David Bowie Dies Aged 69


Saying Bye Bye to David Bowie

Bowie fans around the world have been left shocked and saddened at the news of the pop legend’s death yesterday. Reportedly he passed away surrounded by friends and family, after an 18 month battle with cancer that was not made public.

Bowie’s unexpected departure follows the release of his latest album ‘Blackstar’ last Friday, which was also the singer’s 69th birthday.

“Man Up!” We need to talk about gender roles and men’s suffering

Poor body image, eating disorders, “bigorexia” and suicide. It’s time to talk about men’s suffering – and we’re not talking about man flu. Here’s why saying “man up” is harmful;


Men’s Suffering; some facts which might surprise you

Suicide is the biggest killer of men aged 15-34. In the UK 75% of suicide victims are men.

Gender Roles mean men aspire to be big, muscular. Sometimes this can lead to bigorexia

Bigorexia = wanting to be Mr. Muscle.

One in 10 men who train in gyms could be suffering from “bigorexia” AKA muscle dysphoria.

This is an anxiety disorder, where despite being large and muscular, men feel small and weak.

It can lead to steroid abuse, mental health problems and even suicide.

Explain It like I’m Seven: Mental Health

Bigorexia is often described as the opposite of Anorexia. This is an eating disorder characterized by a desire to be thin and a fear of gaining weight.

Yet men also suffer from eating disorders. Since 2000 the number of male sufferers increased by 27%. In fact it was a young man first to be diagnosed with Anorexia in 1649.



So why aren’t we talking about it?

The facts above suggest these are real, tangible problems. Yet when issues like eating disorders or mental health are covered, it’s often (though not always) with a focus on women. Why?

Doves Real Beauty Campaign focused on "real beauty" with women. There have been campaigns for men, but less often.

Campaigns like Dove’s “real beauty” adverts focus on women’s self-esteem and eating habits, not men’s.

Research suggests that men are less likely to recognise health symptoms themselves. They’re also less likely to come forward for a check-up. The same is true for mental health disorders, where men are less likely to report symptoms than women.

Perhaps it’s no surprise that when exploring these issues we focus on women rather than men. After all, the numbers suggest that women may be more at risk. Eating disorders are 10 times more common in women than men. Women are 40% more likely to develop a mental illness than men.

Yet this isn’t providing the full story. Matt Haig notes that whilst UK women may be more likely to suffer from depression, more men commit suicide. “As suicide is usually a symptom of depression, this suggests men are not getting the help they need.”

Dig deeper and you realise this all comes down to those pesky “traditional” gender roles that men and women are supposed to adhere to.


What is gender anyway?

Scene from Mad Men, where Don Draper mocks crying for not fitting within gender roles

Gender Roles: be a man, don’t cry

Psychologist Will Meek defines gender roles as “a set of attitudes, behaviours, and self-presentation methods ascribed to members of a certain biological sex”

(FYI the World health Organisation (WHO) defines “Sex” as “biological and physiological characteristics that define men and women”

and “Gender” as  “the socially constructed roles, behaviours, activities, and attributes that a given society considers appropriate for men and women.”)

So when describing Western traditional gender roles for men, think: don’t cry, stay tough, and work hard. Man up, essentially.



A teenager describes how being a man doesnt mean conforming to gender roles

Be a man: not about holding back tears.

Working with men-only therapy groups Dr. Martin Seager identified the “three rules of masculinity”. Be a fighter and a winner, be a provider and a protector, retain mastery and control.

“If you break any of those, you don’t feel like a man.

So if you don’t have a job, for a woman that’s awful, but if [a] man doesn’t have a job he doesn’t feel he can provide or protect – so he’s lost his masculinity. That’s why the suicide rate for the unemployed is greater for men.”

Seager believes that “this isn’t genetic: we are biologically evolved as male.” Put simply; our image of a “male” is influenced by society.


Is telling someone to “man up” harmful?

Now, it could be argued that our society is slowly becoming more accepting of different ideas of masculinity. Yet the pressure of fitting within the “traditional” gender roles is such that some men find it hard to come forward when perceiving symptoms to be “un-manly”.

