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Diane Abbott, MP, Shadow Health Minister: live webchat about British culture becoming 'increasingly pornified', Thursday 21st March, 1pm

(84 Posts)
MylinhMumsnet (MNHQ) Tue 19-Mar-13 14:41:54

Hello

We'll be welcoming Diane Abbott, Shadow Minister for Public Health and MP for Hackney North and Stoke Newington, for a webchat this Thursday 21 March, at 1pm.

Diane made history in 1987 by becoming the first black woman ever elected to the British Parliament. In May 2010 Diane was re-elected in her constituency and doubled her majority on an increased turnout, and in June 2010 she made the ballot for the next Labour leadership contest. She is a leading Labour politician and also has a distinguished career as a broadcaster and commentator.

Earlier this year, we read with interest Diane's comments about British culture being 'increasingly pornified' and damaging to young people. Diane has since told us that some of what Mumsnetters have said on the issue, especially in relation to our Let Girls Be Girls campaign, has been a big influence on her thinking.

Diane is interested in hearing your questions on this - and more - in relation to her role as both an MP and a Shadow Health Minister. Please join us on Thursday from 1pm and, as ever, feel free to post advance questions below.

Thanks
MNHQ

NayFindus Tue 19-Mar-13 16:30:53

I love you Diane! I so miss you on This Week, you're one of the few people brave enough to say what they actually think anymore. I hadn't really noticed before taking my young daughter down the local high street that there are posters of half naked women everywhere selling clothes, perfume etc and the gratuity of them genuinely shocks me. I don't want to have to stay at home because there's pictures of anorexic girls with no clothes on everywhere, but in a world where politicians are now in thrall to big business and simply ignore the voters, how can you or anybody else do anything about this?

ATouchOfStuffing Tue 19-Mar-13 20:20:53

Thank you Diane for actually tackling this issue. Us women are meant to have and do it all, as well as compete with porn stars and glamour models. Something has to give. I am sure you have seen this in the news recently, but I was wondering if a good starting place to make real women more of a feature in our towns would be to enforce a nationwide switch to these mannequins?
It is a small start but I think we need to highlight that women in porn/mags are not average and what women should 'aspire' to, and somehow become a failure if they don't comply. www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=500833883286263&set=a.360833590619627.72897.316489315054055&type=1&theater
No, I am not the page owner/creator, but A Mighty Girl is a very enlightening group on Facebook which might be worth taking a look at as well smile

I busted a gut to get my two DC's into the best school I could (a faith secondary in our city) - and have recently heard we were fortunate enough to get the place for DS to follow his sister.
I know you've faced criticism from some for sending your DS to the school you felt was best for him (private IIRC)
Do you have any comments on the school selection system and competition for places at the best schools ? I think you'll find many MNers will have some sympathy with your approach of doing your best for your son. How have things worked out for him ? Do you feel you made the right decision for you both ?

JeanBillie Wed 20-Mar-13 11:53:12

Thank you for drawing attention to this important subject. There's so much pressure on girls (and women) to behave a certain way, and even though my daughter is under 2, I worry about what lies ahead unless we do something about it.

On a less serious note, have you recovered from your Come Dine With Me Experience?grin

I think the main issue is raising awareness amongst parents of what is actually out there. I guess most adults hear the word "porn" and think of the magazines that boys used to hide under the bed when they were teenagers,or hidden behind a credit-card only wall on the internet.

But nowadays porn is pretty intense stuff - really hardcore videos (rape, anal, group sex, teen sex, BDSM) are available at the click of a button with no credit card required and many children knowledgeable enough on how to delete computer history. If parents were aware of this they might do more to lock down computers. We also need to ensure that parents are savvy enough to know how to lock computers down. We can't stop children hacking into stuff, but we can put up as many barriers as possible.

However, the bottom line is "Does the Government* care?" and "What is the Government* going to do to help stop this situation?"

Government = all parties *and Whitehall.

Bramshott Wed 20-Mar-13 12:39:55

I really worry about this - particularly that my DDs (now aged 6 & 10) will have very different early experiences with relationships and sex because porn is so 'normalised' now (see threads ad infinitem about removing pubic hair for example).

mems4 Wed 20-Mar-13 13:13:11

I would also like to thank you for speaking out on this issue. Is there a dialogue taking place between politicians within the main parties with regard to the hypersexualised culture many feel that young children and young adults are exposed to? Can you give us an idea of any specific measures you or the Labour Party would like to implement to curb this culture?
Best wishes from a mother of two daughters, aged 7 and 9.

mungotracy Wed 20-Mar-13 14:18:46

Message deleted by Mumsnet for breaking our webchat guidelines www.mumsnet.com/onlinechats/guidelines.

LineRunner Wed 20-Mar-13 16:07:19

Diane

I absolutely agree that pornification is happening and that it isbad for us all, and I say that as the mother of a teenage boy and a teenage girl. I think that it is a bit of a no-brainer to be honest.

But what can and will Parliament actually DO?

You only have to look at the hysterical and stalky pro-porn male trolls who come on MumsNet to see how determined they are to defend their 'rights' to objectify woman and girls.

CuttedUpPear Wed 20-Mar-13 16:19:32

Diane thank you for taking this cause up, I hope you stick with it too.
I'm going to leave the questions to the others but please accept my heartfelt gratitude that someone in office is taking this issue seriously.

SirChenjin Wed 20-Mar-13 17:21:11

I'm delighted that this is being raised again at Government level, but concerned that Diane's more controversial views on other issues might overshadow and diminish her ability to be taken seriously on the matter.

