture of bullying” in relation to Mary Beard. Many people were (rightly) angry about what happened to Beard because she seems lovely and we like her. But it’s fine to bully Bieber right out of the country because he seems like a bit of a git? I’m not convinced.

No more Page 3

My dad used to get The Sun. Page 3 girls were some of the first celebrities I ever realised were celebrities. I was a bit obsessed with them. Linda Lusardi. Suzanne Mizzi. Maria Whittaker. And, of course, eventually, Samantha Fox.

I used to stare at their photos. Not at their breasts – although I probably did a fair amount of staring at them too – but at everything: hair, faces, skin, make-up, teeth. They were so glamorous (they were glamour models, after all).

My mum didn’t buy women’s magazines, so I’m pretty sure the Page 3 Girls were the first images of women I was really familiar with. And, you know, they had no tops on. I can distinctly remember looking at myself in the bathroom mirror and posing like a glamour model. Turn to the side, boobs thrust out. Hands underneath the boobs to hoik them up (this is also how I came to mentally design my amazing hands-holding-boobs bikini top. I couldn’t believe no one had already thought of it. Jeez.)

When the America astronaut Sally Ride died recently, I saw lots of tweets from American women saying she was their role model when they were growing up. I’d never heard of her, but I’ve since learned she was amazing. I wish I’d heard of her when I was growing up, but I don’t remember ever seeing her in The Sun. Even if she had been featured, I doubt I would have noticed her – it was the pictures that leapt out at me. Particularly when they took up an entire page.

When I started writing this post, I googled Maria Whittaker because I remembered her being the Page 3 Girl I most wanted to look like (the women with the unfeasibly large boobs were always my favourites, because I had unfeasibly large boobs – or, at least, I thought I did – so they gave me hope) and I learned that she made her Page 3 debut in 1985 when she was 16. I stared at that for a long time, blinking. She was 16. She was in a national newspaper, topless, for men to drool over and say “Look at the tits on that.” That’s what she was there for. There’s no possible other interpretation. (Is there?) A sixteen year old. In a newspaper. For the sole purpose of sexual objectification.

Please go and read Lucy-Anne Holmes’ post for Bea. And then please sign the petition.

Obligatory Jubilee post

I’m not fussed about the Jubilee. It doesn’t offend me massively (yet), but I’m not excited about it either. I was, however, excited about the Silver Jubilee in 1977, because I was six.

It’s the only street party I can ever remember going to – I’d like to say there should be more street parties, but perhaps not with my neighbours… That’s me in the middle, above. My sister Leanne is on the right and my friend Angela is next to me. I thought me and Leanne had worn our special Jubilee outfits, but it doesn’t look like it. Special Jubilee outfits? I hear you cry. Why yes.

The tops were handknitted by our mum. They were red, white and blue, obv., and had little crowns around the bottom. You can’t see them very well on the above photo. But you can on this’un.

With white pleated skirts and knee socks. Lovely.

Harry and Joe are mildly interested in the Jubilee. Joe insists that all the bunting and flags are actually for his birthday (which is in January) and won’t be argued with. Although he has made one slight concession and is now calling it “My Jubilee birthday.” Earlier he said he wanted to send a message to the Queen to “thank her for my lunches”. When I said the Queen’s got nothing to do with his lunches, he hissed at me.

I did feel slightly guilty that my lack of interest was robbing my children of a lovely memory, so on Friday we had a Jubilee picnic lunch. At home. Seventies-style.

They seemed to enjoy it. Harry said, “We’re celebrating the Queen for all the laws she’s made and things she’s created.” Well… not so much, no. But sausages on sticks are always the right answer, eh?