A Lesson in Abstinence

Allegory of Chastity, by Hans Memling (1475, oil on wood)

Early Wednesday afternoon, when Nadine Dorries, Conservative MP for Mid Bedfordshire, moved to introduce a Bill to ‘require schools to provide certain additional sex education to girls aged between 13 and 16; to provide that such education must include information and advice on the benefits of abstinence from sexual activity; and for connected purposes’, she set alight to the feminist blogosphere (See here, here, here, and here, for examples).

Central to the feminist criticism is the clear gender asymmetry contained in the proposal, as immediately pointed out by her detractor Chris Bryant, Labour MP for Rhondda (a transcription of the debate is to be found here). ‘For a start, the Bill is just about girls,’ complained Bryant, ‘I am not an expert, but it seems axiomatic to me that if we want to tackle teenage pregnancy, we have to talk to the boys and the girls.’ Continue reading “A Lesson in Abstinence”

On the Naughty Step, Mr Brown…

This week’s political headlines in the UK have been dominated by the emergence on Sunday of reports that a number of staff working at No.10 Downing Street in the office of the Prime Minister had contacted the National Bullying Helpline in response to treatment by their employer. Alongside these reports, the media has widely covered stories recounted in the book of political commentator Andrew Rawnsley, who describes a number of incidents involving Mr Brown, his staff, and apparently toys being thrown out of prams.

Despite Gordon Brown’s temper already being well-known, political debate has, quite predictably in an election year, focussed on the potential for character assassination of the PM. Continue reading “On the Naughty Step, Mr Brown…”