On the fence on this one.

moondog Wed 20-Mar-13 17:58:52

Message deleted by Mumsnet for breaking our webchat guidelines www.mumsnet.com/onlinechats/guidelines.

I feel as a family we can offer quite a good level of protection against the sexualisation of childhood and youth as it relates to our DC's. I have DD(14) and DS(11) and I'm hopeful they can have better journeys through the teenage years and into adulthood than I feel I did (we shall see !), through our greater awareness of issues and better more open communication with them, in spite of some negative changes there have been in society.

Basically, both at a family level, in terms of feminism, and in society as a whole I feel there have been some positive changes too. I'd say it's quite a mixed picture for our DC's entering their teenage years compared to our own experiences. Of course always frustrating that progress isn't faster, smoother, and always in a positive direction !

SirChenjin Wed 20-Mar-13 19:30:14

You put it much better than me Moondog grin

Creameggkr Wed 20-Mar-13 20:01:58

Diane thanks for raising this. I'm from Cheltenham and every race week the pubs a d clubs are allowed a special licence for strippers which I know creates the need for extra police resources to ensure the law is being followed.
However no extra resources are put in place to protect us females from the baying Neanderthal men who spill out of these places under the impression that all women are fair game.
Last Thursday I was verbally sexually abused in a chip shop at ten o'clock at night. I am no shrinking violet but was scared and extremely angry. I was threatened with sexual violence and then called names when I ignored them.
The girls in the chip shop said they'd suffered this all night as had other locals.
If councils are going to freely support the sex industry then surely they have an obligation to protect innocent bystanders from the back lash.
Verbal abuse of women needs to be treated seriously by society, police and the courts.

zwischenzug Wed 20-Mar-13 20:49:08

Is pornification a symptom of a society where white people have been playing divide and rule too much? Or is it because only black mothers are prepared to "go to the wall for their children" and white mothers aren't doing enough to combat it?

Maybe we can get Nick Griffin on next week to counterbalance Dianes views..

Darkesteyes Thu 21-Mar-13 02:10:03

Well said Creamegg.. I read your thread at the time but didnt comment.
Dianne when you have time please take a look at the ARRSE website and forum.

Thank you for speaking out on this and thank you for placing such a large emphasis on education for young people and their families.

However, please think very carefully about backing the opt-in porn filter. Listen to what the techy people are saying about the problems with it. Having read extensively around the issue, it's my belief that it won't work, it will end up being switched off in lots of homes when it blocks access to innocent content, leaving no protection at all. Far better to support parents to use the already existing web filters they can install for themselves for free and configure to different profiles.

What sort of things might it block PubeGardens, innocent content wise, couldn't it be improved so this was less of a problem ?

Pennykettle Thu 21-Mar-13 09:12:45

The police and the SS repeatedly fail to protect our children. The State fails as a parent yet seem more than keen to terrorise families for the slightest suspicion so that we all live in fear whilst, when an abuser is flagged up to the authorities they more often than not do nothing. What can you do about this? Can you cause the police to change or would you have to change everyone's attitudes individually? So would online porn be a place you could start, making porn sites have to be sought for rather than them spamming under an ordinary name?

MN for a start, with all its discussions around porn and bumsex and liberal use of the word 'fuck'. Then, more seriously, it's likely to block sex education sites, support sites for gay youngsters, breast cancer sites ...

There's a great post from one of the numerous and lengthy MN threads on this topic here which clearly outlines the problems with the proposal.

payphone Thu 21-Mar-13 10:14:10

Hi Diane.

Did you support the recent proposal by Stella Creasy and Amber Rudd that sex ed should be given a much higher priority in schools? I'm worried that the Department for Education seem determined to downgrade sex ed when really, our children need it more than ever in order to negotiate a world in which rather rigid (and sometimes worrying) templates of adult sexuality are presented very freely, very early.

plainbellysneetch Thu 21-Mar-13 10:21:56

Is it true that you actually went to school with Michael Portillo? If so, that's rather lovely - like childhood sweethearts wink

On which note, when are you coming back to This Week's sofa? I used to love watching you and Michael rolling your eyes flirtily at each other. Now it's all just... politics and that.

LauraB65 Thu 21-Mar-13 11:38:57

Hi Dianne! First of all I am a big fan! Recently I have heard lots of people saying the NHS is being privatised through the backdoor. Would you say this is true? And if so, are there any ways we can halt the conversion and save the NHS? Thanks!

LizzieCornish Thu 21-Mar-13 12:26:41

Whilst I fully agree with nearly all the concerns raised here, I'd like to add that often, it is parents themselves who are contributing to our children being surrounded by The Corporate Sex Industy. The Bratz Dolls have ONLY become popular because parents buy them. Woolworths, when still in every High St. in the UK, kept a vast range of Bratz items, everything from the dolls, so often dressed and posed like Hookers, to bed linen, school lunch boxes, videos, books etc...I went in one to our local store one day, picked up the most Sexually Suggestive Doll I could find, then took them to the counter where 2 young men were serving. (I'm 58 now, so *everyone seems young) :0) One of them was the manager. I went to him first and said: "Right, I'm very old now, with very different values, but please, hold nothing back, and just tell me what this doll is saying to you, as a man.." He looked a bit shocked, but then said "She's saying 'I'm up for it.." The other young chap said the same thing.

The manager looked at me and said "I've never looked at them in that way before!" I continued on..."Now, imagine that I have an appointment to see you, to show you my new selection of dolls...and you knew that I was also a convicted paedophile who was out of prison, trying to rebuild my life. I open my briefcase...and I take out my new range of Dolls For Little Girls. What you say then?" By this time, he was looking really angry.."I'd kick you from here to Kingdom Come!" he said....."EXACTLY!!" I said..Yet, there he was, in a store FILLED with such items, being Part Of The Problem.

