Category Archives: Introspection

Why I Don't Think I'm As Feminist As All That

This is likely to be the most poorly expressed collection of thoughts I’ve ever written. Apart from a couple of my drunken journal entries. Those are excellent. But no, they’re not likely to ever make it up here, sorry.

Anyway. This is one of those few posts that has made it into my drafts folder. It’ll take the form of a disjointed kind of a list.

Firstly: rape jokes. I sort of feel like I ought to find them inappropriate because, you know, rape is a terrible, terrible thing, without any hint of non-seriousness there whatsoever and no, I mean it. But, for crying out loud: Dead Baby jokes. Madeleine McCann jokes. The Bunny Suicides. A hell of a lot of the sense of humour of (primarily young people and probably mainly students) revolves around some seriously terrible things. Perhaps this is how we process those things, perhaps it’s just that things are funny when they really shouldn’t be – why else would Jeff’s Giggle Loop be such an on-the-nail description of that kind of laughter you laugh when you’re at a funeral or your spouse is breaking up with you? We laugh at inappropriate, terrible things, perhaps because we’d otherwise cry, or perhaps they’d make us angry, or perhaps it wouldn’t, but we have to react in some way.

No, I’m not getting into the psychology of what makes us laugh. Bother that. If it’s OK to laugh at dead babies and Madeleine McCann and so on, then sure, if you think of something genuinely witty to say about rape, say it. If it’s not OK to laugh at rape jokes then dead babies and Madeleine McCann are out too, OK? Good.

Secondly: I like cooking, I like doing things for other people, I love it when you create something edible and it makes someone else happy, or you pass your plate over at a restaurant because the portions are, as ever, huge, and you get to watch someone you love slurp white wine sauce out of a mussel shell whilst looking as happy as Larry at you. I like knitting things, it’s only a matter of time before I do actually kidnap a small child (no, not really, I’m not utterly daft) and I hope to goodness that someday I get married and have children and don’t have to work so that I get to spend lots of time at home bringing them up. I get a bit gooey about little boys in school uniform or choirboy outfits or whatever and I’m already eyeing up the Hornby. I don’t think this is incompatible with the fact that I do want a really interesting research career first/later in life and I am quite independent and would like to do a number of things first.

Thirdly: I really would rather not walk home alone late at night. I know, technically, that if I was a Good Feminist I’d carry a rape alarm and learn how to poke someone’s eyes out with the heel of my DMs or something (not that I own DMs), but actually, I’d rather get a taxi, make someone walk me home, or be home before it gets late. I will walk home alone, and I’m not scared to do so, I just can’t help thinking that it isn’t a good idea.

Fourthly: Women’s magazines are full of airbrushed, long-legged beauties who look decades younger than they should and impossibly perfect. They wear clothes which are pedalled to us constantly, bags we must have in order to fit in. Personally I don’t tend to enjoy those magazines much – I get all the fashion I need from the various newspaper supplements in the Times or the Guardian, and I really don’t care about celebrities. Furthermore I think very few people actually are made to feel inadequate by the terrifyingly unattainable role models and examples set in these magazines. Perhaps one is as a teenager – I know it certainly angered me at the time that even in magazines aimed at teenage girls one is constantly told how to diet and all the rest of it when really we should be getting the message that, actually, you are who you are, and that is wonderful. But I don’t think anyone once they reach a certain age or level of maturity is made to feel inadequate by the frank mythologisation of womanhood in women’s magazines and basically everyone just enjoys them for what they are. I don’t think they’re massively damaging.

Fifthly, a slightly different point: the norm for women at this point in time is to shave their legs and their underarms and pluck their eyebrows and get rid of (I don’t know how, this isn’t a problem I have) any trace of a moustache. And so adverts telling us to buy razors and feel like goddesses obviously appear on television. Again, I don’t have a problem with this. I am happy to fit in with a cultural norm that dictates that I should either shave my legs or keep them out of sight. And I know there are a number of women who don’t want to shave their legs or remove their moustaches or whatever and they just bloomin’ well go for it. I don’t think adverts telling you that using a certain razor will make you feel like a goddess are saying you can’t feel like a goddess if you have hairy legs – that’s as odd a proposition from the advert in question as saying that using that razor will actually turn you into a goddess.

