The rape of life

It seems like every time I bring up the Guardian website this week, everyone is talking about rape.

Whether it's rape jokes at the Edinburgh festival, the medieval concept of "legitimate rape", the Julian Assange case or Todd Akin and George Galloway sharing their opinion of what constitutes rape... it's the most hotly debated topic on my Twitter feed right now.

I'm going to preface this entry by confirming that I have no personal experience of rape and I'm pro-choice, so I would hope that I am as open minded as a person could hope to be.

I am going to quote President Obama here and say that "rape is rape".
There are no "types" of rape, no degrees of what act is more "rapey" than another act.

If a man or woman says no to a sex act, then it is not consensual sex, ergo rape.

If a man or woman is unconscious and has never professed a desire to be woken with a sex act, then having sex with their unconscious body is rape.

If a man or woman says "not without a condom" and you bully them into continuing, then that is rape.

If at any point during the sex act the man or woman changes their mind and says stop, but you ignore them and continue then that is rape.

Rape is rape. No means no. Whether you're merely making an overture to someone and they make it clear your advances are unwelcome, or whether you are in a relationship or on a date and they make it clear that your advances are unwelcome - no means no.

If the person you are making advances to is drunk or drugged or otherwise mentally incapable of making a sound judgement and giving consent, then one would hope that you have enough sensitivity and morals to not take advantage of that situation, just in case.

Making justifications about the situation leading up to an accusation of rape, does not excuse the act.
A woman may dress and behave in a certain way to gain attention, but unless she consents to sex then she is not "asking for it" - it's never OK to assume consent.

I am not denying that there may exist people who attempt to "trap" someone by accusing them of rape as part of some sort of agenda, or revenge, that they may perhaps have cheated on a partner and became pregnant and fabricated a rape story... I'm not going to get into the concept of "statutory" rape either, because I do believe that people can sexually mature before the age of consent... and in the case of BDSM or acting out rape fantasies where saying "no" may be part of the fantasy - each to their own, I'm not here to judge but even then, in that situation if a person uses the safe word to say no, to revoke consent then continuing is also rape.

BUT. In a position where someone does not consent to sex, they should be afforded the respect and compassion of having their choice respected.

Ziggy played guitarrrrrraaaaarrrrraaaarrrrrr.

Title: Get Real by David Bowie

I pity the fool

Since the day I moved in with The Boy (now The Husband) 2 weeks shy of 4 years ago, I have been planning the construction of The Kitchen.

The ripping out of walls, replacing of floors, re-plastering, rewiring, installing gas, tiling... this is not a quick job replacing cupboard doors and a lick of paint. This is gutting a room back to the bare bricks and installing a completely new kitchen over a period of a month.

For a food blogger, being without my kitchen for a month is... I have no words for how hard that is.
For a person suffering OCD, the disruption to the house is even harder.

But, like anything worth doing it's worth doing right. I spent weeks choosing a spectacular one of a kind purple and black Belling range. 8 gas burners, 4 ovens, we've excavated the chimney breast and had cupboards custom-built to surround it. I've colour matched the kettle, toaster, kitchen scales and other accessories. The entire kitchen, in short has been designed around this particular oven.

And more than that, the entire construction process is to be timed and executed around the installation of this oven. Currently the kitchen is a rubble filled shell, waiting it to be delivered next week in order for the electrics and new gas supply to be connected where the various pipes and extractors need to go. The chimney breast cannot be tiled without the oven and extractor. The floor coverings cannot go in without the oven. The cupboards cannot go in without the oven.

Do you see where this is going?

Upon calling Comet, where we bought the oven from, to provide them with the delivery date, we were told that the oven could not be delivered until mid-September. The guy doing the construction is having knee replacement surgery in September.

A MONTH FROM NOW. A month where progress on this kitchen cannot continue beyond the bare minimum of plastering half of the walls and ceiling. A month where I will not have a functioning kitchen.
A month where even when the oven is delivered, it cannot be finished due to the knee surgery. When he had surgery on his first knee, it took him 4 months before he could go back to work.

We bought this oven from Comet based on the fact that it could be made and delivered at a certain point during the construction process. They understood this and agreed to it. My husband came off the phone delighted with the customer service when he ordered it.

We are in the position where we cannot look to another supplier for the oven or turn back the construction of the kitchen. It's gone too far now.

When my husband called this morning to try to resolve the situation, they hung up on him.

Hung. Up. On. Him.

This is going to leave us without a kitchen, with people coming to stay at the end of the month for The Husband's birthday that I cannot cater for. With a kitchen that may not be finished until 5 months from now.
How are we going to eat? How are we going to be able to afford to cope for 5 months without a kitchen?

And Comet don't give a shit, if you'll excuse the phrase. No apology. no offer of compensation. No solution to having some priority on manufacture at Belling because of course they have their own supply chain of parts to wait for etc.

So thank you Comet. Thank you for ruining my kitchen.


Thank you for the support so far everyone. This blog has had a fantastic number of views and it only took a minor amount of retweeting for us to be contacted first by the lovely Belling (manufacturer of the oven) to say that they're going to contact Comet on our behalf and try to resolve the situation.

Secondly by Comet who have not apologised or offered a solution as of yet, but assured us they are looking into it. They don't seem to have grasped the severity of the situation, but rather asked what we felt a fair resolution would be.

1) Having the oven delivered on time, or no later than 1 week beyond what was promised so that my kitchen can be completed this month before the man who is constructing it has his knee operation.