As parents WE have the Greatest Power EVER to turn this all around..with what we buy, how we behave..For instance, if you are in your local supermarket and by the till there are the Men's Magazines, often with very sexual covers on, complain! Ask to see the manager, ask him WHY his company is putting such images where they KNOW small children will see them, and then ask if his company is part of a Paedophile Circle, saying you want them to contact you and sort this out..and..that you will refuse to shop there until these items are removed, also spreading the word to your friends...

It will put the fear of 'ohmygawd!' into them..Trust me, I've done it, I know iti works....but it will only work in the right way if ALL of us start standing up against this Tsunami of Dodgyiness....which so many have come to accept as 'normal'....It is NOT normal. It is deeply worrying, hugely concerning and the DANGER is that so many generations HAVE already been 'groomed' to accept, that they see no wrong there at all...

Your children ARE being groomed and it is being done deliberately.

Also, CHECK OUT the Sex Education in your children's schools, both Primary and Secondary. You may well be horrified to learn what your children are being taught..and if again, you view these lessons being brought in by some who have a very different agenda to yours, you will start to shake in your shoes a little.

Most parents do NOT take an interest...leaving it to the schools. Do NOT leave it to ANYONE but YOU, for they are YOUR children. They do not have to attend sex education, but obviously, other children will and word will be passed around. But if there is anything that concerns you, take it up with your school. Do NOT be afraid to Stand Out and to Stand Up..because it is the normal way now NOT to cause a fuss, but to simply allow what is happening to continue on...

And don't even get me started on the Child Abuse of Mothers being deliberately separated from their children, by Crazy Politicians and Corporate Sociopaths who want ALL women OUT WORKING, so they can collect double the taxes and double the income from folks who have been brainwashed into Materialism being the shrine at which they worship...The National Child Abuse in this country is appalling and if politicians think it's right for our children to be raised by Strangers & The State, rather than having their Mothers at home 24/7, creating a warm, loving, safe home for their children, whilst also BEING that BIG SOCIETY we here so much about, then they are even more insane and disconnected than I already feel they are....

MOTHERS are the Backbone of a Health Society and it is the Natural Law that they should be with their children, to raise them to be responsible, kind and loving adults. With Mothers home, the houses are filled, the streets are watched over again, strangers are noticed and children kept far safer...

Those who seek to divide families do it for Ulterior Motives.
Do NOT let them do this...

ONLY in all Mothers coming together, can this be turned around, can RESPECT be given BACK to Motherhood.
At present, we have a leader who left his own child in the pub, as did his wife, when they both went home. There is NO excuse for this whatsoever, other than appalling parenting.

Our 'leader' is also the product of the British Boarding School, where children are separated from their parents at age 7...Is it ANY wonder that he has no thought or concern for Stay At Home Mothers?

Motherhood is WORK in itself, and it is the most important job in the world!.

If this country PAID Mothers to stay at home, it would revolutionize us a Nation...also freeing up many, many more jobs.

Obviously, I know there are bad Mothers out there and I recognize there are also many Fathers who are sometimes better at relating to their children than their partners are. I do NOT mean to belittle Fathers, for they play a hugely important role in their children's lives, but we women are the ones who bring our children into this world, and they are being stolen from us at an earlier and earlier age, by this terrible System which indoctrinates young women into believing you have a baby, give it 6 months of YOU, then farm it out to Nurseries or Child Minders....This is NOT normal, folks, it truly is NOT.

We are not put on this Earth to work until we drop.

The entire System is imploding and Mothers need to come together to become The Strongest Force this country has EVER seen, uniting to say "ENOUGH!"...and in doing so, stopping this Out Of Control Insanity.

jmcintosh Thu 21-Mar-13 12:52:45

Diane, how would you justify your failure to oppose the workfare bill to Cait Reilly and Jamieson Wilson?

DianeAbbottMP Thu 21-Mar-13 12:56:13

Hello everyone. Diane here. I'm pleased to be back at Mumsnet – which I now consider to be my spiritual internet home. I’m going to be answering as many questions as I can. But before I do, I just want to say thank you to Mumsnet for the work you did on the Let Girls Be Girls campaign. It’s become an important part of my thinking and I hope that came across in the speech I made on the 'pornification' of British culture.

DianeAbbottMP Thu 21-Mar-13 13:02:48

NayFindus

I love you Diane! I so miss you on This Week, you're one of the few people brave enough to say what they actually think anymore. I hadn't really noticed before taking my young daughter down the local high street that there are posters of half naked women everywhere selling clothes, perfume etc and the gratuity of them genuinely shocks me. I don't want to have to stay at home because there's pictures of anorexic girls with no clothes on everywhere, but in a world where politicians are now in thrall to big business and simply ignore the voters, how can you or anybody else do anything about this?

Yes, I think it has reached a point where we need to detox our high-streets, and make Britain a family-friendly country again. I think what we’ve seen is the market dictating to people the standards that everyone lives by, and defining our civic space. I think we need to clear our public spaces of worst elements of unrestrained markets – including addressing music videos that blare out at us, and our children; the online bullying including problems around ‘sexting’ and ‘slut-shaming’; the huge billboards that have very sexualised images of women that loom over our public spaces, and the sexualised figures of women in films that are now commonplace. For me the key, is putting parents back in control, and also putting open-minded family values back in our public spaces

Xenia Thu 21-Mar-13 13:05:46

It is very important to let girls be girls and that includes bringing them up in a gender neutral way, showing them examples of women women with successful full time careers and happy family lives and show them that at home men do as much as women in terms of childcare and cleaning.

