It’s not something that features heavily on this site, or rather, my real world, my personal world, doesn’t.
For a start, not many people want to know about it.
And also, I don’t really want to tell about it.
But hey, things are happening, and although they’re not really A Second Thought related, giving a quick overview does at least explain why I’m not having so many second thoughts right now. As it were. So, on my agenda at the moment:
- My appraisal at work. I have to fill in a form, then we talk about it. Apparently it is the manager’s responsibility to ensure that a nice, pretty, typed-up account of the meeting makes its way to me. But as I am the administrator, I’ll most likely be typing it myself.
- My UCAS application. This – hopefully – takes me to university. I want to be one of those elusive beasts, a woman who can both communicate and count. A person who can communicate and count is like finding a dog that can speak – very rare. A woman who will admit to being able to count is like finding a dog that can speak Norwegian – even rarer. (To bastardise yet another wonderful Blackadder quote!)
- My forthcoming interview in a Good Northern Uni. In a little over a month’s time, I have to be in the position I was when I was actually studying for my A-levels. In other words, I have maths revision to do.
- My ever-increasing dress size. (And why, why is it still a ‘dress’ size? I don’t wear dresses. Grrr.) I wholeheartedly advocate Health At Every Size. But when a) your trousers split, b) you begin to wonder if you could be pregnant and c) you work out you’re not actually moving very much, I’d say that’s a good time to join a gym and start swimming. (I’m not pregnant, by the way. I checked.)
- Three new books, because I found a book voucher. One about Anne Boleyn, because I love my historical novels, and especially about that period, another about a woman’s experience of life in post-invasion Afghanistan, because it was all about Teh Wimmynz and we’ve gotta love that, and one called The Abstinence Teacher, about the Christian Right in America. Strangely enough, that little collection just about sums me up. But I should think more about that another time.
If I do happen to have any second thoughts, rest assured I will blog, because I really don’t want to become one of the many sad blogs now on “hiatus” – for the last two years! In the meantime, though, mundane things like my washing machine are beckoning to me, in a rather disturbing join us… kind of a way!
If I were going to be a full-time “Leftist Gender Warrior“, I’d look like THIS:
Since I’m only in it part-time at the moment, I look like THIS:
But the cat SO has wings.
We call her Cat. I think she appreciates this. In any case, she is definitely evil enough to become my panther companion/minion when I upgrade to full-time!
Make your own here.
And then cackle.
This is American.
The age of consent in America is 18.
That girl is a girl; ie, a lot younger than 18.
And she’s wearing a T-Shirt with the words “Mike’s Girl” above a heart-framed picture of a guy (presumably ‘Mike’) with his arms around her.
And a pair of knickers with the word “Mike’s” on it.
WHAT. THE. FUCK????
She’s practically prepubescant!
And some dickhead has decided to use her in an advert to market “sexy clothing” that clearly implies that both she and her cunt (presumably for sexual purposes) are the property of “Mike”, whoever the fuck “Mike” is.
This is what feminism is about – protecting girls and women from the crap that flies their way every single day, just because their genitalia goes in instead of out.
In the Guardian today is a short interview of a woman called Remi Nicole, a new ‘singer-songwriter’. I’m sad to say I know nothing about her music, but damn, do I love her attitude! A couple of choice quotes….
- on her new single, Rock’n'roll: “it was written out of frustration at people… saying that because I’m black I’ve got to listen to black music. What they don’t realise is that everything stems from rock’n'roll.”
- on race: “I’d like to see a mixed race crowd at my gigs, but I don’t care who listens to my music. I’m not making music for races, I’m making music for myself and for anyone who can and wants to relate to it.”
- on gender: “There are 100,000 boy bands out there and no one has a problem with it but you get pure grief if you’re a girl.”
And, my personal favourite…..
- on being compared to Lily Allen: “The only similarity is that we both have ovaries and breasts.”
I loved that quote, which made me laugh out loud on a crowded train and, not surprisingly, earned me some baffled looks from fellow commuters.
