Category Archives: lifelong learning

#metoo

Well what a shit storm this has created. 

Not long ago, I was open about some of the abuse that I have received – and it took A LOT for me to commit that to a blog. I never talk about it. Ever. I don’t talk about the guys who have grabbed by boobs, my ass, pushed their hands into my crotch, who have pushed the hands up my skirt, who have molested me, who haven’t even asked let along ignored ‘no’.

#Metoo is important. We need to voice this sort of thing, because like I said in previous posts, we are continuously conditioned to keep quiet, to find a reason why it happened. We are told that we must have done or said something, that we should be ashamed over what happened. 

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This hashtag is supposed to highlight how many people are effected, to show that is isn’t just some bint that is featured in a news report or writes a blog or is featured on a documentary. That is is your mother, your sister, your coworker, you neighbour, it is your bus driver, your postie. It is anyone and everyone and these are not isolated. 

And you know what else, it doesn’t matter if that person misinterpreted advances. Because … oh hey there, advances, you were unwelcome. Your cat call, unwanted, you comment over the cut of the dress, unneeded. That hand on the boob over the line, the time you forced yourself on her, unforgivable. 

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Now, what else have we had over recent DAYS because of this, we have have the men complaining that it isn’t just women that are assaulted, although to be honest I think it is more women pointing this out… so okay. Sure. I get it, I really do. But one step at a time. I am all about inclusion but could we not just appreciate this for a moment before … no? Oh okay… lets all quietly change the wording on the blurb we are busily copying and pasting. 

Then we have that the men stepping up and apologising for any time they made a woman uncomfortable or if after reflection they did take things too far, didn’t listen, didn’t stop. These men have reflected, using the benefit of hindsight and been brutal in their analysis. And brave. Really fucking brave. Not only are they admitting they were wrong, they are not hiding behind ignorance or youth. They are not hiding. 

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Well, now let us move onto something else that quickly happened, to do with hiding. Women, who, like me just cut and pasted the blurb and didn’t go into their own story. Because to us, just saying #metoo was enough. It was enough to stand in solidarity to show that we are not lone, not the exception to the rule. But no, we are then told that we are faking, or hiding, or not being forthright, that we are jumping on the bandwagon. You know what. SO WHAT IF THERE ARE WOMEN OUT THERE USING THE HASHTAG ERRONEOUSLY it got us talking about it and for each woman who is just joining for solidarity’s sake, 10 more are sitting in the shadows ashamed of what might happen if they stand up.

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Oh then, yes, then we had (let us all remember this is a matter of what, 3 days?) men using the #methree hashtag. Men that have been FRIENDZONED and let us not get me started Nice guys finish last Welcome to the friend zone… and a few other blogs have covered my feelings on the matter. Or that women have had a free meal, a night out, a trip to the theatre, or a new bag out of a man and … and … get this. THEY DID NOT RETURN THE FAVOUR WITH SEX. Yes, yes I am shouting because I can honestly not fathom a time, reason, or excuse for this mentality and so I think I will leave this point alone before I do something silly. 

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Well, just when I thought that things couldn’t get worse, bear in mind every time it pops up on my news feed there is a different take on it, a friend sharing their own opinion, experience, their feelings or an article. 

This woman, I won’t utter her name. I am leaving this here. I have said quite enough about it on my own FB page, and if you are friends with me, I am sure if has popped up and I appreciate your comments on it. dickmove

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Copp a feel

and think of me.

So at the end of the month, I will be having my hair shaved off for charity along with a friend/coworker.

Kevin Murphy are supporting Coppafeel through out October to raise awareness and promote self checks in young women. Breast cancer is something we have all been directly or indirectly been touched by, who hasn’t had that doctors appointment, had a family member, friend, colleague.

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We all know about the Race for Life, we wear pink, we wear our ribbons of support. But the problem, is two fold.

We don’t check our own breasts. We are still coming to terms with our own bodies, that it is okay to be confident in them, to talk about them. We don’t know what looks normal, where are we going to gauge this. We look at the media, we see augmented, photo-shopped, we see cosmetically enhanced. We don’t know that our own breasts are just that. Our own. But what we need to do is get used to them, we need to learn to love them and spot changes in them.

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We need to learn to go and speak to someone if you spot any changes. Don’t think you are being a bother, or a worrier, or that you will be dismissed out of hand. You are the only one who knows if there is something different. 

One thing that people have mentioned to me as I pass out cards at work. They know they should be checking their breasts but they don’t know how. They don’t know what to look for. What should be a trigger. Well honestly anything that isn’t normal – ask your partner if they notice changes as well. 

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If you go to CoppaFeel they have a range of resources to help you – including guides to check your breasts and even a text reminder so you will never forget to check. 

Like I said, I will be shaving my hair off at at the end of the month to help support and raise awareness – if you can spare a £1 please CLICK HERE to go to my Just Giving page. 

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Conditioned to say YES

to the dress…. and anything else that comes along.

Have you read about the chap in Bristol who set up a piano and explained to media, far and wide, that he would continue to play until his lady love until she came back to him.

Sounds like something out of a movie… anything from Princess Bride to Love Actually which a fair few infamous episodes from various sitcoms. And let us not forget the knight in white shining armour narrative which is barely questioned. It was only in the 70’s with authors like Margaret Atwood (Bloody Chamber) not questioning that someone might need saving, but rewriting the narrative as to whom is doing the rescuing.