I as a child and my daughters as children (older ones are now grown up) read feminist and gender neutral books. We played in fields. My girls rode horses. They went to leading private girls' day secondary schools. They saw their mother climbing trees, enjoying many gender neutral activities.

I am a right wing free market libertarian so pretty much against banning most things but I do think we need to ensure women re-embrace feminism, that parents (it is men as much as women who buy children's clothes in feminist homes) buy gender neutral clothes. If there were no one buying unsuitable clothes they would not be made.

Above all we need personal responsibility, rather than the blame culture and nanny state on these issues.

I am not sure I have a question after all that....

DianeAbbottMP Thu 21-Mar-13 13:06:04

ATouchOfStuffing

Thank you Diane for actually tackling this issue. Us women are meant to have and do it all, as well as compete with porn stars and glamour models. Something has to give. I am sure you have seen this in the news recently, but I was wondering if a good starting place to make real women more of a feature in our towns would be to enforce a nationwide switch to these mannequins?
It is a small start but I think we need to highlight that women in porn/mags are not average and what women should 'aspire' to, and somehow become a failure if they don't comply. www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=500833883286263&set=a.360833590619627.72897.316489315054055&type=1&theater
No, I am not the page owner/creator, but A Mighty Girl is a very enlightening group on Facebook which might be worth taking a look at as well smile

I was interested to see the coverage of “normal –sized” mannequins. We are so used to excessively thin models and mannequins it was fascinating to see the sensation they caused.

coppertop Thu 21-Mar-13 13:07:00

My question is about magazine covers being on display at child height, despite having pictures on the front that aren't at all appropriate for children.

Our post office, like many others, is situated inside a newsagents shop. The queue for it is alongside the magazines section. During the school holidays I have to take my children with me.

At their eye-level were the usual 'lads' magazines, with covers that wouldn't have been out of place on the front cover of a porn magazine. These weren't the only culprits, so it seems that this type of cover is becoming increasingly 'mainstream'.

The porn magazines on sale were hidden by covers, so why are magazines with similar covers still allowed on display in places where they can be easily seen by young children?

AnnabelKarma Thu 21-Mar-13 13:08:20

Hi Dianne, I am not on the same political side as you but I am 100% in support of your campaign and agree entirely with your viewpoints. I have daughters ( and sons) and am becoming increasingly worried by the sexualisation of young teens and the way in which the sexes are more segregated in some ways than they were twenty years ago. As a teen I wore DM's , jeans, big sweaters and it seems to me that young women are dressing in an extremely revealing and overtly sexual way now. Not to mention body hair issues which stem directly from the porn industry.

Jemifer Thu 21-Mar-13 13:08:37

Hi Dianne, Have you seen the new Weetabix sibling rivalry advertisement? If so, do you think we need to be doing more to stop gender stereotyping in our media/advertising?

Bridgetbidet Thu 21-Mar-13 13:09:41

What's the point in calling for the 'depornification' of mass culture when these days real porn is available at the click of a button?

What is your own personal and the Labour parties position on creating an 'opt in' system for porn in the UK in order to prevent pornography being easily available to children?

Bridgetbidet Thu 21-Mar-13 13:09:57

Internet porn, I mean.

cm22v077 Thu 21-Mar-13 13:10:18

Hi Dianne, thanks for coming on to Mumsnet. As a successful woman yourself, who are your female role models?

DianeAbbottMP Thu 21-Mar-13 13:10:23

JugglingFromHereToThere

I busted a gut to get my two DC's into the best school I could (a faith secondary in our city) - and have recently heard we were fortunate enough to get the place for DS to follow his sister.
I know you've faced criticism from some for sending your DS to the school you felt was best for him (private IIRC)
Do you have any comments on the school selection system and competition for places at the best schools ? I think you'll find many MNers will have some sympathy with your approach of doing your best for your son. How have things worked out for him ? Do you feel you made the right decision for you both ?

Like most people I found secondary transfer a very difficult and traumatic time. I got masses of criticism for the decision I took for my DC. I had to choose between my career and my son. I chose my son. But it worked out. He did five years at the brilliant City of London school, two years studying for his International Baccalaureate in Ghana and is now in his final year studying law at a Russell Group university.

UnsureOfOutcome Thu 21-Mar-13 13:10:43

Hey Diane, can I ask what your priorities are as shadow health minister? What would you do differently in terms of the NHS? I live in Lewisham and was on the march recently to save our A&E so it's a matter very close to my heart.

Can you explain a bit about how Labour would handle NHS funding and the problems around the burden the service is under? Where do you see the NHS in 20 years' time - what state will it be in? I'm terrified we'll end up going down an american-style healthcare route ...

DianeAbbottMP Thu 21-Mar-13 13:13:42

JeanBillie

Thank you for drawing attention to this important subject. There's so much pressure on girls (and women) to behave a certain way, and even though my daughter is under 2, I worry about what lies ahead unless we do something about it.

On a less serious note, have you recovered from your Come Dine With Me Experience?grin

I have recovered from doing Come Dine With Me. I am not a dinner party cook. (Never have the time for dinner parties) But it is one of my favourite shows and I thought it would be fun. And it was!

EmpressOfTheSevenOceans Thu 21-Mar-13 13:15:28

As the white mother of a black 12-year-old girl, I was both furious and devastated when she experienced her first racist incident recently (a comment on her "fat black face"). She's beautiful but she's already learning that beauty = white & size 6.

