My apologies to Stanley Johnson

Fears I may have offended Pater Johnson, reports from inside China and Burma plus what's going on in

I fear I may have offended the amiable Stanley Johnson - father of London's new mayor. Stanley - a one-time Tory MEP and their enthusiastic if unsuccessful candidate for Teignbridge at the last general election - has expressed a desire to succeed his Bozza as MP for the über-safe Tory seat of Henley.

The news prompted me to fire off a rather cheeky email to Pa Johnson who occasionally contributes to newstatesman.com.

It read: "So Stanley, what's the plan? You going to run in Henley and if so how will you still rumours that you are merely keeping Boris's seat warm?"

Back came a very prompt reply:

"Hello, Ben,

If you look at Wisden you will see that there are plenty of night-watchmen who have gone on to score a century!

all best

Stanley"

And although I never want a Tory to win, I do hope they give him a chance because - let's face it - if Henley insists on voting Conservative (AND when things are going so badly for Lexus Dave, Oik and the crew!) we might as well have someone with a bit of wit and colour about them up the road in Westminster!

The lovable Kate Hoey and charismatic Frank Field excepted of course.

So apologies Stanley - no offence meant.

Anyway moving on.

Lindsey Hilsum - our woman in China - is going to be filing from Sichuan and the absolutely devastating earthquake which has taken the lives of thousands.

We're also getting regular reports from inside Burma and some of the few Western aid workers operating in the cyclone-hit country. We've already heard from Save The Children child protection advisor Katy Barnett. You can donate and find out more about Save the Children's work in Burma by clicking on their website or give by going to the Disaster Emergencies Committee.

More from Katy later.

We're also going to hear from Victor Hulbert, of the Adventist Development Relief Agency.

Other than that, this week we've had an article from India about the mistreatment of India's hajiras – the 200,000 or so male to female transsexuals who often are subject to appalling harassment.

Deepa, a 72 year old hijra living in Mumbai, said: “Nobody says, 'I’d love to be a hijra!' Not if they know what happens to us. But what else can we do? A hijra has a man’s body, but the soul is a woman.” In order to scratch a living many hijras end up in prostitution. Others perform as wedding dancers and, in one region, as tax collectors. Check out this extraordinary story and find out how things may be changing for these people.

Bryan Gould, ex-Labour leadership hopeful, writes on what Gordon Brown must do if he is wants to win the next election.

In blogs we've got Sian Berry already thinking of her next campaign, Scotland's foremost writer AL Kennedy, plus Paul Rodger's Science Decoded and much more.

Ben Davies trained as a journalist after taking most of the 1990s off. Prior to joining the New Statesman he spent five years working as a politics reporter for the BBC News website. He lives in North London.
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The vitriol aimed at Hillary Clinton shows the fragility of women's half-won freedom

The more I understand about the way the world treats women, the more I feel the terror of it coming for me.

I’m worried about my age. I’m 36. There’s a line between my eyebrows that’s been making itself known for about the last six years. Every time I see a picture of myself, I automatically seek out the crease. One nick of Botox could probably get rid of it. Has my skin lost its smoothness and glow?

My bathroom shelf has gone from “busy” to “cluttered” lately with things designed to plump, purify and resurface. It’s all very pleasant, but there’s something desperate I know at the bottom of it: I don’t want to look my age.

You might think that being a feminist would help when it comes to doing battle with the beauty myth, but I don’t know if it has. The more I understand about the way the world treats women – and especially older women – the more I feel the terror of it coming for me. Look at the reaction to Hillary Clinton’s book. Too soon. Can’t she go quietly. Why won’t she own her mistakes.

Well Bernie Sanders put a book out the week after the presidential election – an election Clinton has said Sanders did not fully back her in –  and no one said “too soon” about that. (Side note: when it comes to not owning mistakes, Sanders’s Our Revolution deserves a category all to itself, being as how the entire thing was written under the erroneous impression that Clinton, not Trump, would be president.) Al Gore parlayed his loss into a ceaseless tour of activism with An Inconvenient Truth, and everyone seems fine with that. John McCain – Christ, everyone loves John McCain now.

