Talking points for 13 May: reprise

I see Peter posted on the blog when he got home from our Sony awards party, late last night… It was certainly a euphoric evening. 

I don’t think any of us will forget the moment when we heard that World Have Your Say had won a Gold! And it was a part of a fantastic night for the whole World Service, so we are all feeling very proud. Thank YOU too for all your messages: it’s lovely to hear from so many of you who have helped to make the programme what it is, and who share in our excitement!

Anyway, back to work, and the stories of the day.  More and more information is emerging from Sichuan Province in the wake of yesterday’s devastating earthquake. At least ten thousand people are thought to have been killed. Chinese military doctors and soldiers have now reached the epicentre, at Wenchuan, where they are trying to find and help survivors.

With the the international community and aid agencies still struggling to persuade the Burmese authorities to let them help people in the cyclone-stricken Irrawaddy Delta region, it’s striking how quickly the Chinese government has swung into action after the quake. The BBC’s Quentin Somerville says it’s one of the most open and speedy responses to an emergency that he’s ever seen in the Chinese media – and it’s certainly a contrast to the 1976 Tangshan earthquake, when Beijing failed for months to admit that 240,000 people had died.  

One article in today’s press suggests that the Chinese government has learnt from past PR disasters that covering up tragic news stories is a bad idea, and that they are determined to avoid another blow to their nation’s international standing in the run-up to the Olympics.  Will China’s swift response to the earthquake, and an outpouring of international sympathy for its victims,  help to restore China’s battered image after the Tibetan unrest and the Olympic torch protests?  

On a completely different note, the post I put up yesterday on whether or not first cousins should be allowed to marry seems to be stirring up an interesting debate, so that’s something we might talk about too…

Yesterday’s big entertainment story (overshadowed, as it was, by the grim news from China) was the London premiere of the film ‘Sex and the City’, about the trials and tribulations of four single women in New York. Many people credit the original TV series (on which the film was based) with encouraging Western women to talk about sex with unprecedented frankness. But has it had a worldwide effect? When I was staying in central China a few years ago, I discovered that some of my female friends had become avid viewers of ‘Sex and the City’ DVDs (dubbed or subtitled into Chinese). I was amazed, as they had admitted to me in the past that they never talked about sex, even to their most intimate friends. Have you watched this TV programme? Is it influencing sexual mores in YOUR country? I’m very curious!



18 Responses to “Talking points for 13 May: reprise”

  1. 1 Bob in Queensland
    May 13, 2008 at 10:51

    Whatever their motives, the pictures and reporting coming from the Chinese earthquake are a major departure compared to what we normally see from there. They are being very open about both the casualties and their response (which seems to be first rate), right down to showing nurses crying under the strain.

    Being used to the usual “glorious red army reacting heroically” style of coverage, the marks a major departure. I’d love to think it also means a change in government policy to the media but I fear I’m too cynical for that. Let’s wait and see what we get next time something happens in Tibet!

  2. 2 Brett
    May 13, 2008 at 12:48

    Have you watched this TV programme? (Sex and The City)
    Ugh, the girls I live with have all of the seasons on DVD and it seems they never finish watching it. Whenever they are bored, its Sex and the City. I personally think the show is in poor taste, and boring. Then again, I get ragged on for watching The History Channel whenever I am in a place with cable TV haha.
    If you want to talk about a show or movie promoting promiscuity amongst teens (even though that is not the target audience of the show, teens still watch it), and young women; From what I have seen of the show, I cannot think of a more concrete instance of a media outlet doing more to promote it to women.
    Does it empower women to talk openly about sex? Sure. Does it empower women in relationships? Perhaps.
    Regardless, I guess it’s a better show than Desperate Housewives.

    This all makes me glad I don’t watch and get sucked into mind-numbing T.V. shows.

    Brett ~ Richmond, Va.

  3. 3 Brett
    May 13, 2008 at 13:01

    P.S. CONGRATS on the Sony Award!!!!!!!! 🙂

  4. 4 John in Salem
    May 13, 2008 at 13:19

    I can’t help the feeling that China would not be reacting to the quake as quickly and openly as they are if it were not for the Olympics and that when the Games are over it will be business as usual.
    Or that it is also a convenient diversion of attention away from what they are doing to block the UN Security Council from dealing with the crisis in Burma.