Could you give me any advice on helping her to feel confident about her own body and to deal with racism in general since I doubt this will be the last time it happens? sad

Thank you.

Jules26 Thu 21-Mar-13 13:15:48

Hi Dianne,

I know you think that PSHE and SRE are really important aspects of protecting young people and have called for it to be made compulsory. The minister Liz Truss has just given a statement announcing the results of the PSHE review saying that it won't be which feels like a really pathetic decision. What can we do to get government and ALL schools to commit to decent sex and relationships education?

DianeAbbottMP Thu 21-Mar-13 13:16:32

worldgonecrazy

I think the main issue is raising awareness amongst parents of what is actually out there. I guess most adults hear the word "porn" and think of the magazines that boys used to hide under the bed when they were teenagers,or hidden behind a credit-card only wall on the internet.

But nowadays porn is pretty intense stuff - really hardcore videos (rape, anal, group sex, teen sex, BDSM) are available at the click of a button with no credit card required and many children knowledgeable enough on how to delete computer history. If parents were aware of this they might do more to lock down computers. We also need to ensure that parents are savvy enough to know how to lock computers down. We can't stop children hacking into stuff, but we can put up as many barriers as possible.

However, the bottom line is "Does the Government* care?" and "What is the Government* going to do to help stop this situation?"

Government = all parties *and Whitehall.

Your first point is really important. Most adults think that porn is just girls
with naked breasts. But actually the stuff children can access nowadays is, as you say, hardcore. And the average age of boys accessing pornography has dropped from eleven to eight. I do not think sex is sordid and shameful. And I do not believe that is the view of the British public. But I think it’s a very specific form of sexuality that’s being imposed, on children and adults: a porn version. It’s particularly damaging to young girls, in my view. And this has been made worse by fast-developing technology.

I think this culture tells girls in particular that they are only valued as a sex object. It tells girls that the most important quality they need is 'sexiness'. But I also believe there are things we can do to change this. We need a complete transformation of sex education in this country. We need to parents to talk to their children about these issues. And there are also simple things that could empower parents, like making sure internet users have to make an active choice over whether they allow adult content or not. And yet, the government has blocked this plan.

DianeAbbottMP Thu 21-Mar-13 13:16:38

Bridgetbidet

What's the point in calling for the 'depornification' of mass culture when these days real porn is available at the click of a button?

What is your own personal and the Labour parties position on creating an 'opt in' system for porn in the UK in order to prevent pornography being easily available to children?

I definitely support an opt-in system. But the Coalition government appears to be backing away from this. Pressure from Google etc.

strangerwithmyface Thu 21-Mar-13 13:16:57

Hi Diane, I love watching you discuss the day's issues on This Week. I have two questions.

Do you think we ask too much of schools when it comes to sex education? We expect them to introduce children to sexual health, their sexual rights, and now, to counter-balance a misogynistic, hyper-sexualised society. Surely some of these responsibilities should fall within the remit of parents, the media, politicians, etc... And their solution shouldn't be - we'll add it to the curriculum.

Secondly - what are you reading at the moment?

NayFindus Thu 21-Mar-13 13:17:51

Yes, I think it has reached a point where we need to detox our high-streets, and make Britain a family-friendly country again. I think what we’ve seen is the market dictating to people the standards that everyone lives by, and defining our civic space. I think we need to clear our public spaces of worst elements of unrestrained markets – including addressing music videos that blare out at us, and our children; the online bullying including problems around ‘sexting’ and ‘slut-shaming’; the huge billboards

Yes! The billboards are awful - and there's no escaping them. We no longer have a TV so we don't have adverts on in front of little one, but the billboards are designed to shock to get a reaction. How do we stop that then? When I was pregnant (and a hormonal mess obviously) there was a horrible advert for The Exorcist on a phone box I passed regularly showing a hounded female figure clinging to the corner of the ceiling. It made me physically sick. But what can we do? By the time complaints are heard the damage has been done and the advert has got what it wanted, a big fuss. How can we change it so these things don't appear in the first place?

MorphsMum Thu 21-Mar-13 13:17:53

Hello Diane,
I may be too late with my question but here goes:
I met you once at a Stonewall Event! One thing I think is positive is that there is much more tolerance of people being gay these days which must help children who grow up feeling they are/might be gay.
I'd love to see a situation where a gay adult, obviously someone trustworthy and sound, goes into every school to talk to the kids about what is like growing up gay - if they faced discrimination, how it was dealt with etc.
Would this be something you would feel able to support?
Thanks...

DianeAbbottMP Thu 21-Mar-13 13:18:51

Jules26

Hi Dianne,

I know you think that PSHE and SRE are really important aspects of protecting young people and have called for it to be made compulsory. The minister Liz Truss has just given a statement announcing the results of the PSHE review saying that it won't be which feels like a really pathetic decision. What can we do to get government and ALL schools to commit to decent sex and relationships education?

I think that government's position on this is really disappointing. Good sex and relationships education is at the heart of protecting young people. Mumsnetters have to keep up the pressure!

DianeAbbottMP Thu 21-Mar-13 13:20:05

Bramshott

I really worry about this - particularly that my DDs (now aged 6 & 10) will have very different early experiences with relationships and sex because porn is so 'normalised' now (see threads ad infinitem about removing pubic hair for example).

Yes, I think there are many people out there who share your concerns. I think parents and teachers have a duty to ensure that children develop a healthy view of sexuality. I’m worried that sexuality is becoming commodified, in many ways. Clearly, there’s something wrong with a society when many young girls of all classes are pressurised into exposing themselves online, and are then humiliated. And I think it’s very strange if we’re normalising children sexting each other.

