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As a youngster, I applied to Oxford University.  The college I applied to wasn't interested, but another college that I hadn't applied to invited me for interview and then said they'd like to offer me a place.  I paused, looked around me, and apologetically said no.  I said if they'd been a mixed college, I'd have said yes, but as an all-female college, it was too much like school.

I went to a girls school with a partner boys school.  Mixed classes and activities felt so much safer and when in the sixth form I was allowed to sit in the boys' prefects' room (I was a prefect at the girls school) I felt more relaxed.  I also liked going to the joint prayer group.

It wasn't the boys on mixed school buses grabbing my satchel and throwing it off the bus.  It wasn't the boys climbing over the top of the lavatory cubicles to get at me to beat me up.  It wasn't teachers at the boys school being nasty and blaming me when I got bullied.  It wasn't the boys stealing my school exercise books, rubbing out the teachers' pencil marks and substituting lower grades in ink, e.g. teacher pencils in A, girls rub out and ink in E. 

And it was my male child psychiatrist who gave me the foundations of feminism.  No, really.  He was the one that gave me the sense that I could do things others thought I couldn't.   I was ahead of my era in what I did in martial arts.  Some of the things I did with the army, a lot of people still don't think women do.  Years later, it was a female psychiatric nurse who did the worst to undermine me, although male mental health professionals also damaged me.

But that doesn't mean I don't see a need for single-sex contexts.  When leading local community action years ago, I organised events for lots of different women to come and say what they wanted, not what men said women wanted, and not what other women (including me) who had different things we wanted might otherwise assume all women wanted.  So I understand and accept that lots of women, for a variety of reasons, feel more comfortable in a women's environment, whether that's a safety issue, or a matter of what they're used to or other reasons.  That's no different from women wanting separate seating in their synagogue, chapel, mosque etc.

I think that for a lot of people, a woman often feeling safer in a mixed environment doesn't compute.  I've just been hurt too many times by other girls, other women.  That doesn't make me not accept that there are women that only usually feel safe in a women-only environment and consider it important to find ways to accommodate their needs.

Personally, therefore, my instinct is wherever possible to look for solutions that are about practicality and choice.  E.g. a local community centre.  Two women's loos accessed by shared main door.  Go through door, zigzag tiny corridor.  Go through another door.  Go past basins, mirrors etc.  Two tiny cubicles.

If they changed the layout to cut out the zigzag entrance and shared handwash etc., they could have two cubicles, over twice the floor space each, each with its own wash basin its own lockable door leading onto the main corridor.  I know a supermarket that's done that.  It's brilliant.  By cutting out those shared handwash spaces and extra doors & corridors, it's got a couple of generously sized rooms.  No need to argue if they're male or female.  One's got a changing table as well.  And somewhere off the floor you can put your bags so they don't get soggy.  (Guess what, men, whilst we women slag you off for missing and wetting the floor, there's plenty of women's loos with puddles round them.)  Extra bonus - they're now large enough for two people if someone wants/needs an escort, carer or parent.  You don't have to queue for the disabled loo any more, wetting yourself whilst non-disabled people squeeze into their tiny cubicles.

That doesn't mean nothing single-sex shared, just exploring how we can, wherever possible, make things win-win.

But I think I'm in the minority with a win-win approach on this.  That doesn't suit politicians or tabloids.
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Talk / Re: Wearing a face covering in public
« Last post by Sunny Clouds on 21 Oct 2021 08:10PM »
I'm lucky that I don't have a problem breathing with my masks, even though in some weather conditions and seasons my atopy is a bit of a pain when not damped down with serious immunosuppressants.

I find the 2-layer cotton-mix ones, put through the machine on my usual 40degree wash with non-bio detergent are ok, especially after a couple of washes.  I find handwashing them can be ok, but it depends on what I wash them with, because I did use some handwash that didn't go down well with my seborrhoeic dermatitis, but otherwise they're fine.  Obviously, the key thing is to ensure plenty of detergent contact to mess up the virus' lipids, then thorough rinsing.