But any woman who is confident, and sarcastic, and funny enough to say something like that to a national newspaper (especially when that woman comes from a “minority” ethnic group, often underrepresented or misrepresented in the media) gets my respect.
As I understand it, she is part of the Indie music scene – which, while not quite to my taste (dedicated Metal girl that I am!), I can tolerate better than most other genres – and for that reason she is something of an anomaly in the celebrity world.
The photograph says it all. She’s perched on a pavement, looking straight at the camera, not smiling, just being – and she’s fully clothed. She’s wearing the skinny jeans that mark her out as Indie, rather than the lack of clothes that every other genre seems to aspire to, she’s not wearing that come-fuck-me smile that would mark her as ‘just another sexy woman in the media’.
After so many women like Beyonce, blithely singing songs about “independent women” whilst strutting about in their underwear, or tiny frilly skirts, Remi Nicole sounds like a welcome change.
Now, let’s see what her music’s like…….!
The other day, I was sitting with my brother (who is 6), helping him with a jigsaw puzzle.
It was a cartoon scene of about five little boys in various positions of playing football, all copied and pasted so that there must have been a good forty children in the picture altogether.
He was grumbling because the fact that there were only five different faces meant that the puzzle was a lot harder. So, not really thinking about it, just making conversation, I asked him what he’d change, to make them different.
“Well…. I could make some of their tops different colours….”
“Or their shoes….”
“I’d put some black boys in,” he said earnestly. “And some brown boys. And some tanned ones.”
I sat and stared. I had honestly not expected him to say that – he could have changed their socks, or their shorts, or their hair, or…. well, anyway, he still had some clothes to go, is my point.
“Yeah…” I said, thoughtfully, “because your school’s not like this picture, is it?”
“No,” he replied casually, “there are girls as well.”
Yep, the cold weather approaches, and evidently Creepy Guy and his Creepy associates are in need of a little warmth in their beds….
I am walking down the station platform at just after ten on a Saturday night. There is a man who, for some reason, makes me feel uncomfortable. It could be the way he has looked at me – as though, in this most urban of places, where nobody looks at anybody else, he has noticed me. So I carry on past him, towards the front of the platform. I stand closer to a couple who take no notice of me whatsoever, because they are probably safer.
And so the train pulls in. I look up from my book, board the train. Funnily enough (as though I hadn’t been predicting it), Creepy Guy takes it upon himself to get on behind me.
I have many bags, and these I spread out all over the seat next to me, as if to say, attempt to sit here and you die.
He sits opposite me. *sigh*.
Now, I have a book. The Queen’s Fool, actually, by Phillipa Gregory – it is rather good, and I would quite like to sit quietly and read. Just as I picked it up, however, Creepy Guy took it upon himself to strike up a conversation. To which my responses were:
“It’s late. This is not the time to be talking to strange women on the train.”
“This is not appropriate. Stop it.”
“I couldn’t care less what you think of my body.” (This last one was immensely satisfying to say, by the way; I hope to use it more often!)
So he stopped, and I continued to read, thinking that perhaps he had got it into his thick skull that his advances were not welcome. But, no – it got worse.
“But I am Bulgarian….”
“I don’t care. It is inappropriate for you to be talking to me. I am going to move. Do not follow me.”
And so I did. I gathered up all my bags, and books, and strode off down the carriage. As I did so, a young man who’d been blatantly eavesdropping, stood halfway up out of his seat, to ask me, very kindly, “is that guy bothering you?”
“Not anymore,” I said, “but thank you.”
And the young man, who was a nice, reasonable human being, said only “ok, if you’re sure” and sat back down, pausing only to glare at Creepy Guy.
I conclude three things from this.
- If somebody makes me feel uncomfortable, they are likely to turn out to be creepy
- Glaring and telling them off makes me feel a hell of a lot better than just sitting there meekly, hoping they will understand through telekenisis that I want them to fuck off
- Contrary to popular belief, there are also nice people left in the world, ready to give a helping hand (or glare) if you ask them.