    Sex and The City?
    Never watched it, won’t see the movie and I can’t believe you would follow your Sony Award by dumbing down the discussion with a topic like that.

  5. 5 Brett
    May 13, 2008 at 13:28

    Horay for West Virginia primaries, they’re today… Wonder who’s going to win this one 😉 I really am interested by how much Hillary will win this by; Just for the humor of it all.

  6. 6 John in Germany
    May 13, 2008 at 14:21

    Everybody laying back and thinking, got a Sony its gold, lets all relax, turn of the brain, pat every one on the back, ( watch it, could be sexist).

    Wondering what its all about sex and the City, prefer sex and the country-side. Even though it was not always comfortable in the hay, even got lucky and got the key from Bobs Shepherd hut now and again. Hey what’s the matter with do it yourself?. If we all got down to doing, we would not need DVDs, and books to read.

    Love is a feeling a very funny feeling, its a feeling that you’ve never felt before, its a feeling that you feel, that you really aught to feel,. for evermore. So come on folks switch of the TV-The Video-The Handy and get on with it.

    And blow Sex in the City, and its like into the universe. Let Spring and the hormones take over, utopia= Spring at the same time all over the World= Lets make love not war.

    No surprise, Gold for WHYS. The best BEEB programme that money buys.

    John in Germany

  7. 7 steve
    May 13, 2008 at 14:27

    About sex and the city: What a disaster that show has caused:


    Read the comments. Women try to model their lives off the show, and don’t realize the consequences, nor really care either.

  8. 8 steve
    May 13, 2008 at 14:29

    @ Brett

    Anyone who thinks the history channel is boring, and watches Sex and the City is probably not someone’s opinion you should take very highly. Mindless, promiscous, materialistic vs. educational and entertaining. But where’s the drama in the history channel? as your cosmo drinking roommates would ask. Also, guess how close to being maxed out on shoes and handbags their credit cards are?

  9. May 13, 2008 at 15:59

    Congratulations WHYS! Very good on you! Never a more deserving award!

    Steve, get over it! You are so judgemental! What is the deal with all that? Aren’t women allowed to watch, do and spend money how and on what they want to? Why are you so invested in being judge and jury about defining this as “irresponsible” behaviour?

    I for one am a big fan of Sex and the City and am looking forward to the premiering of the movie here. The great thing about Sex and the City is that it has started a conversation about Feminism to a whole new generation of young people, currently, not just women! And, by Feminism I am not suggesting the bra burning version of the sixties in which women were stereotyped into being female versions of men. Rather, I am referring to the raising of consciousness regarding the ever important issues related to choice/ agency and how people become empowered by becoming aware of and, or exercising this option.

    I am for any project – movies, included, that will foster that keen sense of independence and confidence in people everywhere – man or woman. We are nothing if we are not empowered, informed and able to make choices. Whether that means maxing out our credit cards – for whatever reasons, as Steve notes, then, I say bring it on!

    In reality, confidence and spending power are not mutual exclusives. Purchasing power can be a good thing to have, especially on days when it handily helps us lift the mist of otherwise bad day!

  10. 10 steve
    May 13, 2008 at 16:21


    If this is confidence and empowerment, then, um, more power to you.


  11. 11 steve
    May 13, 2008 at 19:59


    Hhhaa, they’re airbrushing themselves to make them look the way they do on camera. Nice. Nothing dishonest about that…

  12. 12 Tom
    May 13, 2008 at 23:57

    Authorities are saving lives. Aids are arriving on time. That’s what matters! Publicity or not.

  13. May 14, 2008 at 06:38

    Steve, PLEASE spare me! This very judgemental attitude of yours is completely amazing to me. In a day and age when the world has obviously moved on you are bent on keeping us in the dark ages of chastity belts, veils and false modesty! As far as I am concerned these women can do as they damn well please – Sex and the City or no! In the end, it is really about personal emancipation. You don’t agree? Big deal! Get over it!