So, while in other countries women are denied education and many other basic rights, whilst in some places life is an awful lot harder if you are a women; whilst there are undeniably people who we may well encounter every day who think less of me because I am a woman than you, because you are man; whilst domestic violence and rape and things occur all the time and that is utterly terrible, I still wouldn’t say I was a capital-F Feminist. I can’t see what is wrong with the media  as it is commenting on the way Mrs Cameron dresses, say (heck, they also comment on the dress sense of Mr Cameron and all the rest), or telling me that I should use this razor to shave my legs. I think we are awfully lucky in the UK today to have the choice to be and dress and sleep with whoever we want, to be able to marry who we like and when we like and only if we like. I like dressing up and wearing lipstick and playing the role of a woman in society. I like being a woman, I like being a girl, I like being a lady, and conforming to those stereotypes. I like it when some of the men I know patronise me a bit for being a bit of a girl. I will laugh at rape jokes, I will shave my legs and feel like a goddess, I will stare in wonder at the new seasons capes and jersey dresses and boots and I don’t mind in the least that the vagaries of fashion want me to buy new things each season because, when I have the money, I like buying those things.

This is what I’m concluding: I am not a Feminist. I believe in equality and freedom for all people in all places and while I care that women get raped and are denied basic rights to education and divorce and the right not to be stoned for adultery after having slept with someone new after becoming a widow, I also care that men are fighting wars and battles and gunfights over who they are, who they believe in and the colour of their skin; that children are dying every day from a lack of clean drinking water; that it’s harder to get into a good university simply because you’ve grown up on a council estate and gone to a state school; that our economy is in real trouble and I do worry that Osbourne is cutting too much, too fast, and that that will spell trouble in the end. I am a feminist insomuch as I am also a childist and an andronist and an environmentalist. It should surely all come as part of a package – part of being a decent human being is, surely, caring about others, no matter what or who they are.

This post was originally meant as a lighthearted riposte to some shocking allegations thrown at me in the pub a week or so ago. Whoops.

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What I Like About The Future

I have no idea what’s going to happen. I have no idea, either, what I’m going to want, and whether what I want this time next year is going to be the same as what I want now or somehow entirely different. And so it doesn’t matter that I don’t know what’s going to happen, because I also don’t know how I’m going to feel about it, so I basically have to assume that whatever it is it’ll be fine; because even if you could tell me what’s going to happen, how I feel about it now and how I will actually feel about it could well be two entirely different things.

So actually, yes, it’s all OK. Even though sometimes I would like someone to drop out of the sky and whisper in my ear, tell me about my future, promise me it contains Nobel prizes and a real-life Daniel Craig/Mr Darcy hybrid and a car that drives like an Aston and runs on solar power or the breath of fairies or something. It’s not going to happen (the sky person thing, I mean, not the Aston thing, that’s a definite). I don’t know what’s around the corner and, if I’m honest, I’d rather not find out too soon. It’s like reading the last page of the novel when you’re still only just getting up to the dramatic bit. You really don’t want to spoil the ending or know about twists in the tail, they’ll surprise you soon enough.

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Mr Fox! I Hate This Game, Sir. This Game Makes My Tongue Quite Lame, Sir.

So, for nearly twenty-one years of my life, I couldn’t say the letter ‘r’, at least, not in the context of words like ‘red’, ‘really’, ‘green’ or ‘cream’. No, it’s all ‘Where’s Wodewick’ and ‘weally gween cweam’, except with the merest hint of ‘v’ thrown in for good measure. Seriously. Fail. And my friends and housemates have all over time found this hilarious and even once made me record myself singing the rainbow song. Honestly, I sounded like a creepy Dr Who Evil Child kind of a character, which must be really scary to have as an alarm waking you up but there we go, it takes all sorts.

And then one day quite recently I worked it out, how to do it properly, so it’s neither a ‘w’ or a hard rolled ‘r’ but somewhere tidily in between, a real ‘r’, like most people manage. And it’s easy, and natural-sounding, and normal. But actually it still takes concentration, a lot of the time, to catch those ‘r’s as they approach, and make sure you say them properly. And it takes practice and when I’m tired or I’ve got a lot to say, I struggle to remember or think it important. But hey, I have to keep remembering and doing it right or I’ll never learn and my children will be just as bad at it and so it goes on.

Anyway. I was proud of myself. So I just thought I’d tell y’all. Enjoy…!

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Eternal Sunshine

If you haven’t seen this film and want to, look away now. It’s not really about the film as such so much as the concept. But what I’m going to say in this post will almost certainly tell you everything you really didn’t want to go in to watching the film for the first time knowing.