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But let us not forget, as many men are growing up with the idea that they are the protector, the rescuer, the one who ‘does’ that is their narrative. The fact that there are more single parent families than ever has done little to disqualify this sentiment, in some cases, it could be argued that it is causing the idea that boys, need to become men who can look after their mother. A lovely sentiment but would this be the case if their father was the primary caregiver?

I digress, let us look at the Piano Dude, misguided? Enthusiastic? A Romantic? I mean what was he actually doing wrong?? Nothing! I mean what on earth, why am I taking such exception to him doing something entirely harmless, he is playing a piano. The world is watching. The media is primed to see him reunited with his love. And if that doesn’t raise any red flag for you, well… take a seat.

Some of the comments made when I shared the post : Inviting the media? It screams “Hey look at me ladies I’m a vulnerable romantic that has broken heart. I’M AVAILABLE!” At the same time it is also inviting intimidation with a crowd to take him back. There is just so much wrong with all of this.

Yup! If someone says they’re not interested just leave them alone. Being in a relationship and asking them to marry you is a bit different. Unless you just don’t want to get married ever. I’m happy just being with my boyfriend.

Yuk, he seems like a bit of a creep…perhaps why she left him in the first place, if a guy did this to me the only thing he would get is a restraining order

The way to win a woman’s affection isn’t ultimatums.

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Basically as someone who has suffered from violent unwanted advances and stalking. This is a big nope.

A. It screams of entitlement. What right does this woman have to say no. Now she can’t say no. I will embarrass her into compliance.

Compliance, this is slowly grooming a person into acting, saying or doing something you want to them to do. This can be by positive reinforcement (a la Penny and Sheldon in TBBT) offering a reward for doing as requested or wanted, or negative reinforcement where the result from stepping out of line can be physically or emotionally unsavoury. Telling an employer/friend/family member something, making fun of a person, breaking, damaging or removing something. You get the idea. 

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B. It gives others the impression that this is good idea. Either as the suitor or the victim. That big declarations of love are the way forward. That no, does not need to say no. And hell, make sure she was really sure that she is sure by repeatedly asking until she complies.

Like i said, it is wearing someone down – look I get that declarations and expressions of love are great. They really are. But they are also personal. You need to read a person. Four months is not long enough to know a person and certainly not long enough to warrant such a declaration of love. But again, it is wearing someone down and making them eventually agree. What about gut instincts. Yes, she/she may have ticked all the boxes, at the time. But no one, NO ONE is irreplaceable. And while I type that I understand that part of the grand gesture is to make that person feel that they are special. But it just continues to generate unrealistic standards. 

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C. Unrealistic romantic standards a la Hollywood are continued to be perpetuated and normalised meaning violent and abusive relationships are harder to spot and remove oneself from because, isn’t this the dream.

I was thinking about this when I switched my TV on this morning and saw Sleeping with the Enemy on. I have been accused of many things in the course of the discussion of this Piano Player. But my argument here is that he is just a lesson, as a person? Sure we don’t know much about him, but do we know any more about the characters we watch in movies, sitcoms, read about in books? They are all as one dimensional but their actions, never the less, impact on how we then interact. This isn’t to say, NO MORE ROMCOMS but that we open dialogue to understand damaging behaviours that could easily be a subtext and how they influence and how to spot when they become toxic.

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D. Yes I will stand by entitled and frankly women being shot for saying no is enough evidence.

Every day, women are attacked, physically, verbally, and mentally for expressing an opinion. For having a mind of her own, her own strategy, agenda, her own agency. Women are expected to tow the line, to comply. To be agreeable and quiet. Now I want to say, yeah know you. It is just in relationships, it is that ‘9 out of 10 know their …’ but no. No it isn’t the case. women are cat called, shouted at, grabbed by complete strangers because they are still seen a commodity that can be bought and sold and worse (?) still, that has no agency. Remember the shooting a couple of years ago in America because a girl refused the shooters advances? Or my favourite – Brock Turner who decided having merely interacted with a girl at a party gave bum the right to violently rape her? Oh and it was violent and pre meditated and he was trying to hurt her. Power play.

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Now my argument has been thrown back at me, telling me that I am over reacting and that if this is how I feel then like I said above, rom coms should be banned, and a litany of other things. Think banning violent video games and music in the wake of school shootings. That is not what is meant by this discussion and this discourse. This is merely an example to allow points to be made, issues to be highlighted. To open the dialogue about what could be potentially damaging behaviour.

As always, I can only use my female gaze and experience, I full acknowledge that this is not a gender issue and welcome discussion and discourse on this subject.

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Grooming into submission

So let us take a moment to discuss grooming. We are well aware of the word, it is bandied around a lot. We may have a shiver run down the spine as the connotations become clear.

But what isn’t clear is the wider implication of the term. It is no different than the children that we hear about. We stop and think. How did this happen. Why did no one realise, why did no one notice? Put a stop to it, what were the red flags… surely it was obvious?

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Hindsight is 20/20 = that is something we all hear a lot but it is very true. We are able to make logical and reasoned conclusions when the information is laid out for us.