I like the mainly cotton ones because I think they do a good job of trapping moisture in the fabric whilst still allowing for breathing.  That being said, I know someone who can't cope with a mask but feels readonably comfortable with a face visor.  I don't like visors so much.

A friend sent me a couple of nice home-made mainly cotton ones that are pleated so they form a nice seal round the face whilst being a bit more open.  I liked those in the hottest summer weather, whereas I like a closer-fit in the cold weather, saving me wearing a scarf against the cold.  But again, it's the washability that works for me.  I think they trap moisture particles whilst letting gases through much better than some masks.  I'm not knocking other sorts.

As for accepting covid-19 like flu, I'd offer a couple of comparisons.  Firstly, flu doesn't usually carry much of a postviral fatigue problem, and whilst long covid may seem to be less of an issue than it was, I've yet to see any evidence that those people that would otherwise get chronic fatigue from certain other viruses such as EB wouldn't still be at risk, in a society that treats people with chronic fatigue as malingerers.

Secondly, we're stuck with various other diseases but we've still done everything we can to minimise them.  For instance, it's been worth fighting back hard against polio, just as it has with bacterial infections such as bubonic plague.  We haven't defeated them but it has been well worth doing our best to get them down to levels at which they don't wipe us out.

So I agree we're going to have to live with this virus and I also hope they'll get the annual vaccine thing up and running soon.  I'm also keeping an eye on the developments in antiviral medicines.  What I'd really like is if it would help not just with this virus, but also if they could develop more general antivirals.

In the meantime, I'm very glad I cope ok with things like masks and social distancing, and I've managed to reconcile the handwashing etc. with my obsessive compulsive problems.
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Talk / Re: Wearing a face covering in public
« Last post by Fiz on 21 Oct 2021 07:17PM »
They're looking at creating an annual vaccination for people with certain conditions and older people that will be given alongside the flu vaccine. Flu kills a lot of older people every year but we accept it as part of life and I can see Covid being viewed the same way. That it will be an ongoing risk to certain groups of people. Hopefully they'll develop suitable annual vaccines soon.


I really struggle wearing a mask now that my pain is worse. I must breathe deeper and I find the mask impairs it even though I buy the medical grade disposable masks that they use in hospitals that are meant to be the best for ease of breathing.
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Talk / Re: Wearing a face covering in public
« Last post by KizzyKazaer on 21 Oct 2021 06:23PM »
I've noticed in my travels that mask-wearing in shops seems to be steadily decreasing with each passing week.  Some folk are going to get a shock if it's made compulsory again!

Have continued with it myself since the last lifting of restrictions, but with colder weather coming I am not so keen as when I don the mask and enter a store, my specs steam up something wicked  :f_erm:   Still, one has to put up with these things, I suppose, but I do wonder sometimes if we'll ever get on top of Covid-19...
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News and Current Affairs. / Re: Does Starmer mean what he says?!
« Last post by KizzyKazaer on 21 Oct 2021 06:17PM »
Sunny, I never considered that there might be people who actively prefer mixed-sex environments, so you had me thinking there...


Fiz, that pool episode and its outcome is truly disgraceful - if anyone should have been excluded from those swimming sessions, I would suggest that man and his apparent carer (why wasn't the carer paying more attention?)


I'm no expert on learning disabilities but I would have thought the capacity to know right from wrong was present in most.  Though this could raise another debate - disability an excuse for bad behaviour???


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Talk / Re: Wearing a face covering in public
« Last post by Fiz on 21 Oct 2021 05:54PM »
I do think Covid will only die down when we've gained immunity and that comes through exposure. I think wearing masks would reduce positive test results but not by much if that was the only measure taken so would not have much of an impact on services. There's increasing pressure on the government to do so though so it will be interesting to see if the government bend on this one.



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Talk / Re: Wearing a face covering in public
« Last post by Sunny Clouds on 21 Oct 2021 05:35PM »
The situation as regards hospitals is partly a regional thing. 

However, it's not just the current rise in cases and the current rise in patients requiring mechanical ventilation that's an issue.  Take the increasing need for ventilators - it could be said that we can still make use of extra ventilators purchased last year.