Right, you’ve had your warning. Basically it’s about memory, and about a service which removes peoples’ memories of a certain person or event. So of course it is primarily used by distressed ex-lovers trying to get their beloved ex-girlfriend or -boyfriend out of their head in order to move on with their lives. And as you know, I hope, two characters erase one another and then one way or another discover that they have erased one another, discover where all their old memories are, and fall in love again. I can’t remember whether they actually regain their old memories of each other, or merely discover that they had them – it wasn’t made clear, and I wasn’t concentrating. Anyway, there you go. I was watching this recently whilst doing some boring room-sorty thing, and it made me think a bit. One obvious question: if there’s a reason why you broke up, surely if you can’t remember anything about your entire previous relationship history is basically doomed to repeat itself and you’ll end up going through the same break-up and then probably discovering this memory-wiping service again… and so it goes on.

But the other thing that really troubled me was this: every time I’ve really fallen for someone, they’ve usually had a big influence on my life, as a friend or a partner, whatever. I’ve learnt a lot from those people and experiences about myself, and I’ve learnt some valuable lessons and changed a lot as a result of those relationships. Anyone you’re close to like that, be they a best friend or a boyfriend, will change you in some way, not necessarily in a bad way, just in that everyone we meet affects the course of our lives and the way we think about stuff in one way or another. We learn valuable lessons from the people we encounter all the time. So if you wipe the memories of that person, who or what do you become? If, as a result of your relationship with a person, you’ve become more confident and trusting, say, do you carry on being more confident and trusting – or, with no known reason to have those characteristics, do you lose them because they no longer tie in with your personal narrative, do you forget those lessons because you no longer have the memories of having learnt them and therefore to all intents and purposes never did learn those things? To be honest, I think the latter is more likely, though I couldn’t say why.

I wouldn’t change a second of my life, really. I’ve made some stupid choices and I’ve met people who have hurt me a lot and whom I have allowed to hurt me. I’ve had bad days and good days, bad years and good years, I have regrets, we all do – but in a world where all of those things hadn’t happened, I wouldn’t be who I am today. So, given the choice, I’d keep those memories. What do you think?

P.S. I’m getting confirmed today. So that’s the subject of my next post, when I get the time… .

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Outrage

I read on The Forum Whatever about Rapelay, a Japanese video game which, well, read the article here, which will tell you no more than you need to know.

The thing is, though, it’s a game where the aim is to rape people; why is it that that seems so much worse than games in which the idea is to gratuitously kill others who are unarmed? I don’t have a problem with violent games in which you’re actually in combat with others who are also armed and it’s kill-or-be-killed, because there is an objective to your violence and it’s not absolutely the entire point of the game. The point of the game there is your own imaginary survival; fair enough. But when you’re not at risk from the people you’re killing how has that become acceptable (e.g. in Grand Theft Auto) when surely it ought to ring as terrible as this rape-simulation game? Or is there a reasonable justification for feeling that a game centred on raping girls and women is in some way morally worse than a game which is primarily about killing innocent bystanders?

And what about films? When is it acceptable to portray graphic, violent rape scenes, and what do we mean by ‘in the name of art’? Is it OK if you’re trying to shock your audience, but not if you know they’re just going to get off on it? And is that the true difference between ‘high’ and ‘low’ culture?

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So Today I Need Reminding Of All The Good Stuff

I could bitch about all manner of things right now I’m sure if I tried, and because I’m in such a bad mood, instead, for my benefit rather than yours, you’re going to get a list of good things:

  1. I’m not dead.
  2. I have a rather nice tan.
  3. I don’t have skin cancer yet.
  4. I’m not utterly terrible at the violin.
  5. I have a beautiful new jacket.
  6. The heatwave was lovely although I could do with more of it.
  7. My exam isn’t tomorrow.
  8. I have the best work experience ever (never mind that I haven’t otherwise planned anything for the summer, I’ll just assume it’ll consist of pubs and the odd barbecue and hopefully a festival or two and in fact my 21st birthday).
  9. I’m not actually panicking about my 21st yet which is definitely a good thing. I’ve even formulated a vague plan or two.
  10. I live on a planet where there are such things as hammocks, which is good, even if I don’t actually own one. I will.
  11. I like both being busy and bitching about how busy I am and currently I am doing quite a lot of both.
  12. I have plans. Evil, wonderful plans. Involving madrigals and cake and probably a salmon.
  13. I still haven’t found the time for this week’s Doctor Who, which means that I still have that treat left to come.
  14. Apparently the entirety of Whose Line Is It Anyway is on 4od. I’ve never watched it but if my sister thinks it’s funny she’s probably right. Not thatI’ll ever get time to watch it, but hey. It has to be cheerier than Ashes to Ashes, right? Although that was pretty brilliant.