October is the month we will discuss domestic violence. It is not an easy topic. It is not clean, simple, it is not easy. And I want to discuss my own experiences. I have discussed it to a degree over several blogs. It is not something I enjoy discussing. Far from. But I want to give you an insight. What I experienced? Nothing. It is nothing in comparison to what others have experienced.

However, I will share a few things that have happened, with the benefit of hindsight and I am hoping that will help open the conversation up a little.

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I grew up in a violent house hold. This is something that was not really discussed at the time or for a long period afterwards. I remember one afternoon, after dinner. Something had set an argument off between my parents. We were all sitting at the dinner table, the meal had finished. There was a teapot on the table. The plates had been cleared. My brother was sent to his room. I have my back to the rest of the room and parents on either side. There was shouting, screaming. The teapot was thrown. The tea marked the ceiling after that day. The cupboards behind my fathers chair were slammed hard enough for glass to break.

This was far from isolated. My father was a very angry person. If things were not done just so, or when he said there was a raised voice. Hands were raised. Against each other? I don’t think so. I am sure that it was voices and emotional abuse. But that is my mother’s story and not mine to tell. She left with us, when I was 12 years old and not a moment too soon.

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Now fast forward a year or so. I used to go to school in Cornwall and lived in Devon, and not just over the bridge. It took well over an hour to get home. The second bus often had Dockyard workers. One man got talking to me about … look honestly I can’t remember. But he was very complimentary. He liked my purple eye shadow (I loved purple, don’t judge!) and would always make sure to sit next me to talk. Now, at the time I didn’t give it a second though. I was clearly in school uniform the first time he spoke to me and that was always a topic of conversation. I didn’t think there was anything more to it and didn’t for a moment think that I got off the bus practically on my door step was anything to concern myself with. Luckily I got chatting to a couple of kids my own age and this put a stop to anything that may have happened. I am not saying anything would have happened. But does it show you how easy it is?

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Let us move forward to someone I used to spend time with at 16. I had known him casually for a while, we shared similar interests and he met my friends, he was 10 years older than me. I had spent time at his home a number of times and there was never a thought it would be at all inappropriate. He had a live in girlfriend and seemed pleasant, laid back. One day I was hanging out at his house and we where both on the sofa. I was lying down and somehow he ended up lying down behind me. He made a comment about my perfume and I really didn’t know what to say or do. We finished the movie and I went home as planned. A few weeks later, he popped over to my house and we went for a drive. Nothing unusual about this, and I didn’t give it a second thought. Until we had driven to an out of the way car park and he started sliding his hands over my top, on my thigh. Now I was not stupid. I knew what was going on. I didn’t want it to happen and luckily he stopped and we went home. He wasn’t happy and yes, it was my fault, I had led him on and how I better not mention it to his girlfriend or he would tell my mother what a whore his daughter was.

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Now let us move onto the biggie. You see, I had met someone and dating him on and off. Ended up living with him. To say the relationship was complicated was somewhat of an understatement. We dated, we stopped dating, he slept with someone, we slept together, I was completely at his mercy.

This is the one. This is the big one. You see, in both previous (there are other incidents but 3 is the right number I guess) there was a degree of grooming involved. Compliments, listening, just keeping someone company. Similar interests. In older men – when you don’t have experience it is easy to be blamed for leading them on because you may be doing something they expect someone to do if interested. But I will say this. That is an excuse whatever your age and NEVER EVER let someone make you believe it. Well.

This last one, it was over a period of time, and started in my home town, he moved to London. I ended up in London and because I had never really lost contact, we started hanging out again. I knew a lot of his friends group so it was natural that I would fit into his social group again. He worked in the financial district and because I was very much in the PVC and lace goth period, I was somewhat of a novelty. He paraded me around like some toy. Luckily I can hold a fairly civilised conversation and got on well with his colleagues so I was never an embarrassment. But I helped add to his mystique. And all the time he told me I was stupid. Worthless. I worked in a hotel to begin with, then I moved and worked in a bar. I then moved back home and lived with a friend. He couldn’t let me go, this isn’t conceit on my side. He couldn’t let go because I had gone. He hadn’t had a say in the matter. I ended up agreeing to pop up for the weekend. That turned into a week.  I moved in. I can’t even remember it being an actual conversation. Isn’t that the excuse? ‘Oh well she just moved herself in, I felt trapped’. How he only cheated on me because I assumed he already had (he had) but honestly? I was past caring by this point. His flatmate (a mutual friend) had moved out. We moved house. I ended up sleeping on the sofa. It wasn’t something we discussed. I just did it. I needed to give myself some space. He was still sleeping around. He did it with intent. Always from our friends circle. Which shows how fucked up our relationship was. No one knew our status and clearly some people didn’t give a fuck.

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I am editing a lot here, I am sorry. But this is difficult enough as it is and I don’t know anyone wold want to read an even longer blog but please, feel free to contact me if you want to discuss.

So the final move, my boss had recently moved and his house was on the market. So we moved in. We had separate rooms by this point and led fairly independent lives. Up to a point. I remember my close friend spending time with us during all of this and would say what a lovely couple we made, how lovely we were, comfortable together. Well, we knew each other intimately, inside out. He had known me since I was 15. By the time I left? I was 23. That is a big chunk of time to know someone. And formative years. I wasn’t in a relationship with him the entire time but he was there, in the background.