I don’t normally do personal things here. Not really. It doesn’t feel appropriate. But this is different.
You see, I never set out to post about race. In this, as in other issues, like the LGBTQ scene, I often don’t feel “other” enough. I am occaisionally attracted to girls, but not enough to feel that I could identify as anything other than straight. Certainly not enough to post with any confidence about LGBTQ issues, other than where I feel that what I think might be of interest to people who identify as being part of that community.
Because I am so often mistaken for a white English girl, it seems reasonable to assume that at those times I have the white privelege that comes with it. So, often, it feels hypocritical to be mentioning race at the same time as taking that privelege. But I am not white. And that privelege comes and goes.
So this is to remind myself – and others – that while I may sometimes look like a white English girl, that’s not who I am. This is who I am, and it is likely to be the nearest anybody online will ever get to knowing what I look like. The man is my grandfather, and I love him dearly. He is the reason I feel so strongly that I am not English – because I do love him dearly, and it would feel disrespectful to ignore his part of my heritage.
I’m sitting in the kitchen with Mum. I’m in Year 5, which makes me nine or ten years old. And we’re having “The Conversation”.
Except it’s not about sex, because I’ve got a book for that, and both my sister and I were told years ago that while it was fine to play with our own bodies as much as we liked, it was a pasttime best kept in the privacy of our own bedrooms.
It’s about racism. I don’t know to this day why Mum chose that time to talk to me about it. Maybe she’d had a bad day of it. Maybe she’d had a bad day a couple of days beforehand, and wanted to talk to me about it as soon as she could deal with having that conversation. Maybe I’d told her something about school that she’d identified as racism. Maybe she just thought that I was old enough to hear it. For whatever reason, she told me.
She tells me that some people have strange ideas about other people. She tells me that sometimes people use words that they shouldn’t. She tells me that sometimes they would use those words because they didn’t know any better, and sometimes they would use them because they wanted to upset me. She tells me that it was important to be able to recognise it.
Mum had great timing. Later that week, a boy in my class called me “Paki” as a term of abuse. It was the first time I’d ever had it directed at me. It was the first time I recognised it as racism. And it stayed with me. I’d heard of some forms of racism, of course. My headmaster was a wonderful man, who routinely did assemblies based on stories like that of Martin Luther King and Rosa Parks. As well as the Titanic and various Greek legends. But they were stories. I knew they’d happened, but Martin Luther King and Rosa Parks lived years and years ago in America – which was practically the moon as far as I was concerned. And they were fighting against slavery and segregation and White people being racist to Black people, which wasn’t the same thing as what had happened to me, not even a little bit. The boy that called me “Paki” that day was a black boy.
Since then, many other people of many different colours and races have used that word against me, or in my hearing. I’m lucky, in a way. If only one group of people had ever done that to me, perhaps I too would have become racist, shunning every person from that group. As it is, I would have to shun everybody who didn’t hail from my ethnic background. Since my ethnicity is a confusing thing, which encompasses Anglo-Indian (Indian, Portuguese, Dutch etc.), English and Irish, it would be something of a Herculean task to find anybody remotely similar. Except my siblings, of course!
This incident, the first that sticks in my mind, goes a long way to explaining why I am the way I am, in certain situations. That boy was probably acting on something he’d heard his parents say. He said it, very likely, because nobody had taught him that he couldn’t. And so I don’t feel I have the luxury of letting comments slide. Because a society that doesn’t act on comments like that, even throwaway comments, is a society that condones them. And a society that condones them is not a society that I wish to be a part of.
People need to speak out about these things. Because if you don’t say anything, you’re just like that kid at school, that watched the bully put someone down, without doing anything to help.
