Are you a sexist birder?

Female birds too often overlooked for no good reason, traditionally getting less attention in guide books.

By Jim Williams

Are you a sexist birder?

Do you favor male birds, preferring bright masculine colors?

Are your female ID skills weak? Do you slide past female birds because, well, they are harder to identify?

You’re not alone. Birding is rife with sexism. It’s what we’ve been taught by books and science, whether we knew it was happening or not.

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The 200-year-old diary that’s rewriting gay history

A Yorkshire farmer’s journal from 1810 reveals surprisingly modern views on being gay.

Historians from Oxford University have been taken aback to discover that Matthew Tomlinson’s diary from 1810 contains such open-minded views about same-sex attraction being a “natural” human tendency.

The diary challenges preconceptions about what “ordinary people” thought about homosexuality – showing there was a debate about whether someone really should be discriminated against for their sexuality.

“In this exciting new discovery, we see a Yorkshire farmer arguing that homosexuality is innate and something that shouldn’t be punished by death,” says Oxford researcher Eamonn O’Keeffe.

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Church sorry for saying that sex is just for married heterosexuals

Church of England archbishops acknowledge pastoral guidance ‘jeopardised trust’

The archbishops of Canterbury and York have apologised over a statement issued by Church of England bishops last week which declared that only married heterosexuals should have sex.

Justin Welby and John Sentamu said they took responsibility for releasing the statement which “jeopardised trust”. They added: “We are very sorry and recognise the division and hurt this has caused.”

The archbishops’ statement did not retract the substance of the “pastoral guidance” issued by the bishops, but implied it should not have been issued while the C of E is in the midst of a review of its teaching on sexuality and marriage.

The guidance said “sexual relationships outside heterosexual marriage are regarded as falling short of God’s purpose for human beings”, and that people in gay or straight civil partnerships should be sexually abstinent.

The guidance was prompted by the introduction of opposite sex civil partnerships. The C of E’s sexuality review, Living in Love and Faith, is due to report on its findings later this year.

The archbishops’ statement said: “We as archbishops, alongside the bishops of the Church of England, apologise and Continue reading

No sex please we’re British: exploring On Chesil Beach’s chaste state of mind

Interesting piece in The Guardian today about British Cinema’s sexual repression tendencies. – Johnny Foreigner

Repressed, stiff-upper-lipped Englishness is en vogue again. But should we be encouraging it?

“They were young, educated, and both virgins on this, their wedding night, and they lived in a time when a conversation about sexual difficulties was plainly impossible.” Ian McEwan’s 2007 novel On Chesil Beach sets out a familiar stall in its opening lines. The story revolves around a fateful night of non-consummation between newlyweds, played in the new movie adaptation by Billy Howle and Saoirse Ronan. We have seen their condition many times before: it’s called Englishness. It begins with a stiffness of the upper lip but soon extends to the entire host organism [ . . . ]

Continue at THE GUARDIAN: No sex please we’re British: exploring On Chesil Beach’s chaste state of mind | Film | The Guardian

Was George Orwell just a dirty old man?

George Orwell
George Orwell

CRAIG BROWN: In our contemporary climate, would George Orwell be allowed a platform to speak up about anything?

A week or two ago, I pointed out that Brexiteers and Remainers alike are convinced that if George Orwell were alive today he would be firmly on their side.

This raises another question. In our contemporary climate, would George Orwell be allowed a platform to speak up about anything?

In America, the wonderful comic writer Garrison Keillor has been silenced following allegations of improper conduct. The long-running radio show he created has been given a new name and old episodes are no longer being repeated; his weekly newspaper column has been cancelled; and a plaque in his honour at his old university has been removed.

 And what exactly was his crime? No one is saying. According to Keillor, he placed his hand on a woman’s back, meaning to console her after she told him of her unhappiness.

‘She recoiled. I apologised. I sent her an email of apology and she replied that she had forgiven me and not to think about it. We were friends. We continued to be friendly right up until her lawyer called.’

Nearly 70 years after his death, George Orwell is still regarded as one of our greatest essayists and novelists, but a trawl through his life and work by the Thought Police would, I’m sorry to say, unearth far worse.

Even his most sympathetic biographers acknowledge that, as an officer of the Indian Imperial Police in Burma, he paid regular visits to the waterfront brothels of Rangoon. After spending time in Morocco, he also confessed to his friend Harold Acton that he ‘seldom tasted such bliss as with certain Moroccan girls’.

A friend recalled Orwell saying that ‘he found himself increasingly attracted by the young Arab girls’. He confessed to the same friend that he told his wife, Eileen, he ‘had to have one of these girls on just one occasion’. Eileen agreed, and so he went ahead [ . . . ]

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