One day, I remember, I was in the kitchen, and chatting to my friends, I had made 2 calls one after the other. I had expressed that I wasn’t happy. One was a good friend, one a relatively new one. Now I honestly can’t tell you who it was at the time. But I was just saying how unhappy I was. There were a number of reasons, failed relationship, money, sleeping on the sofa. I didn’t even realise that he was there. Suddenly he flew into the kitchen. Punched me. While I was on the phone. When I finished my call he called me out for acting shy around him. How I should know he wouldn’t hit me without reason. What always comes back to me especially with this one. The language. The cute names, the terms of endearment. There is something very sinister about someone using a cute name for you. Never using your given name. You know how if someone uses your full name at school? That the headmaster is calling? Or your mother calling your name and if she uses your entire name you may as well dress for your funeral? Well this is the same. The cuter the name, I can’t say them even now. But I remember at the time, I even thought… he cares enough to give me cute names. Social conditioning? It has taken a long time to get over my issue with it. And Batman knows I do it myself. Often I will use an ‘anti’ cute name for people or a level of sarcasm as somewhat of a defence mode. This isn’t to say don’t call your girlfriend ‘cupcake’ ‘sugartits’  whatever, but it is just another little part of the grooming that I endured and I am sure I am not alone but I don’t for a moment assume to project my own experience onto another.

Fighting Fit part 4

What utterly broke me – what was the straw? It was a mutual friend, whom I had spoken to about my issues with him. She knew more than … actually anyone. Because she had known him almost as long as I had, who had dated his best friend. We had an argument and she threw it all back in my face. The argument was not even directly related to me, it was to do with her BF and a mutual friend. So why it got so vicious. I don’t know. But she didn’t believe me. Had she ever? Was she just saying it to hurt me? Clearly I was such a good actress as she questioned it. Why would I still be there? Why would I live there? Why had I not said or done something. I mean… it wasn’t bad he wasn’t hitting me. We weren’t even dating at this point, what was stopping me.

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But all of this? It comes down to grooming. I am sorry, this has been more of a release of information that something more informative. But are you reading this as someone who had suffered from mental or physical abuse. To be told, no one would want you, you are useless, stupid, you did this, you caused this, you are responsible, that somehow, it is your fault. And this is from friends, family, strangers, society let alone your abuser ? When people stand around saying ‘once is enough, I would leave’ and make you feel like shit for staying. For not realising how difficult this is. That is isn’t always as simple as walking away, even if children are not involved? That your life is more than just who you are in a relationship with. It is more people. It is all those friends who you see all the time but don’t see a problem. That hell, might even whisper in his ear, she is no good, you can do better. Who don’t for a moment see the haunted look in your eye.

Because the problem is, behind closed doors people behave differently, when they are at work, when they are with their friends, family, when they are chatting to the barman? That isn’t always the person you see at bed time first thing in the morning, when the dinner isn’t just right, or you hadn’t had a chance to hoover because you were doing over time. Because your friend’s mutual or otherwise will have been won over by them, your family will have gotten to know them over a period of time. Maybe they didn’t agree with them to begin with, maybe now they are part of the furniture. Or won them over, after all you are still with them ?

Grooming is about slowing introducing behaviour that you would not normally tolerate, of changing your tolerance, your habits, of converting your social circle, friends, family. So that the changes are not noticed. It is not over night, it isn’t something that happens over a weekend, it is a long game. It is something that happens slowly, and this is where the danger is.

If you are in a position where you feel you are out of your depth, you need help or support? Or do you suspect someone needs helps?

Please, the worst thing you can do is say ‘well I managed/it is easy/why didn’t you’

Because every story is different, everyone has their own path.

Some places that can help :

Victim Support UK

Women’s Aid UK

Refuge UK

 

 

It is so hard being a pacifist

When all around you, the world is burning. When you lose friends over suggesting that violence does not beget violence you do start to question your stance on such things.

You see, for the longest time, I was so far from a pacifist. I would have whole heartedly say that punching a White Supremacist is warranted and exactly  the right reaction. That actually, they should all get a taste of their own medicine and on and on. However, I would also suggest that a better world view is to treat people the way that you would want/like/expect to be treated.

BEFORE you try suggesting that that moto is exactly what was happening in the incident I am alluding to. No. No it isn’t. Because the person doing the punching, that is the person who has forgotten. He is punching someone. He can now only expect the same treatment. Do you see how it works? It is an honour system. We all buy into it because we are all wanting the same treatment and by even one stepping out, it has a knock on effect.

The problem is, oh who am I kidding, where do I start? In my last post I alluded to the current situation in American and have waxed lyrical over the last 24 hours over a bunch of people’s status updates and lost friends. I don’t believe that W.S should be refered to as Nazi’s and that I feel I covered in the last blog post. However, there is a question of the culture that helped create this situation.

Nearly 100 years ago, there was a perfect stop of post war reparations and wound licking in Europe that allowed the Nazi party to not only form, but to become popular, gain power and eventually parliament. This was not something that happened over night. It was not a ‘blink and you miss it’ situation that left everyone shocked and surprised.