However, there's still the backlog of other cases to be cleared, which has to be seen 
in the context of staff burnout that's leading to staff going off sick, changing careers, and taking early retirement.  So we don't just need cases to rise less steeply than last year, we need them to fall dramatically.

There's also the point that for patient safety, cases not requiring hospitalisation but where a patient needs to see a doctor (which may be for something else) require home visits.  This again reduces resources for other cases.

Further, whilst the current rise in cases including but not only those cases requiring artificial ventilation may not be at the level they were last year, it's not stopping the rise we need, it's reducing covid-19 cases in order to be able to clear the massive backlog of people waiting for treatment for other conditions.

But whilst the governments of various other first world countries look on in horror at what's happening here, with an attitude along the lines of "We don't mind that the cases are rising because it's not as much as last year."

I feel that way when there's a campaign in an area for, say, steps to be taken to reduce road traffic accidents and people say there's no need because there's no great increase in them, and some of us are there shaking our heads saying "That's no consolation to the family just down the road whose family member's just been run over."

We will probably always be stuck with this virus now, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't tackle the current rise in cases or try to reduce cases further.

That being said, I agree that there is pandemic fatigue.  I believe that that could be tackled with a national campaign along the lines of "Let's save Christmas!"  Slogans like "Mask up now, mask down for Santa!" etc.   

But you know me, doom and gloom, so I reckon the government will hang back from doing anything, let the cases continue to rise, rub their hands in glee as more pension & benefits claimants die, thus reducing the budget...

Still, who knows, maybe people will listen a bit more to the doctors, and maybe on a local level we can make a bit of a difference.
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Talk / Re: Wearing a face covering in public
« Last post by Fiz on 21 Oct 2021 02:00PM »
I don't go many places and don't use public transport but I have noticed more maskless faces in my limited experience. Everyone wears one in the pharmacy, most people don't in the big supermarket but most do in the local co-op and I had lunch out last week with a friend in TGI Fridays and none of the staff wore one. I have to say though that I did like seeing the face of the server and not just eyes.


Yes doctors and health chiefs are calling for a return of compulsory mask wearing and of social distancing whatever that means but hospitals are nowhere near overwhelmed. Most people getting Covid are getting it mildly and recovering quickly at home. Studies have shown that cases of long Covid following Covid is now rare whereas prior to the vaccines it was a common side effect some are still suffering with after getting Covid in the first few months so I can't see the government taking that action yet. I am nervous of getting Covid now mainly because I am past 6 months from my second vaccine so I know my protection is dropping and I was in the group 4 vulnerable group. I think people are tired of the restrictions and realise that Covid is here and active and will be for the next few years so either don't see the point of masks or feel that it will make no difference to the presence of Covid being here for years. Pandemic fatigue maybe.
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Talk / Re: Wearing a face covering in public
« Last post by oldtone27 on 21 Oct 2021 10:37AM »
I haven't used public transport for a while, but mask wearing in my local supermarket has reduced considerably in the last couple of weeks. I reckon its about 50% now down from about 90%+. Its still about 90% by staff though.
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Talk / Wearing a face covering in public
« Last post by ditchdwellers on 21 Oct 2021 09:32AM »
I returned on Monday from a week long holiday on the Isle of Wight. We took the car ferry and travelling with me were my husband, my mother (that deserves a post all of it's own- what a saga!) and the dog.
The ferry company asked that everyone onboard should wear a mask/face covering if they were able to. I was horrified to find that we were in the extreme minority who did so. I don't go into public spaces very frequently these days and when I do I still wear a mask. Does this make me weird? My husband said he's often the only one wearing a mask going into a supermarket. Has anyone else had a similar experience?
I read in the news this morning that doctors are calling on government to reinstate compulsory mask wearing as Covid numbers are rising again. It seems like government are reluctant and dragging their heels yet again in introducing a simple measure that could potentially save lives, prevent severe illness, and stop the overloaded NHS finally grinding to a halt. The lack of long term planning and constant crisis management angers me. Have they learned nothing from the last 18 months?
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