DianeAbbottMP Thu 21-Mar-13 13:21:50

MorphsMum

Hello Diane,
I may be too late with my question but here goes:
I met you once at a Stonewall Event! One thing I think is positive is that there is much more tolerance of people being gay these days which must help children who grow up feeling they are/might be gay.
I'd love to see a situation where a gay adult, obviously someone trustworthy and sound, goes into every school to talk to the kids about what is like growing up gay - if they faced discrimination, how it was dealt with etc.

Would this be something you would feel able to support?
Thanks...

i find the casual homophobia that you find amongst school-age children really distressing. It causes real anxiety to young people trying to find themselves sexually and often accompanies vicious bullying. I would support a programme in schools like the one you are suggesting. And i believe that Stonewall has begun just such a program.

AnnabelKarma Thu 21-Mar-13 13:23:38

Agreed Diane. What do you think of the prevailing culture of gender specific toys/clothes/activities? I find that many parents seem to support the whole pink thing without even realising what they are doing could have a negative impact on their girls.

DianeAbbottMP Thu 21-Mar-13 13:25:50

LineRunner

Diane

I absolutely agree that pornification is happening and that it isbad for us all, and I say that as the mother of a teenage boy and a teenage girl. I think that it is a bit of a no-brainer to be honest.

But what can and will Parliament actually DO?

You only have to look at the hysterical and stalky pro-porn male trolls who come on MumsNet to see how determined they are to defend their 'rights' to objectify woman and girls.

I’m really concerned by the way that online bullying has become so fashionable. It’s a very strange, disturbing and sad cultural development.
On the point you’re making, I think there’s lots we can do. I think we’re often told that ‘the world has changed’ and there’s nothing we can do, but there are plenty of things, without going out and making people feel that sex is wrong and shameful. We need to talk about these issues more for a start.
However, I just wanted to make a point about men. Because I think many men and young boys aren’t happy this culture either. In fact, my next speech is going to be about masculinity, and what I see as a crisis of masculinity in this country.

MorphsMum Thu 21-Mar-13 13:26:07

Thanks Diane, I didn't know Stonewall had already set up a programme, that is brilliant.

dizzydori Thu 21-Mar-13 13:27:49

Hi Diane,
My MA dissertation topic is pornification of culture and young people. I will be mainly concentrating on teenagers age 16 and over. I know the Bailey Review, EVAW, Mumsnet and the Papadopoulos Report all concentrated on this topic. Sexualisation is endemic in our society, thanks for highlighting this topic again. I hope we as parents and a society can change this.

FrenchyM Thu 21-Mar-13 13:30:32

Hi,
Appreciate the concern parents must have about their children seeing things that we might not have seen when we were their age but truth is, there is no conclusive evidence that online pornography has an impact on young people's sexual behaviour. I was wondering what Diane thinks about calls to not let our fears run away with us before we know exactly how porn/sexual images are impacting on young people?

I know resilient kids who are able to cope perfectly fine with the images they see and it doesn't effect their esteem or sexual behaviour.

Just a thought!

DianeAbbottMP Thu 21-Mar-13 13:30:35

AnnabelKarma

Agreed Diane. What do you think of the prevailing culture of gender specific toys/clothes/activities? I find that many parents seem to support the whole pink thing without even realising what they are doing could have a negative impact on their girls.

I really admire activists who fight against gender specific toys/activities/clothes etc. I seem to remember that the big toy shop Hamleys used to have a whole (very pink) floor for girls, until people challenged them. But I have to admit, as the single mother of a boy, that when he was a toddler he developed a passion for books about aeroplanes and cars all on his own!

Lucie09876 Thu 21-Mar-13 13:31:39

Hi Diane! Hackney resident and proud <parades tshirt>
I read your comments in the Citizen about how the horsemeat scandal has affected poorer income families disproportionately and how Hackney is one of those poorer boroughs. While you challenged the gov to tackle food packaging and illegal sourcing, have you personally done anything to reassure constituents? Has there been much of an outcry or concerns raised from Hackneyites?

DianeAbbottMP Thu 21-Mar-13 13:33:01

Creameggkr

Diane thanks for raising this. I'm from Cheltenham and every race week the pubs a d clubs are allowed a special licence for strippers which I know creates the need for extra police resources to ensure the law is being followed.
However no extra resources are put in place to protect us females from the baying Neanderthal men who spill out of these places under the impression that all women are fair game.
Last Thursday I was verbally sexually abused in a chip shop at ten o'clock at night. I am no shrinking violet but was scared and extremely angry. I was threatened with sexual violence and then called names when I ignored them.
The girls in the chip shop said they'd suffered this all night as had other locals.
If councils are going to freely support the sex industry then surely they have an obligation to protect innocent bystanders from the back lash.
Verbal abuse of women needs to be treated seriously by society, police and the courts.

Hi creamegg. I’m sorry to hear about your experience. It sounds all too familiar. The NUS published a great piece of research recently. It didn’t get the coverage it perhaps deserved. It was about ‘lad culture’ and outlined this culture of harassment in universities, and how students feel about this.
We need to work towards creating a society in which young people and adults can navigate their sexualities without risk of shame, harassment or violence.
I think we have a culture now where sexuality, and women, have become commodified. And one of the problems between this blurring between sex and the marketplace, and the pornification of British culture, is this myth of women's unconditional sexual availability and object status.
One of the basic things we can do is transforming sex education for boys and girls. Yet the government has blocked any movement on legislation to introduce compulsory sex and relationship education with zero tolerance of violence in schools for three years now.