A teenage boy describes how gender roles are sexist

Gender roles harm women as well as men

For example, a study of 135 men with eating disorders found that several bulimia victims were ashamed of suffering from a disorder typically associated with females.

It’s important to remember that women also face longstanding destructive cultural practices. The phrase “man up” pressurises men, emphasising that they should aspire to be masculine.

Yet it also belittles women by portraying “feminine” behaviour as inferior.

So, whilst it’s OK to question whether “man up” is “the most destructive phrase in modern culture” we should probably focus on calling out negative stereotypes which affect both men and women.


What can we do about this?

Talk about it! Raising awareness will help us get past gender stereotypes and allow men AND women to come forward and get the help they need.


There are lots of resources and helplines if you, or someone you know, are experiencing mental or physical problems.

READ: The Men’s Health Forum provides information and raises awareness on issues surrounding men.

SPEAK: Mental health charities like Mind run helplines so you can get help even if you don’t want to speak to someone you know.

Samaritans run a free 24-hour helpline; you don’t have to give any personal details if you don’t want to. If something is troubling you, then get in touch.

Think we missed something? Let us know sor@scenesofreason.com


How Same-Sex Marriage Became Legal In ALL American States

I thought America already had gay marriage?

In 2004, the state of Massachusetts became the first American state to legalise same-sex marriages. More and more eventually legalised until 37 out of the 50 American states allowed same-sex marriage. Go progress!

Which states allowed same-sex marriage?


Why was Same-Sex Marriage legal in some states and not others?

America is divided into different states – and each state has its own state government. The USA also has a federal government, which is the national government for the whole of the United States.

Power is shared between the two – which is why different states have different laws.

The United States Presidential System Explained


Why did the Supreme Court get involved?

The Supreme Court is the highest court in America. There are nine judges in the Supreme Court, and each one will have been nominated by the President, and then confirmed by the Senate. They rule on the biggest decisions that affect laws over all of the country.

Until 2013, there was a federal law: The Defence of Marriage Act. This allowed states to refuse to recognise same-sex marriages that had been granted in other states as legal. In other words, even though federal law should technically be obeyed by every single state, the Defence of Marriage Act meant that some states could abide and others not. Talk about big sister vs little sister syndrome.

BUT THEN…The Supreme Court went “HELL NO!”, and destroyed the Defence of the Marriage Act.

Removing the act was a big win for the gay rights movement, but it has not meant that other states automatically have to recognise same-sex marriage….UNTIL NOW.

Check out Vox.com’s awesome video showing how same-sex marriage has been legalised across states over time:



Not all states were happy with the law being removed. People dissatisfied with the decision of the Courts lodged an appeal with the Federal Appeals Court (so many courts, so little time). The Appeals Court couldn’t agree on a decision so the Supreme Court had to sort it out once and for all.


What did the Supreme Court say?

Same Sex Marriage

Same Sex Marriage supporters rally in America

Out of the Nine justices of the Supreme Court, Five voted in favour of gay marriage. This ruling strikes down same-sex marriage bans across the whole of the USA. It also means states have to accept sex-sex marriages performed in other states.

All eyes were on Justice Anthony Kennedy: he was the swing vote who could have gone either way (no pun intended). Kennedy and four other judges rejected claims that marriage was just for pro-creation and for creating a family.

They ruled that prohibiting same-sex marriage is discriminatory and against the United States Constitution.

The what?

The 14th Amendment of the Constitution says that states must provide equal protection under all laws to all groups of people. Therefore, you can’t ban same-sex marriages as that would mean they have fewer rights than heterosexuals.

This argument was successfully used in 1967 to rule that states were NOT allowed to ban inter-racial couples from marrying. It was part of the case in 2013 that removed the Defence of the Marriage Act.


Twitter went mad;

Reaction to the Same-Sex Marriage ruling on Twitter


What we learned today: America’s legal system is crazy complicated.