But Hillary? Something about Hillary just makes people want to tell her to STFU. As Mrs Merton might have asked: “What is it that repulses you so much about the first female candidate for US president?” Too emotional, too robotic, too radical, too conservative, too feminist, too patriarchal – Hillary has been called all these things, and all it really means is she’s too female.

How many women can dance on the head of pin? None, that’s the point: give them a millimetre of space to stand in and shake your head sadly as one by one they fall off. Oh dear. Not this woman. Maybe the next one.

It’s in that last bit that that confidence racket being worked on women really tells: maybe the next one. And maybe the next one could be you! If you do everything right, condemn all the mistakes of the women before you (and condemn the women themselves too), then maybe you’ll be the one standing tippy-toe on the miniscule territory that women are permitted. I’m angry with the men who engage in Clinton-bashing. With the women, it’s something else. Sadness. Pity, maybe. You think they’ll let it be you. You think you’ve found the Right Kind of Feminism. But you haven’t and you never will, because it doesn’t exist.

Still, who wouldn’t want to be the Right Kind of Feminist when there are so many ready lessons on what happens to the Wrong Kind of Feminist. The wrong kind of feminist, now, is the kind of feminist who thinks men have no right to lease women by the fuck (the “sex worker exclusionary radical feminist”, or SWERF) or the kind of feminist who thinks gender is a repressive social construct (rechristened the “trans exclusionary radical feminist”, or TERF).

Hillary Clinton, who has said that prostitution is “demeaning to women” – because it absolutely is demeaning to treat sexual access to women as a tradeable commodity – got attacked from the left as a SWERF. Her pre-election promises suggest that she would probably have continued the Obama administration’s sloppy reinterpretation of sex discrimination protections as gender identity protections, so not a TERF. Even so, one of the charges against her from those who considered her not radical enough was that she was a “rich, white, cis lady.” Linger over that. Savour its absurdity. Because what it means is: I won’t be excited about a woman presidential candidate who was born female.

This year was the 50th anniversary of the partial decriminalisation of homosexuality, and of the Abortion Act. One of these was met with seasons of celebratory programming; one, barely mentioned at all. (I took part in a radio documentary about “men’s emotional experiences of abortion”, where I made the apparently radical point that abortion is actually something that principally affects women.) No surprise that the landmark benefiting women was the one that got ignored. Because women don’t get to have history.

That urge to shuffle women off the stage – troublesome women, complicated women, brilliant women – means that female achievements are wiped of all significance as soon as they’re made. The second wave was “problematic”, so better not to expose yourself to Dworkin, Raymond, Lorde, Millett, the Combahee River Collective, Firestone or de Beauvoir (except for that one line that everyone misquotes as if it means that sex is of no significance). Call them SWERFs and TERFs and leave the books unread. Hillary Clinton “wasn’t perfect”, so don’t listen to anything she has to say based on her vast and unique experience of government and politics: just deride, deride, deride.

Maybe, if you’re a woman, you’ll be able to deride her hard enough to show you deserve what she didn’t. But you’ll still have feminine obsolescence yawning in your future. Even if you can’t admit it – because, as Katrine Marçal has pointed out in Who Cooked Adam Smith’s Dinner?, our entire economy is predicated on discounting women’s work – you’ll need the politics of women who analysed and understood their situation as women. You’ll still be a woman, like the women who came before us, to whom we owe the impossible debt of our half-won freedom.

In the summer of 2016, a radio interviewer asked me whether women should be grateful to Clinton. At the time, I said no: we should be respectful, but what I wanted was a future where women could take their place in the world for granted. What nonsense. We should be laying down armfuls of flowers for our foremothers every day.

Sarah Ditum is a journalist who writes regularly for the Guardian, New Statesman and others. Her website is here.