My argument is that, look America has a fraught relationship with racism. It is a country based on slavery of indigenous people people being shipped in as labour. But this is not really what I wanted to discuss and honestly I don’t know enough on the subject. However, racism is not a new issue, it is not something that is even hidden. AS SUCH I mean we all know it, we see it, we know that WS are prevalent in America (I couldn’t say if less or more so than other countries per capita) but I guess the problem is that it has never been something that you are proud of. Or something you proudly display? Or … FLY FUCKING FLAGS ABOUT. Am I making sense? As I write this I just watched a video where a woman approached her neighbour who is flying a Nazi flag and he couldn’t explain why. I mean if you are going to be open about your inclinations, then you should be able to back it up? 

So what I am trying to say, in a round about way – racism is not something that has recently sprung up in America but like Germany, it has been simmering away for a long, long time and it was just wanting for the perfect series of events to burst into the forefront. 

One thing that does bear remembering. Trump is racist. We can all agree on this. But is is not politically or otherwise, aligned to any WS groups. He is an idiot but he doesn’t legitimise his bigotry in such a way. The WS groups which are not even splinter, they exist independently and just happen to have similar views/values…. they are not political and not aligned with any political parties. I think it is important to remember that technically they are not legitimised in any way. RIGHT UP UNTIL Trump refuses to condemn what happened. Trump who goes into a melt down over a chain store no longer selling his daughters handbags? Among other things. This president who cries foul over the smallest indiscretion, real or imagined. Cannot muster the letters to condemn the march, the murder or the intent. 

And we have Confederate statutes being removed under the over of darkness with a police escort in case of any trouble? This is the America the rest of the world just watches in a stunned silence. Because we are a little stunned that it is a shock, that no one saw this coming. But you know what is really hard? Seeing someone getting punched, and suggesting that this is not the right reaction. And being told that at best by suggesting two wrongs don’t make a right, you are either complicit or at worst, a nazi sympathiser? I mean… 

IT IS HARD TO BE A PACIFIST you get what I mean? Hell yeah, I bet it would feel great to punch someone in the face for sharing abhorrent views. That everything they stand for disgusts you to the point that you have the energy, passion and desire to knock them out. Yep. Honestly, hand on cold, dead, heart. I do understand it. BUT IT IS NOT THE ANSWER because that guy? The one you punched? It was unprovoked wasn’t it? Did he say anything to you? Provoke you? Did he make a move to physically harm you? Nope, he didn’t and there we go, that is the problem. Because you really do need to take the high ground. If we all just resort to violence you are no better than them, sure violence is their language, it is one that they use, that they are fluent in. We need to talk, we need to be loud, we need to show that we are now cowed by them. But you know what we don’t need to do? Lower ourselves to their level. They have experience and will use it to beat us. Being a pacifist is not a bad thing, it can be hard, damned hard. But I stand by it.

The trouble with the …

National Socialist German Workers Party…. no wait… bit of a mouthful… let us try again … Nazi’s … no wait… still not right….. White Supremacists?

Still a bit of a mouthful isn’t it ? And the other problem is that, white supremacists are not one and the same. Overall they may share similar ideology but generally speaking their modus operandi can vary wildly as can their reason for existence. There is no nazi party. It was disbanded in October 1945. It was a socialist party formed after a perfect storm, politically, socially and economically, in Germany in 1920. It didn’t even last 30 years but it has had a lasting and resounding impact globally.

There has been recent reports of tourists in Germany being caught doing the HH ( nazi) salute at prominent sites. It is illegal, but I guess you could argue that no everyone would be aware that it is illegal. But surely, anyone with an ounce of common sense would know that doing such a thing is a bad idea? No??

We are all aware of the legacy of the Nazi party, of the war time atrocities, there were still members of the party being tried for crimes in the last decade or so. I am writing this without doing research. It is all there to check out if you don’t know this already. Germany has spent over 70 years distancing itself from those years under the party and the crimes that were committed.

Now the U.S.A has a long history of racism which I will plead a degree of ignorance on. But we all know and have heard of the K.K.K so it isn’t as if there isn’t a history of white supremacy parties in the country. But they always acted with a degree of anonymity. They always wore hoods, they were covered by layers of secrecy which ensured that you wouldn’t know that you were dealing with a member of the group. A group that was linked to a degree accross American and has led walks, and protests. White Supremacy is not a new idea in America, neither are splinter and anarchist groups that use anti government rhetoric. Some of these parties are disenfranchised men and women who find themselves in prison and need to align themselves with a group for safety (pop culture, I have no real experience of prison life)  or there are gangs which pop up in certain social/economic climates and they find similar morals, values or are young enough to get sucked into it. Or are they fighting against what they see around them, their friends, family, neighbourhood.

However, none of these groups, anywhere, not just America, are Nazi’s because sorry, as easy as it is to use a short and simple moniker for them…. it isn’t true or the case. It is an umbrella term for the most part with each individual group having a separate identify and name for themselves.

But just lately, nazi seems to be a term used more and more, and not just by the media. It seems to be the go to term for white supremacists who have little or no understanding of the Nazi party. But this is not a history lesson. It is a request. Stop using nazi as an umbrella term for white supremacists. It is incredibly disrespectful to Germany, to the memory of what happened (living memory at that) and it is suggesting some sort of wider agency with these groups. Don’t give them the legitimacy, to suggest they are more organised or powerful. And frankly don’t throw them at another countries doorstep. America, you were racisit because the Nazi party were even an inkling of an idea in Germany. You cannot blame another another countries political party, directly or indirectly, for the high levels of racism. This is not something you can foist on anyone else. This is your problem and one you should have dealt with long ago and maybe, just maybe, you wouldn’t have white supremacists marching proudly and without fear.