Get involved in the conversation; #lovewins

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When is a Hate Crime not a Hate Crime? When it’s a Terrorist Act…

OK, what’s a Hate Crime?

The organisation Stop Hate UK defines a “Hate Crime” as a crime “motivated by hostility or prejudice towards any aspect of a person’s identity”

These aspects can include; Race, Disability, Faith, Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation. Why can’t people just learn to get along?

So, can a racist attack be a Hate Crime?

The difference between Racism and a Hate Crime. A black woman holds up a sign saying "Racism"

Doesn’t matter if it’s Racism or a Hate Crime. Just don’t.

For an act to be classed as a Hate Crime it has to break criminal law.

So if a physical attack is made because of a person’s skin colour, yes, it is a hate crime because the law has been broken.

However if a racist comment is made, it may be categorized as a Hate Incident.

If the police decide no law has been broken then it’s defined as an incident not a crime, but still motivated by hate.

Even though no laws are broken, you’ll still get in trouble. If reported to police they would still record this as a Non Crime Incident. Sorry, there’s no escape for being a racist.

What’s the difference between a Hate Crime and a Terrorist Attack?

The difference between a Hate Crime and Terrorism

Quite a big difference, actually.

Terrorism; the unofficial or unauthorized use of violence and intimidation in the pursuit of political aims.

Terrorism causes harm to life, buildings and infrastructure, resulting in fear within communities. If acts of terror specifically target a certain group within recognised hate crime strands (Disability, Faith, Gender Identity, Race or Sexual Orientation) then you could define these as Hate Crimes.

In an interview with KCUR.org Professor Steve Dilks from the University of Missouri-Kansas City states; that Terrorist attacks are often planned attacks to draw attention to a political cause, rather than a spontaneous attack for personal reasons. Terrorist attacks are often part of a larger plan.

Even when Hate Crimes are committed by a group, the aim is usually to send a message to people of a certain race, sexuality or gender, not make a specific political point.

For example;

In 1999 bombings in Soho, London; targeted the Lesbian, Gay, Bi-Sexual and Transgender community (LGBT). Because the attacks targeted the LGBT community and ethnic minorities specifically this could be classed as a Hate Crime.

However the bomb set off by the rebel group the IRA (Irish Republican Army) in Manchester’s Arndale shopping centre in 1996, was an Act of Terrorism. This is because it wasn’t aimed at a specific group of people; it was designed to scare and injure as many people as possible, and to make a political statement.

The Small Print: the definition of a Hate Crime is based on perception. Any incident or crime could be reported as being hate motivated by the victim or any other person. Some might argue the IRA attack could be interpreted as a Hate Crime against all British people.

So, can a terrorist attack be a hate crime? Potentially, though usually the motivations behind the attack make it one or the other. Basically, neither is very nice.

Why are we talking about this?

Hate Crime

Does the media report some Hate Crimes differently?

Yesterday in South Carolina, America; a white man opened fire on an African-American church, leaving nine people dead. The church’s pastor Senator Clementa Pinckney is among the dead.

At the moment very few details are known. The police have arrested a suspect, Dylann Roof and are investigating the incident as a Hate Crime.

On social media some people are already commenting on how the media is reporting this incident. Many people think that because the shooter was white, the media will report differently than they would if he was of another ethnic group.

What are people saying?

South Carolina, Hate Crime, Reaction on Twitter


What we learned; Haters gonna hate, we hate all crime, but it has to break the law to be classed as a Hate Crime.

Does the media report Hate Crimes differently if a white person is involved? Is doing that actually a Hate Crime itself?

Don’t be hatin’

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GCSE Reform: Proof that we are too old to say we miss school

Education is getting a shake-up. GCSE reform is just one of the governments latest plans to improve the school system. Here are some major changes to education over the years; we’ll leave it to you to work out if things are better or worse.


1) GCSE reform means tougher exams?

Education GCSE reform means calculators may be used for more than writing "boobs"

Wait, what?

New changes announced by Education Secretary Nicky Morgan mean students will have to work harder to get a pass. The traditional A-G grading system is being replaced by a 1-9 numbered system. 

