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Thoughts upon the word of news – and vaginas

One aspect of the universality of social media and the internet is that it has not just broken the mould of what used to be the traditional (and for ages presumed unchangeable) means of news dissemination but actually blow the whole world of news information and human interaction wide-open.

For most of us beyond a certain age – who, to be open about it, were broadly comfortable with what went before – it is inevitably all a bit disconcerting.

Whether or not we acknowledged the ownership issues of traditional newspapers and television channels, or indeed questioned the subjectivity (or impartiality) thereof, it did feel as if there were some basic fundamentals and principles that could be relied upon –¬† journalistic integrity being one of them.

Despite occasional public spats over the BBC’s impartiality¬† – and indeed whether it was impartial at all, and/or from time to time had been ‘captured’ by those with either left-wing or right-wing agendas – generally we all bought into the conceit of a smug impression that, whatever nonsense any other national broadcasters were pumping out, at least “Auntie” could be relied upon to give a fair and honest account of what was happening around the globe.

In these days of the fabled “Fake News” phenomenon and the internet – and may vast internet conglomerates – being regarded simply as enablers or facilitators, there are few (no?) quality filters dividing the warped, lunatic, hare-brained, ridiculous or naked propaganda-filled from that which is honest, accurate and true.

Any internet-user can find footage and arguments that support any theory or agenda that it is possible to invent.

We know there is stuff put out by Islamic fundamentalist jihadi groups that can recruit and poison vulnerable or youthful or stupid minds; I read only days ago of a report by research scientists that the numbers of believers in the theory that the Earth is flat have been growing rapidly, simply because the Flat Earth Society (and organs like it) have been putting items supportive of the theory online – you could probably make a similar statement about thousands of other conspiracy and rationally-dodgy items.

Which brings me neatly – or oddly, some might think – to the topic of female vaginas.

What strikes me – with political correctness being a major and fashionable driver in Western countries in the 21st Century – it is only natural that women’s issues generally are coming more and more into the mainstream because (1) there are a lot of us about; (2) many of us are intelligent, articulate and forceful, and (3) [some might argue with justification] that this is a long overdue development.

I cannot claim over the decades to have washed more than a small amount of of my dirty linen (or indeed other intimate aspects of my personal life) in public but – from a feminist point of view – I would defend to the hilt the right of those who do.

The only reservation I have about the female of the species bringing – some of my male colleagues might suggest ‘force-feeding’ – some of these subjects into the mainstream is that (to some extent) I fear that all the positive motivations behind the development will in fact be undermined by the impression given to the internet-savvy general public that these feminine concerns are no more (or less) worthy of attention than millions of other subjects, the majority of which any ‘quality control’ filter worthy of the name would have consigned to a ‘discard’ pile.

As it happens, on Monday I spent 90 minutes driving home, listening to an Irish presenter Laura Whitmore standing in for Nihal Arthanayake on Radio Five Live’s afternoon show as I did so.

One major item she featured was a discussion with three fashion industry insiders or commentators about “Fast Fashion” – the recent trend among women for buying wincingly-cheap clothes and simply throwing them away if not straight afterwards, then within a week or two.

During the piece issues were raised about the working conditions to which those factory workers in far-off countries who produced clothes costing no more than ¬£5 or ¬£10 per item were subjected; the billions of pounds’ worth of wastage and resulting long-term ecological damage that the world fashion industry produces ever year, with “Fast Fashion” being a huge factor; and the extent to which ethical or environmentally-sound issues should affect the fashion industry and/or female shoppers’ decisions.

To be frank, even as I was listening to the chat about these very important matters, I was also struck by the contradictions within the attitudes being expressed.

There was plenty of hot air about how important ‘sustainable’, ethically-sound and environmentally-aware fashion garments were and should increasingly be in the future.

But at the same time – both among those taking part in the studio discussion and the acknowledged assumptions and imperatives that female shoppers take into account – it seemed accepted as an absolute fact that women just love buying clothes for the sake of it and – frankly – their interest in saving the planet, or being ethically-aware, or worried about climate change and indeed the clear message that the effects of fashion was a huge problem for the future survival of humanity was secondary and to all intents and purposes minimal.

Anyway. See here for a link to a review of a recent programme shown on Channel Four about vaginas, as appears today upon the website of – THE GUARDIAN

About Lavinia Thompson

A university lecturer for many years, both at home and abroad, Lavinia Thompson retired in 2008 and has since taken up freelance journalism. She is currently studying for a distant learning degree in geo-political science and lives in Norwich with her partner. More Posts