2) Having an ex-display model delivered on time, with an appropriate reduction in cost and apology for the inconvenience and distress that they have caused.

3) Having a replacement oven (of the same spec, size and colour) provided on time or no later than 1 week beyond what was promised.

They do not have any excuse for this situation. At the time of ordering we explained our situation, and that if they could not supply the oven within the time-scales then we could not order it and would have to seek an alternative. They assured us it could be done.

When we had the order confirmation a few days later it stated delivery of 25th December. We called to enquire and were told that it was the standard date that the system puts in, and that the oven would be available within the timescales we required.

That was two opportunities they had to check the delivery and let us know that it could not be done. But they didn't. The person we spoke to today, told us that they have always known the timescales for manufacture and always known that Belling go on Factory shutdown in August for 2 weeks. They claim that it could never have been delivered in time.

But yet when this situation could have been rectified, they did not take the opportunity to tell us. It seems that getting the order in, and to hell with the personal circumstances of the customer are pro forma.

Quite frankly, I am beyond disgusted. I've heard nothing but negative accounts of Comet all day from people on Facebook and Twitter. If this situation is not resolved appropriately then I am most certainly not taking it lying down.

* EDIT *

After several days of tweeting, emailing, calling and Facebook strops I am thrilled to say that I've had a call from Comet's PR department to let me know they've pulled some strings at Belling and will have our oven by Friday (2 days from now). Once they've checked it over and are satisfied with it, they'll deliver it to us (should be early next week) and construction on the kitchen can continue.

Hopefully it will all be finished by the time Dave needs to go in for his knee operation, he's been amazing so far trying to work around the oven delay as much as possible. Like any good project manager I gave an allowance for delays on the job (only 3 days though, I'm a slave driver!) but hopefully we'll be able to reclaim the last week somehow.

Thank you to everyone for all of your support. I couldn't have done it without you!

Ziggy played guitarrrrrraaaaarrrrraaaarrrrrr.

Title: I pity the fool by David Bowie

She's not sure if you're a boy or a girl

I watched the Channel 4 documentary about Gemma Barker, a 15 girl who was supposedly insecure about losing her friends, and created 3 male alter egos in order to become their perfect boyfriends and ultimately seduce them.

Facebook accounts with no real friends, a series of pictures uploaded at the same time... one male alter ego who never spoke, but communicated by text message even in the presence of his "girlfriend" and all the male alter egos wore hats and hoods at all times.

Are 15 year old girls really so naive? So stupid?

And when it came to sex, they lost their virginity to a fully clothed girl brandishing a pink dildo and HAD NO IDEA.

It beggars belief it really does. Gemma barker was no criminal mastermind, she used no resources that any average teenager does not have access to, and she fooled these girls, close friends no less for around 6 months.

Its not so much that Gemma was smart, but that her victims were really, really not. Jessica, one of the victims was happy to disclose everything in the documentary, not batting an eyelid when asked incredulously about her willingly dating a boy she knew only via Facebook.

And after everything she went through with Gemma, after dating two of her male alter egos and being sexually attacked by both of them, what happened next? What did she learn?

Nothing. She met her next boyfriend on Facebook. But its ok... he said he was a boy and so did their mutual friends...

Its frightening it really is. Not content with pedophiles grooming young teens on Facebook, now other young teens are abusing their peers.

I hope that this is one extreme example, but its a chilling concept nontheless.

What struck me the most was that we have now seemingly entered a culture where sanity does not apply to personal safety online.

I began writing an online diary, on a members only site aged 16. I'm now 28 and I still write it, have made lifelong friends through the site - friends I've been on holiday with, invited to stay at my home, attend my wedding, I've been to their birthday parties, weddings, thrown them a baby shower, had some as tenants, lent some money, given career advice. I've even fixed them up with my friends.

Its safe to say that I have experience in meeting people online - after being privy to their innermost secrets and private thoughts, and these are more intimate relationships because of this level of trust.

Its possible! Take Twitter - I have around 1500 followers, around 800 who live in Leeds and in the last few years I've met many of them at various Tweetups and not once have I had cause for concern or had a negative experience.

But these are children. Teenagers. Inexperienced in relationships and clearly too trusting. Where were their parents? Why were they allowed to behave as they did?

What these girls experienced was ludicrous. An utter joke and it should not have happened.

Ziggy played guitarrrrrraaaaarrrrraaaarrrrrr.

Title: Rebel Rebel by David Bowie

A woman with a feeling, of losing once or twice

The way women are presented in the media sickens me.
Headless, fetishised body parts with no personality, agenda, opinions. Pure objectification.

And we’re numbed to it. We’re so used to the adverts, the celebrity features, to pornography saturating our culture in posters, magazines, on television, on the internet.

Magazines are filled with articles on how to increase our self esteem, yet filled with adverts for beauty products, surgical procedures and crash diets. On one page a celebrity is bewailed for being painfully thin, and on the next, a circle is drawn around another’s cellulite.

In this age of supposed equality, where women are world leaders, scientists, entrepreneurs, Nobel prize winners, journalists, authors – WHY DO WE STILL REDUCE THEM TO THEIR PHYSICALITY? THEIR GENDER? THEIR SEXUALITY?

Why is the size of their breasts, or the length of their legs, relevant? Why is their job title prefaced with their gender or sexuality?

They’re not a woman CEO, they’re a CEO. They’re not a Bisexual CEO, they’re a CEO.

Ziggy played guitarrrrrraaaaarrrrraaaarrrrrr.

Title: I've Been Waiting For You by David Bowie