9 is high, 1 is low. Should it not be the other way round?

Anyway students will now have to get a grade 5 to pass; the same as a low B or high C grade. Prior to GCSE reform a normal C grade was still considered a pass. So things are gonna be tougher; now are you glad you’re not at school anymore?


How long will it be before students are attempting to get the grades 5,3,1,8,0,0 and 8 in different subjects, so that they can turn their results paper upside down to spell “BOOBIES”?!


2) Sex Education

Sex Education - will this change under GCSE reform?

Awks. Maybe a GCSE reform on Sex Ed should be top of the agenda.

Back when you little things were innocent. It was pretty racy to be holding someones hand, or passing them a note.

In a piece for the Open University Professor Michael Reiss explains how sex education was very limited before World War Two.

Before that girls were tutored on self-control and modesty, whereas boys were taught about the temptations of “factory life”. Because it’s obvious that to lose your virginity you go to a factory, right?

Today, with high numbers of Sexting in schools maybe it’s a good thing that kids have all the factsBut is it possible sex education can go to far? Recently it was reported that Harvard University is now going to give an Anal Sex workshop as part of their Sex Week Program. Yes, that’s right. Anal 101. Maybe the UK government should have included foreplay lessons in the GCSE reform plan. Just kidding. 


3) University U-Turns

Back in the good old days university was free. You could even get grants to help pay for living costs. The Labour government spoiled things slightly by bringing in tuition fees. Which were then raised by the Conservative/Liberal Democrat Coalition. Guys, you really don’t need to try to out-do each other.

Education is a pricey one - university tuition fees are on the rise.


Despite the increase more young people are applying to university; in 2013, nearly 50% of young people were going. This was the highest amount on record.

Whether people are going to study or just for the cheap booze and banter is hard to tell. But the debt is going up, up, up. Some worry this will lead to people being priced out of an education.

Forget GCSE reform; is it time we had a reform of tuition fees?


4) Girl Power

Education GCSE reform An image of Emma Watson as Hermione in the Harry Potter Series

Five Points to Gryffindor

The days of Home Economics, where girls were taught how to cook and clean, are long gone.

What ever your views on feminism, things have drastically changed. Subjects are no longer specified for girls or boys.

In the past boys and girls were kept separated; people thought that girls would struggle academically compared to boys. Now, academically girls are outperforming boys at GCSE level.


5) #NewTechology

education gcse reform. An image from the TV show the IT crowd

Can your fancy coding tricks stop a fire? Wait, they can? Get outta here.

Typewriting lessons were once considered pretty rad. Computers arrived; they were for playing snake and creating presentations with clip art (a great way of not doing much and making it look awesome).

Now kids in secondary school are being taught how to code from an early age. Children use video, online tools and photoshop. Interactive online lessons have become popular; though so far this hasn’t meant we can work from home.

But… what happens to people who aren’t tech-savvy? If you’re a millennial who just missed out on the coding revolution; start crying, we’re screwed.


6) No more beatings.

Education GCSE reform - image of Bart Simpson writing lines from TV show the Simpsons

Only 257 lines to go.

You might think your teachers are tough on you, but in the past it was a lot worse.

In the past, you could expect to be beaten if you stepped out of line. The practice of hitting misbehaving students with canes was still allowed until 1986. Mental, huh?

Now as attitudes have changed new rules to protect students are much, much stricter. Punishments are often designed to make students think about what they’ve done wrong. Does this mean children are less likely to misbehave?

As well as knowing you’re not going to be beat up, student’s mental wellbeing is monitored by teaching staff. It’s hard deciding which topics should be included in a GCSE reform; exam board AQA have decided to take suicide off their education curriculum as it was too upsetting.


What we learned; if you’re 23/24, looks as if our kids are going to be screwing up their faces when when we mention GCSE’s, just like we did when our parents told us about O Levels. Welcome to the adult world.

Are schools better than they were in the past? Is the GCSE reform a good idea? What more needs to be done to improve our education system?


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