Hey, look, I thought I was going to struggle to reach ten. And there. Fourteen, easy.

Yeah, you’re right. Testicles.

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Second Life

I always kind of assumed that when I was a bit older or something I’d get bored of large swathes of the internet. That I’d use Facebook and email to stay in touch with people but other than that, well, nothing. That I’d stop writing a blog, I’d stop going on MSN and talking to people there, I’d stop reading webcomics or other peoples’ blogs.

I still kind of believe that. There’s a bit of me that thinks there’s something a bit weird about, say, married people who blog – about baby’s first word or that funny thing that happened on the way to the supermarket or their in-laws hilariously outdated and dodgy political views or whatever – that I blog because I’m single, I spend a lot of my time on my own working in my own little bubble and so this is an easy and itneresting way of reaching out to the rest of hte world without having to leave my desk. Even now part of me thinks this is a little bit sad, somehow. That I ought to be outside at the pub or drinking coffee with friends – except that I spend a significant chunk of my time doing those things already, it’s not as if I’m lonely, so that can’t be why I do this. It’s not as if I don’t have massively interesting and informed debates with my friends over coffee and tea and ale in the real world, either, it’s not as if I haven’t subjected them all, severally, to the rantwhinebitchwhingebrainsplurge on the subject of my education, miseducation, or otherwise, just for a recent example, more than once.

I do also assume that somehow once I am ‘an adult’ I will somehow no longer have the time for this virtual world. But it’s not as if I’m not incredibly busy at the moment, either, and it’s not as if keeping a blog requires huge amounts of time or thought – words just flow from brain to fingers and I write them, it’s as simple as that, it’s only irritating that I type so fast that my hands get slightly out of sync and the letters get in the wrong order sometimes (I hope you’ve all got as used to ‘becuase’ as I have, because it’s there to stay and I’m sorry), or my other favourite, my brain goes completely doo-lally and we go in for phonetic typing such that ‘in sync’ becomes ‘in sink’ and ‘there’ ‘their’ and ‘they’re’ are simply confused because they all sound the same so surely (thanks, Brain) it doesn’t matter.

So. I’m unlikely to run out of the time to have a blog. And you all know me, I’m unlikely to run out of things to say. And, not to boast, I’m not likely to run out of readers. And it’s my primary means of contact with some friends and although those friendships (if that’s what you can yet call them) are gradually moving into emails and even, tentatively, real life, we don’t always have the time for five paragraphs of intense social commentary in an email when you can write a comment just to say, hello, hope you’re OK. So what is going to happen? When will this stop? Does it stop?

And what about Skype and MSN? It’s on in the background, I’m usually on ‘appear offline’, I haven’t had an online conversation with anyone for weeks, actually, a few people have attempted to catch me, I’ve tried to say hello to one or two people in the rare moments that I have the time and am not doing something more useful or more relaxing, but, ships in the night. But sometimes it is useful. When you don’t want to phone because it’s expensive or late at night or you’re also trying to hang up your laundry or whatever. When you just want to quickly organise something with a group of people. When you want to stay in touch with home friends and you’re at uni – I think that’s its main use for me. And, shamefully, those conversations you start having which are very lighthearted and backgroundy and you’re working at the same time but then gradually you get all deep and serious and late night and emotions come crawling out of the woodwork and actually those are conversations that perhaps you’d never dare have face to face because that’s just scary and will I be any better at talking about my feelings when I really am a grown-up? I doubt it. Not, actually, that I’m all that bad at it, when it comes to it. Bite the bullet, say what you’re really thinking, no-one needs a screen to hide behind except that equally you’ve made me blush, or I really don’t want you to see/hear me crying and thank god if we’re on MSN I can be far more matter-of-fact and nonchalant. Don’t tell me that you don’t sometimes prefer it like that.

I think my dad feels that it’s kind of sad that we all still use these forms of communication that we were desperately attached to when we were fifteen. But I think our use of them has evolved. Who still has song lyrics for their MSN name, or uses some ridiculously unreadable font and a billion animated emoticons? I can’t imagine still having conversations over the internet in real time when I’m fifty. But equally, it’s somehow quite useful, and I can’t see why or when it’s going to stop. I think the internet has changed our lives and the course of our lives to come more than we can quite imagine.

But I really, really don’t want to be a fifty-year-old blogger with an MSN account and a webcam. I want to check emails once a day, and otherwise, read a book, phone a friend, watch telly. Possibly have facebook. Check the news online sometimes from work during a tea break. That’s enough internet. No more internet. But really, what would be wrong with occasionally skypeing my sister, say, or putting pictures up on this blog of the kitchen units I just built, (YES I will build them myself, I got all inspired by my neighbour’s handbuilt, home-made kitchen and now I want to try) or writing about my thoughts on the new Green PM or the end of oil or whatever.