DianeAbbottMP Thu 21-Mar-13 13:36:16

FrenchyM

Hi,
Appreciate the concern parents must have about their children seeing things that we might not have seen when we were their age but truth is, there is no conclusive evidence that online pornography has an impact on young people's sexual behaviour. I was wondering what Diane thinks about calls to not let our fears run away with us before we know exactly how porn/sexual images are impacting on young people?

I know resilient kids who are able to cope perfectly fine with the images they see and it doesn't effect their esteem or sexual behaviour.

Just a thought!

Let me stress that I am not anti-sex! and most young people are quite resilient. But the extreme nature of the things children can view is worrying, as is "sexting" and sexual bullying. And the permanence of social media is an entirely new phenomenon. Texting a photograph of your naked breast to a boy when you are 12 may seem like a joke. But it is not so funny when the pictures haunt you years later. I also believe that the pervasive sexualisation of the culture can erode women and girls self esteem.

DianeAbbottMP Thu 21-Mar-13 13:39:56

payphone

Hi Diane.

Did you support the recent proposal by Stella Creasy and Amber Rudd that sex ed should be given a much higher priority in schools? I'm worried that the Department for Education seem determined to downgrade sex ed when really, our children need it more than ever in order to negotiate a world in which rather rigid (and sometimes worrying) templates of adult sexuality are presented very freely, very early.

Actually I was calling for a revolution in sex ed before Stella Creasy and Amber Rudd. But i am glad that they are supporting this campaign. The more people campaigning on this issue the better. The way this government has turned its back on sex education is relly concerning.

We need much more must focus on preparing young people to form healthy, respectful, emotionally fulfilling relationships, and also deal with issues of self-esteem.
I agree exactly with what you’ve said. We need to empower our young people to navigate their sexuality in a healthy, confident way, in a world that I think has become pornified, market-driven and hostile to many aspects of female sexuality.

Teachercreature Thu 21-Mar-13 13:40:13

I agree there are some major issues facing teenagers. Although I think it's good that issues such as exposure to porn is being dealt with, what about things like music videos and teen magazines? Or scenes in daytime programmes like Hollyoaks? Even if you remove obvious problem areas children are still facing overly-sexualised images. Given that this can happen well before sex education, children can end up confused and with conflicting messages. How will this be tackled?

Pennykettle Thu 21-Mar-13 13:42:17

Frenchym - you know of kids who are watching porn and obviously that's fine by you (are you supply it? Watching it with them?) so how would you know if they are negatively affected if the 'joys' of porn are just dandy as far as you're concerned? Plus the fact that not all kids are the same.

We shouldn't forget that we are a bunch of primates living on a rock: monkey see, monkey do.

Pennykettle Thu 21-Mar-13 13:42:19

Frenchym - you know of kids who are watching porn and obviously that's fine by you (are you supply it? Watching it with them?) so how would you know if they are negatively affected if the 'joys' of porn are just dandy as far as you're concerned? Plus the fact that not all kids are the same.

We shouldn't forget that we are a bunch of primates living on a rock: monkey see, monkey do.

DianeAbbottMP Thu 21-Mar-13 13:47:49

jmcintosh

Diane, how would you justify your failure to oppose the workfare bill to Cait Reilly and Jamieson Wilson?

Our spokesperson on these issues Liam Byrne explains his position as follows

TheOriginalLadyFT Thu 21-Mar-13 13:48:38

While I agree extreme porn and the easy access to it is a serious issue, I'd like to see us challenge what has become a 'norm' - for example, page 3 and the use of sexualised images of women to sell anything from computer programmes to off road bikes.

What do you think the chances are of us starting small and banning page 3? I have a son, and it worries me that he is swimming against the tide constantly to grown up viewing women as equal when all the time he sees them as somehow lesser because of this sexualisation

Xenia Thu 21-Mar-13 13:49:06

There are risks to girls from two sides - the objectification issues above but also the no go Muslim areas in London and elsewhere trying to prevent women who aren't covered from being out and about. We want women to be free to be sexy once they are old enough and choose to be so and not feel they have to dress modestly or cover up or be housewives.

LineRunner Thu 21-Mar-13 13:50:17

Diane

Thanks for your answer.

If you are going to address masculinity, I hope you will be able to explore the point that the current issues facing boys (white British and black) are the result of constructions of masculinity and are not caused by feminism.

DianeAbbottMP Thu 21-Mar-13 13:52:26

Lucie09876

Hi Diane! Hackney resident and proud <parades tshirt>
I read your comments in the Citizen about how the horsemeat scandal has affected poorer income families disproportionately and how Hackney is one of those poorer boroughs. While you challenged the gov to tackle food packaging and illegal sourcing, have you personally done anything to reassure constituents? Has there been much of an outcry or concerns raised from Hackneyites?

In fact not many constituents have raised the horsemeat scandal with me. But I feel strongly it the very poorest families that end up buying this meat of dubious provenance and that I have a responsibility to speak up for them. I am meeting with retailers to find out more about where they source their food. This week I met with Waitrose who were relatively reassuring.

eggsandham Thu 21-Mar-13 13:52:54

Hi Diane. Thanks for coming on here. I read somewhere that you were thinking of running for London Mayor. Is that true?

DianeAbbottMP Thu 21-Mar-13 13:53:52

LineRunner

Diane

Thanks for your answer.

If you are going to address masculinity, I hope you will be able to explore the point that the current issues facing boys (white British and black) are the result of constructions of masculinity and are not caused by feminism.

Absolutely. One reason i am anxious to make a big speech about men, boys and male identity is to nail the lie that feminism is somehow the cause of the problem.