Please, stop using the word nazi. It is not a kind word, a pretty work. It is a work that just brings to mind, fear and hatred.

Welcome to the friend zone…

here is your season pass. Enjoy your stay, make yourself comfortable. You won’t be leaving any time soon.

Last year I wrote Friend Zoning… and as I had shared it a couple of times with friends, it popped up on my FB memories. Now, I have to be honest. I like a good discussion on many topics and am more than willing to concede ground when I am wrong or given new information to process. This is one of the things I refuse to change my stance on. The a fore mentioned blog was written with the radio show in mind and was followed up by Nice guys finish last.

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I found at the time that I wrote them both, many people didn’t really understand what the term implied, which often led to miscommunication as to why I hate/d the term so much. I really am not as unreasonable as some of my output would suggest. 

Fundamentally it comes down to trust. I have always had more male than female friends and it never (past and present) occurred to me that there is anything on the table other than friendship. I don’t assume men only talk to me because of my gender. If we are talking because of a mutual interest then I assume it is nothing more than that. But apparently I am the strange one of this thought process.

This issue of trust is multifaceted – it can me from the partner of the man or worse her friends. Whispering about what sort of woman hangs out with men. Is that woman some sort of slut, being passed around. Surely there is no other reason that the men would be spending time with her. And this comes down to insecurity that there is a part of his life the S.O is not part of will fully or otherwise. Then you have the man himself – he only entered into any sort of relationship with you because he was pursuing you. Whether you realised it or not. And this makes things somewhat uncomfortable. Especially when you genuinely are oblivious that there is some sort of transaction in place – that in fact, no good deed going unpunished. This isn’t a friend offering you a lift. This is just another transaction that puts good credit in, which can be used to pay for a reward later. 

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Now to go with the last point, I completely understand that everything is based on a work/reward basis. You do things for the reward, whether that is tangible (go to work, get paid) or by being kind to someone (good feeling is its own reward etc). And this is of course the same in any human interaction. No one does something completely altruistic. There is always a payoff. And just because it makes you feel good to make others feel good is still a reward. So yes, I can see how the confusion can come about. And I am risking repeating myself with this avenue of discussion.

Now, I am not blind to the fact that the idea of friend zoning, or what it means at its very core, is gender less. What friend zoning, or rather the habits that cause contention tend to be at the feet of women. Men will invest time and or money in a woman in the hope that she appreciates him and takes a chance, or as an excuse to spend time with her he will buy or give him time, or because he thinks he can buy her, or simply you get to know someone with no real ulterior motive and fall for them and it is not reciprocated. So I guess in this paragraph I just sound a little pissed on behalf of my gender. And of course, we have plenty of pop culture references to show us how women use their wiles to capture a man, even if it is just to pay some bills. How to Marry a Millionaire anyone? 

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I get it, some women will abuse a man and take what she can get, hell there are even sugar daddy websites now that allow these sorts of financial transactions to take place. I would still suggest that you wouldn’t offer what you can’t afford to lose. My argument against the term is not that it doesn’t exist. That there aren’t people who won’t try and get their pound of flesh. No, they will. But it isn’t simply to with sex – friends, family, co workers? There will be people in your life that will try and squeeze what they can from you and will be offended if you suggest that there should be some balance in the relationship.

Friend zoning, or the many ideas behind it, nuances, mean that it is indeed very difficult to pin point as almost everyone has their own idea behind it. But for me, it is simple, Friend zone is a term used by a man to suggest that having a woman as a friend is a runner up prize. To suggest that because all that was invested, was no enough, that having a friend is not enough. Nothing will ever be enough. And this, I hate to say it, comes down to male privilege. It is Broke Turner and all those that came before him, and those who will come after him. That believe that if they invest in a woman, she should be grateful for the attention and become supplicant. That any woman who turns down the advances is then to be shamed and the blame placed at her feet, SHE friend zoned. It was an act that she deliberately and with premeditation, chose to do. Just because you masturbated to her FB profile picture, did not mean that she was similarly attracted or even aware that this was the cost of being in your friend circle.

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Am I angry that women are made to feel like shit because of something that they can’t control? Because male privilege suggests that women should be conditioned to react favourably to any attention levied on them? Damned right I am. That a few women, who are used to knowing that most men (and a bunch of women) that they meet will want to fuck them, use it to their advantage? That this nullifies my upset of the term and everything that it represents? That there are guys shooting up entire dorms on university campus’ because they got turned down by someone? Oh baby, please. It isn’t even a question. The actions of the few does not speak for the many. 

Making someone feel guilty for not reciprocating is not fair, or justified. 

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The Parallel Doctor

Are we all clutching our pearls…… got the smelling salts at the ready? And emails open to be directed at various institutions including the venerable B.B.C?

The new incarnation of the Doctor has been announced and …. SHOCK. ABJECT HORROR. It appears that they have chosen to pick a woman? What on earth are they thinking with this monstrosity? 

The memes (littered through this article for your amusement) have been interesting, tongue in cheek, downright silly. There has been a massive backlash against men about this casting. In the same way we saw a massive backlash against men when the new Ghostbusters movie was announced, leaked, promoted, and eventually, released. Looking back on it, this might have been why Wonder Woman was released with a whimper and not a fanfare.