Oh, future, you weird and scary thing.

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Thought

I just realised: when I’m in a bad mood I am now annoyed about it, whereas that used to be my default until more recently than I care to admit or think about it (by which I mean I don’t know when…) and so I just accepted it. I know this because I was putting on some music and decided to head back down memory lane and listen to some music I listened to a lot in late spring of last year. And I realised I chose that artist, those songs, because she complemented the mood I was in. Not that I was wallowing, just that happier music seemed a bit shallow or false or something. And now I pick music that puts a grin on my face and makes me want to dance because even if I wake up on the wrong side of the bed (literally this never happens, I gravitate, always, to the right, and end up on the brink, ready to fall out the moment I dare move. Weird) I know that I’ll be back to my old cheery self in minutes. But today, I’m strong enough to wallow. So there.

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I'm Going To Be Away All Weekend Again So…

…have some of the Notes I found on my phone.

Nine:

Rob says: “PESSAMIST: DIFFICULT IN EVERY OPPORTUNITY.

OPTOMIST: OPPORTUNITY IN EVERY DIFFICULTY”

(I love him but he can’t spell).

Six:

I wonder what of the music being made now will stand the test of time:? I have a theory that by and large the music that hits the charts now from less popular genres has broken through that particular barrier so maybe they will last?

(As you might have guessed the time stamp on this one is definitively the wee hours).

Eight:

I have actually developed a minor crush on that last guy becuase he takes photos of his pets and flowers :S !

Renegade Brass Band.

(talking to H at photosoc one night. Well, writing her a note, anyway).

Four:

Some kind of emotional dive bar I crank out the same feelings like cheap spirits or piss-weak beer in seedy profligacy. Discounts and doubling up so you get twice as much cliche for your cash and could drown your wretched face in the brine spilling from my eyes.

I imagine my heart skittering across a tiled marble floor – black and white, Italian, leaving a trail of shining scarlet blood, gappy, clotted, lumps and gouts and thin translucent trails between, and the toe of your shoe as you walk away, red on brown leather, pointed, shining.

(Jenny goes all emo ‘n’ ting).

Three:

‘Course you’re not, you’re not scared of anything. Box falls out of the sky, man falls out of box, man eats fish custard!’

(The first episode of the latest series of Doctor Who. As if you didn’t know).

Ten:

“…and every time we did it, it was destroying me inside…”. X’s testimony. Sex. Guilt. Oh, help.

Five:

Stressed is Desserts spelled backwards.

Seven:

Random Man At Bus Stop: What he’s looking at is the most beautiful thing he has ever seen, yet he can’t quite believe it and however much he loves it it hurts his eyes as it – she? – and now (if I ever wasn’t) I am extrapolating wildly, from my mute seat here in this bus in the slowly waking springtime heart of the city – walks towards him. The end. The beginning. Chapter One.

(Please tell me I’m not the only one that makes up stories about the people I see waiting for buses/on trains/on other journeys?)

Two:

You are the person that I love most that I’ve ever met. Shofolk sandals, £125.

(No, I don’t know either. I think one’s a quote from what is quite unreasonably one of my favourite books, and one is, well, shoes).

The rest of my notes are excruciatingly dull, the end.

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I Had A Dream Last Night

Yes, I did. It was set in space. There was a fantastic vintage clothes shop, which did more hippy vintage and a quite a lot of English rose kind of floral tea-in-the-garden Edge of Love vintage dresses and stuff – i.e. my kind of thing entirely. That bit, I think, was on earth. Although the streets were sandy like you imagine them being in the American West and there was way too much sunshine and the shop was immense. And I was in there shopping with A and his friend who looked exactly like Bill Bailey except scaled down to about four feet tall. Weird. He honestly was like some kind of doll.

And then you appeared and whisked me off, leaving A behind, and me and you and H and M were on some kind of space shuttle number – it went so fast through all these tunnels and exploding out of the tunnels into space – but that’s when I realised it wasn’t really science fiction at all, it was just all the ordinary human dramas played out again, confusion and lies. Completely weird made-up human dramas, but human dramas. And then I had to slam on the brakes and woke up with a massive cramp in my leg. I have never had such a bad cramp in my legs. Sometimes a litle bit in my foot when I’m swimming, but this time, wow. Ow. And all I was doing was dreaming!

I hate my dreams.

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