  14. May 14, 2008 at 06:55

    In fact, more than a question of personal or even collective emancipation, there is the critical issue of consciousness raising, specifically at a time when faith seems lacking in so many other areas life and there is a yearning hunger for something to believe in. What qualifies me to judge someone else in this regard? Indeed, this is a very critical ingredient in all this – tolerance. Obviously, though, you would miss it – pure and natural as you are with your very keen focus on “inner beauty”! Please….!

    Leave the women/ people to do what they please! Have they not earned the right? If maxing our your credit cards and wearing Manolo Blahniks while having ‘good sex’, whatever that means, are the things that do it for you, then, by all means – bring it on! Who are we to judge? And, even if we do, who cares? Is that going to change the price of rice in the morning?…How and why is this an issue for you?

  15. 15 John in Germany
    May 14, 2008 at 14:39

    Come on you two, whats the fuss?. Sex and the city, is it polished porn?.
    If some one wants to be a fan ok, a fan of what?.

    Ladies complain that the female body is used for every thing, from selling aircraft to warning for Aids. And here we have four of them making a hell of a lot of money, for nothing, fans or not…….Television here in Germany is loaded down with soap, and viewer participation. Farmers looking for wife’s or something, Marriage programmes with a guaranteed 100% first night, Wife changing, People getting killed for laughs, except the tragedy is cut.. Super Nannies, There must be enough people out there to enable the programmes to run……God help us all, And now this sex and the city, well calculated to bring in millions, And we fall for it again and again.

    Of course life has to go on, but ain’t there enough problems,. serious problems at the moment?.

    John in Germany

  16. May 14, 2008 at 17:08

    @ John,

    Perhaps, you are right. However, at the heart of many of the concerns in the world today is that there are ‘serious problems’ which are very much located within the gendered body politics of identity/ sexuality. As you acknowledge, female identity and its related resources are often used as a means of constructing a whole host of concerns which do have very real impact on peoples’ life chances.

    The notion that only certain types of people matter and that others are somehow more entitled are likely examples. According to many in this forum, the US Presidential Elections on the Democratic side clearly make this point. Some make the rules and order the world, whereas others are bound to follow the dogmatic proclamations of the few who are too entusiastic in disavowing the complexity of real life, as a result.

    That doesn’t change the fact that we may disagree on various issues, nor does it deny the reality that there was an earthquake in China recently that took many lives and that the Chinese Government, perhaps upon reflection on past actions, appears to be seeing a value to being more pro-active and open about how they deal with issues of this nature. My point is, this is but one in a set of issues with which we contend, globally. This accords it no more importance than the matter of starving children somewhere in Africa or another part of the world.

    Indeed, it might even be less important by comparison.
    However, it does not make topics about gender and its impact on the construction and performance of womanhood any less worthy of a meaningful discussion. The prejudices of those who would rather seek to police public morality on the premise that they are in personal or, even, cultural disagreement with the subject has little or no place in the conversation.

  17. 17 John in Germany
    May 15, 2008 at 10:28

    @ Agostinho.

    Of course we may disagree, and enjoy the disagreement or agreement according to what cultural puzzle we fit into. i hope i did not give the impression that i am prude, or a moral preacher, just fed up with the priority position of sex. The media has made sex into a near Olympia discipline, with targets that no normal living person can achieve, resulting in breakdown of many relationships. It is not instructive, but destructive.

    John in Germany.

  18. May 15, 2008 at 16:15

    @ John.

    I get you. Just pointing out that I am a little suspicious of those who, like certain unnamed members of this forum, seem so keen on regulating (women’s) behaviour – this is not the first time, incidentally.

    Frankly, it is a little obnoxious and tiresome! I am all for your position in terms of the importance that has been attached to sex, especially in and by the media. However, one has to also understand that the discussion of sex is not, in and of itself, a bad thing. There are other worst things in life, I am sure.

    Indeed, perhaps if more of us had “good sex” (whatever means!) then we would not all be as high strung and worked up over, what in my opinion, is the simplest of everything (I am biased, I know! Which says nothing about my own sex life or the lack thereof! Just saying….).

    Women’s rights are real issues as are issues related to sex, that is all I am saying! And, I am a BIG fan of Sex and the City, I must confess. So, I do not see the sex so much as the meaningful story lines and the pathos and complexity of the lives of the four women. I am happy to see that the movie has finally been made and is now available for public consumption.

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