DianeAbbottMP Thu 21-Mar-13 13:58:35

strangerwithmyface

Hi Diane, I love watching you discuss the day's issues on This Week. I have two questions.

Do you think we ask too much of schools when it comes to sex education? We expect them to introduce children to sexual health, their sexual rights, and now, to counter-balance a misogynistic, hyper-sexualised society. Surely some of these responsibilities should fall within the remit of parents, the media, politicians, etc... And their solution shouldn't be - we'll add it to the curriculum.

Secondly - what are you reading at the moment?

I saw the brilliant Stephen Spielberg film about the US president Abraham Lincoln. So I am currently re-reading "Team of Rivals" by Doris Kearns which is all about Lincoln and is one of Barack Obama's favourite books.

FrenchyM Thu 21-Mar-13 14:01:26

Hi - should clarify. When I said 'kids' I meant young people in their mid teens. Apologies, should have been been clearer. Certainly not supplying porn to children!!!

I know a young person who watches porn because I have discussed it with them not because I have supplied it or watched it with them. I believe if we open up discussions rather than trying to stop them watching it's much more useful for both parties.

jmcintosh Thu 21-Mar-13 14:01:48

Diane, thanks for your answer. Unfortunately, Liam Byrne's explanation of his position in no way explains why, by abstaining from voting against the bill, you have helped the government avoid repayment of benefits that were illegally withheld. Shameful.

DianeAbbottMP Thu 21-Mar-13 14:02:52

EmpressOfTheSevenOceans

As the white mother of a black 12-year-old girl, I was both furious and devastated when she experienced her first racist incident recently (a comment on her "fat black face"). She's beautiful but she's already learning that beauty = white & size 6.

Could you give me any advice on helping her to feel confident about her own body and to deal with racism in general since I doubt this will be the last time it happens? sad

Thank you.

Young black girls sometimes have problem with self-esteem when so many popular culture role models are blonde and a size 6. I would encourage her to go online and learn about people like Michelle Obama who is a brilliant role model and a normal sized black woman. There are a couple of websites devoted to her. You should also encourage her to read about black history and culture. It helped me!

DianeAbbottMP Thu 21-Mar-13 14:07:10

plainbellysneetch

Is it true that you actually went to school with Michael Portillo? If so, that's rather lovely - like childhood sweethearts wink

On which note, when are you coming back to This Week's sofa? I used to love watching you and Michael rolling your eyes flirtily at each other. Now it's all just... politics and that.

I went to Harrow County Grammar School for Girls. And he went to Harrow County Grammar School for Boys and there was lots of joint sixth form activity (!) It was great working alongside him on This Week. We definitely seemed to have a bond. His mum told me once that she loved the programme because I put Michael in his place!

Xenia Thu 21-Mar-13 14:07:26

Yes, good role model (Mrs Obama) and she was a lawyer as was Hilary Clinton (although a pity she gave up work rather than it were Mrs Obama running not Mr - hope the time will come). We need to change things so that the Prime Minster and Chancellor in a year or two are both female and that the US president is a woman. We have a very long way to go in terms of women obtaining at least 50% of positions of power which is power many of us want and have no interest in power behind the throne - men can have that power behind the throne if they think it is so much fun.

LineRunner Thu 21-Mar-13 14:07:48

Diane

I'm glad you'll be seeking to un-blame feminism. The problems of masculinity are more rightly to be blamed on pornification within competitive capitalism, I reckon.

Thanks for coming on MN.

LineRunner Thu 21-Mar-13 14:08:55

Xenia

I'm still hoping for President H Rodham Clinton.

DianeAbbottMP Thu 21-Mar-13 14:10:15

eggsandham

Hi Diane. Thanks for coming on here. I read somewhere that you were thinking of running for London Mayor. Is that true?

I am not ruling it in or out smile

DianeAbbottMP Thu 21-Mar-13 14:11:37

Thank you all for taking part in the conversation. I have really enjoyed it. Good bye and wrap up warm for the week-end!
Diane

Pennykettle Thu 21-Mar-13 14:17:37

Frenchym Thanks for clarification, I have a 10yr old and wd be horrified if DC watching hardcore porn. With you completely on the discussion point. It's very important, I think, for our children to feel they can talk to us about anything.

elkiedee Thu 21-Mar-13 15:48:44

thread marking post so I can find the thread, sorry I missed it but it's our regular outing to the Children's Centre at that time on Thursdays

MylinhMumsnet (MNHQ) Thu 21-Mar-13 15:57:42

Hi everyone - a big thanks to all for taking part. Diane enjoyed answering your questions, so much so that she's emailed us this additional response.

UnsureOfOutcome

Hey Diane, can I ask what your priorities are as shadow health minister? What would you do differently in terms of the NHS? I live in Lewisham and was on the march recently to save our A&E so it's a matter very close to my heart.

Can you explain a bit about how Labour would handle NHS funding and the problems around the burden the service is under? Where do you see the NHS in 20 years' time - what state will it be in? I'm terrified we'll end up going down an american-style healthcare route ...

I think what the government is doing to our NHS is a tragedy. NHS staff are battling with an expensive, ideological and unwanted reorganisation. We're seeing the budget being cut, clinical staff being axed and real pressure on patient care. I think many people are regretting ever letting the Tories anywhere near our NHS. I want to say clearly that Labour will repeal the legislation of the government's NHS reorganisation. We will support the NHS, make reconfigurations where we need to, and restore its founding principles.

Thanks for answering my slightly tricky, but basically sympathetic, schools choice question. Am glad to hear things are going well for your son. Wondering slightly which RG he's at, as I went to Bristol and then Exeter for PGCE.
< stealth boast wink >

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