08 April 2004

Ehm... NO!

Mo Mowlam has called on the British and American governments to open talks with Osama bin Laden and al Qaida around a negotiating table.

Mo, your recipe for Northen Ireland doesn't apply everywhere. Osama is probably dead and Al Quaida is not the IRA (hierarchical organisation), but a loose network! No, you can't negotiate not even if you wanted (which wouldn't lead you anywhere, at least now). The way forward is to increase police and intelligence cooperation, stop bombing places and changing regimes and increase EU development and governance work.

01 April 2004

The Mechanical Bride

I was reading today on an Italian newspaper that a recent survey suggests that 93% of women don't like themselves. They see themselves ugly, fat and tired. They are also uncomfortable with their sexuality. The first thing that came to my mind was the mechanical bride by Marshall McLuhan.
The Mechanical Bride refers to the sensation experienced by the sailor who's lost his way in the maelstrom. It was this sensation born of his rational detachment as a spectator of his own situation that gave him the thread which led him out of the labyrinth. For McLuhan the goals of the mechanical agencies are clear: manipulate, exploit, control in order to keep everyone in this helpless state by prolonged mental rutting.

I remember reading it when TV commercials started using the Tombraider character to sell tampons and so on. In the commercial, the computer-generated woman replaces the real woman so much that the real woman (A Jolie) had to look like her. I could probably write about this for many pages but to stick to the point of women's self-image, I find striking that we measure ourselves against what we see on TV, cinema and computers (images that are too often edited and changed). It might be because I have spent the past few weeks reading pretty much all Jane Austen's novels but it seems to me that beauty now is almost quantifiable. The length of your legs, the weight of your body etc. We forgot about countenance, education and manners. Although Austen's female characters are a bore (yes, Elizabeth Bennett too), since they are asked to be beautiful, be musical and draw, today's Mechanical Bride is even less. Yes, we've come a long way… but where? There's still discrimination, gendered violence and, above all, the choice between what 'society' decides you should be and what you want to be. My advice is stick to Jane Eyre!! :)