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I am questioning a lot of the complaints levied at the new Doctor. Personally, not heard of the actor and honestly in a role like this – that is a good thing. Hands off Americans with your wanting well known actors to carry everything. It isn’t always about how well known an actor is. 

Now, before we go on, I best just say this. I have not really watched the ‘new’ Dr Who. And by that I mean anything really after McCoy. And boy, do I remember the geek baying for blood at the idea that there would be a further regeneration… there is a CANNON PEOPLE! A CANNON! Artistic license is not allowed! You see, we have had an entire fandom rise up in disgust… the very same fandom, over changes to something they love. 

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But what I found interesting, from my own news feed is that … well thankfully no one was bitching about the new Doctor. But they were railing against detractors. And that it was mentioned a few times, how disgusting it is that women were complaining about the new Doctor is female. I mean we are all a sorority, a sisterhood, we should be raising each up… right? 

But if I am able to just look at the Ghostbusters analogy that I cobbled together rather briefly, yes, it comes down to gender. But in so much as the detractors, of the detractors are focusing on this rather than the actual issue. The issue is rarely clear cut. With Ghostbusters, there were legitimate concerns over casting, about the story, the direction, Ghostbusters to many of us is a movie that we grew up with, and still love to this day. So it is hard to see it potentially butchered. I have to say potentially, I haven’t watched it. I don’t plan to. None of the trailers appealed to me. But it was and to a degree, is okay for me to say, because I am female. But a guy saying the same will be accused of hating women, being anti feminist, I won’t go on.

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Now, the same can be said about the new Doctor, in so much that the arguments against her being picked are not, in fact, anything to do with her gender. There were 2 very strong candidates. One was a leak from a BBC source, Kris Marshall was a hotly tipped contender with some even suggesting that he has won the role. For some reason, I am not sure where this came from, Tilda Swinton. I really don’t care for the first (My Family should have quit while it was ahead and ditto the BT adverts… see, a pattern!) and the second, I just couldn’t see being a good fit. But, what I am trying to say, in a particularly round about way,  is that it isn’t personal, it isn’t about gender, it is upset over a favourite not winning the race. These are fans that have been debating this for quit some time, debated, weighed, considered many options and but all their hope behind a particular actor. That all comes crashing down with the announcement of someone who wasn’t even on the radar for most (if not all) interested parties. 

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So, I am going to express an unpopular opinion. THIS IS NOT A FEMINIST ISSUE you are beating the wrong horse with this one. We don’t have to agree someone or something is a good thing based on gender. We are allowed to reserve judgement on how suitable someone is until they actually show us their chops, acting or otherwise. We, feminist, non feminist, person with no real agenda, is allowed to say… y’know … not really thrilled by this announcement… and not be beaten down for disrespecting the new Doctor based on her gender. IT HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH BRAS IN THE TARDIS! 

Now, just to switch up the conversation a little, I am actually excited for the Christmas special! Like I said earlier, I haven’t really been watching the recent incarnations of Dr Who, I have seen enough but certainly not a fan. I am also blissfully ignorant of this actress. But I am curious to see how the writers play this, especially considering we saw the release of Wonder Woman this summer. And what I loved about Wonder Woman is her heart. She cared, about people, all people, humanity, she loved, and felt. It gave depth to a movie that easily could have just been a bunch of people fighting each other for supermacy. But is this what the writers are planning for the Doctor? The Doctor is an alien, who does not have the same agency as a normal human. We have foils in the guise of the Doctors companions to give human agency and emotion. 

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I am not trying to suggest that the detractors who genuinely have concerns based on the gender of the new Doctor. I am actually really, honestly, looking forward to this new Doctor. Because I really want to see what she brings to the role, what the writers do. I am not alone, and I am going to suggest that the Doctor Who franchise has won over as many disenfranchised fans as it may have lost. 

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You’re so pretty when you smile….

So, I have… for reasons known only to journal keepers, been keeping my mental health journey updated here on my blog. I always feel strange whenever I do this because, it is not something I am particularly open about in most other forums.

So, I quit my, not badly paying, relatively speaking, I was comfortable, job working for the NHS which had security and a basic salary… to well.. what exactly. That is indeed the question.

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Now I am working part time in a salon and have had a lot of fun changing up my hair – going through various pink hues, and most recently a blue.

So, to anyone looking on, it looks like I have given up on being an adult, adulting in general, and decided in typical millennial fashion, to be selfish. Because we can’t all run away with the circus as much as we may want to. We have to suck it up, keep trucking, whatever else is thrown at us to keep us going.

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But you see, the world has and is changing, there is no ‘job for life’, it is rare to be able to stay in the same town, or even county of birth, that your family is within walking distance. That you don’t work 40+ hours a week with little, no or negative financial compensation. And that we are looked upon as craven when we suggest that we might want some sort of compensation for working long, unsocial hours. When we turn to social media for support and companionship, but have to remember to be careful what to share because social media is as often as not a screening tool for employers, the degrees of separation are now narrower so you never really know how is able to keep tabs on you.

Now, this blog has the potential to run away from me, so I won’t dig any further, the previous paragraph should give you a taste. It might seem silly that something like social media has such ‘power’ but it is what it is.

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So yes, after a lot of fighting, soul searching, realisations, and reflection, I quit a job in the NHS. There was a lot behind it, a lot of upheaval, stress, bullying – and I realised that as much as I want to be a people pleaser, not to let people down, pride and vanity didn’t allow me to make a bad job or just walk away… But I did. I walked away. And what is something that people almost immediately said ?

You seem so much happier, you are smiling. You look more relaxed.

Such a seemingly simple thing. That thing that people often bandy about, that people shout in anger, that people suggest in frustration. Just quit your job, we are often told when complaining about a bad day. Then you have the worry about what your partner, your family, your friends will say. Will they be judgemental, will they look down at you, laugh at you, will they understand? Or will they just see it as yet another symptom of being a millennial, without the skill set to cope with real life?

Remember. Your. Smile.

Because it is far too easy these days, in an effort to keep up, do everything, remember to eat, to work out, to finish that project, to try out that new restaurant, watch that film, hang out with people that you haven’t seen in a while. It is easy to let things just, slip by.

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Speaking now, it has been a year since I threw all the paper work up in the air and shouted ‘FUCK IT ALL’ while strolling out of the NHS. Well not quite what happened but it is certainly how I would like to remember it.

I really won’t lie, it is hard, so hard. I am working less, earning less, working in a completely alien environment that I also love. I love my work. It is rewarding, I love the people I work for. Of course, I could get another job or 2. But then I would end up in the same place I was this time last year. Juggling jobs, not getting a moment to stop, pause, enjoy life.

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So I guess, I sound like one of those pesky millennial snow flakes, not able to handle being a grownup, running away with responsibilities. But screw it. I want to be happy. I still see people I have worked with, and they still tell me I am happier. I see people I worked with, who just don’t seem happy at all. I honestly understand that not everyone is in a position to change things up on a whim (and trust me I didn’t do it on a whim) but on the other hand, only you can change your circumstances.

Revising Childhood

So it is that time of year, we are over the last year and all the trauma, we have either completely ignored or already forgotten our resolutions. We are realising the fresh new year is already nearing the end of it’s first month.

Have you noticed the nostalgic posts gathering steam? First FB photo versus current profile, memories, anniversaries of albums or lists of albums? I will freely admit I did a round of albums that meant something to me as a teenager. Which lead me to the following conclusion. I have really great taste in music. And I am old.

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You see, I totally understand looking back at what was, what might have been, could have been. And we are now far enough removed from 2016, but still close enough that we are reflective. We look at where we are, what we have managed to do, what have we changed in the last 12 months. Did you do anything we meant to do?

In our show this week (17th Jan) we were looking at age, and the question on what you would tell your teenage self. And what is age?

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One question that was asked on the show – perfect age. I mean you can totally over think this, look at your experiences at different ages or project where you wish or expect to be at a certain age. Me? 25 – I always default to being 25, I know, I know – you are all shocked to hear I am even that old. But why do I default to that age? Well to be perfectly fair it used to be 21, but I realised that I really couldn’t pull that off any more. I mean is there an age where you can honestly, hand on heart state that everything, EVERYTHING – and I mean the fucking planets aligned and angels sang a chorus, was perfect? Guessing the answer is no. But it isn’t really the question Audrey was asking. It wasn’t directed at our own experiences, but rather at the perceived age that we need to or want to be to gain what we need/want. So yes, I still stand by 25. Because it is long enough to get an education, and have experience. Although when I reflect at being back in a minimum wage job, I wonder at my life choices.

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Now when we look at what we would have liked to have known as a teenager, what life, experience, wisdom, age and reflection has taught us? Well.. nope. I wouldn’t. I may well be in the minority in this. But as much as there are several missed opportunities in my life, both work and love. I have moments, I am sure we all do, where we think about what might have been. But that is a fantasy and not reality. Because… and my not so inner hippy coming out now – life if a journey. The person we are today is a product of everything we have been through up to this point. So to change even one thing, will have a massive consequence. It sounds simple enough to say ‘be more confident’ ‘you will do the thing’ ‘don’t go out drinking instead of studying’ but actually… that all leads you to the person you are today. And by dwelling on what might have been, or what you should have done, you are missing a very important point. You are the only person who is responsible for your journey. And you need to realise, accept and understand this.

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Now something that I want to round this out with, perceived age, what you needed to or should have done, and actually dating. For me to say I will date someone younger than me. at my age? Not an issue. I have got to an age now that I would say that there are much more important things than age when looking at a partner. When you are say, 20 the issue is slightly more … obvious. So while we could white wash age, and state it is just a number, I think the point that we miss is that we need to have LIVED to be able to do that, and no amount of soul search, reflection or wishful thinking will help that. With age comes wisdom. We are able to make informed choices, we are basing them on experience not just our own, but experiences our peers have gone through and that we are able to critically analyse.

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What I am slowly getting at, in a way so round about you probably didn’t see it coming is that we need to stop assigning such importance to age. Age, like maturity, is not something easily assigned. There is no right time, no end time, no cut off point.Equally there is no point in looking back and wishing. All we can do is be flexible in our approach to all things and know that we are the architect of our destiny and journey. Blame can be placed no where else.

With that in mind – be at peace with what has been. It is in the past and has become part of the person you are today. But you can do nothing to change the past. You are though, in control of your future – ENJOY!

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