And it could be a remark as simple as
“I’m off to get my dinner from the Chinky”, or
“that Paki guy in the corner shop said…” or
“that’s gay” [to mean "stupid"] or
“don’t be such a girl” [to mean "weak, feeble, silly"] or
“urgh, you spaz/ retard” [to mean "idiot, silly person"]
but whatever it is, it’s still wrong. Somewhere, somehow, it will affect somebody, and they will be offended, hurt, upset, fucking furious.
To quote my father: “It’s not big, and it’s not clever.”
Ok, I’m sorry. It’s probably not a good plan to be roaming blogland all evening. It does tend to make me rather angry. But this really was a second thought, so I feel justified. And I get to attempt to post pictures.
Now, to be fair, looking at the Girls’ Annual and Boys’ Annual was never a good move. And I didn’t have to do it. But I kind of wanted to see if anything had changed much with the gender thing. And perhaps I was overly optimistic because the cover of the Girls’ Annual wasn’t pink. It was red.
Sadly, that’s as good as it was going to get.
So look at these, then look me in the eye (at least metaphorically) and tell me that there is no need for feminism.
Yes, that’s right, folks — it’s really a Girls’ World all along, and the foolish feminists were just too blind to see! Wow. I feel like I’ve seen the light. And look — handbag bingo!!! Just what every girl can relate to… And gosh, all those features about how to beautify yourself, and quizzes about what perfume I’d be…. I may swoon with exitement!
Wait, wait… It’s stopped being pastel-coloured, pink and cutesy… what’s going on?! My brain is melting, for I am but a weak and feeble woman…. er…. oh, it’s the Boys’ Annual…..
Damn, guys, look at those colours. Nothing remotely fluffy there, eh chaps? And, what fun – the only cooking you’ll have to do is learn to make Freakish Food. Don’t worry though, the girls have got it covered – they know how to make Candy Cookies now! Which leaves you free to be a superhero, or learn how to make explosions – spiffing!
Thanks to Zenobia for this one, because it really did have an impact on me.
Because yes, it’s got some truth to it. The idea that I’m somehow special because I’m clever. And I used to think that a hell of a lot. I still do, sometimes, to be honest. I still have a very low tolerance of very slow people. I just get bored.
There are other points she makes as well, but you can read them there. The one other thing I want to say is that I read all of the Famous Five, Secret Seven and Mallory Towers books by Enid Blyton. And I loved, loved Darrell, from Mallory Towers. She had a temper – she was great! And, perhaps because there were only girls, it wasn’t so overtly sexist (or a product of her time, whichever you prefer) as the others.
Georgina – “Master George” – as she insisted on being called, from the Famous Five series…. I never really liked her. I mean, I admired her, kind of, for having the sheer bloody-mindedness to do stuff – but I hated the way she always looked down on Lucy. Now, Lucy was a bit of a wimp, to be fair, but she was also the youngest, and pretty much overlooked by everyone. And I thought that that was just a bit unfair.
And it was the same in the Secret Seven books – there was always that girl, whose name I’ve now forgotten, who was overlooked and looked down on and generally treated pretty meanly, and I just didn’t really like it. Having said that, I did like the way they always managed to have adventures just because they had a club in their garden shed. That was pretty cool.
And I think that the things I read at that age did have an impact on me. I was furious when I realised that they were sexist. I knew I didn’t want to be like either ‘George’ or Lucy. Though I wouldn’t have minded being Darrell. Apart from the whole girls’-boarding-school thing.
As an aside, I also loved the picture of Darrell as a little first-year; she was all dressed up in slightly over-large clothes, just like I suspected I would be at that age (and was proved right, because my mother, like Darrell’s, rightly suspected I’d grow into them!) and, best of all, she had short hair!
I don’t quite know where my obsession with short hair comes from. But I do have it. Just one of those things, I suppose. How strange that I’m going out with a man who has long hair…. But, then, I do like long hair…. I just get bored, or annoyed, if it’s on my head!
Back to books, and elitism, and I think I’ve come to the conclusion that while I might be clever, I’m a bit cruel and shite sometimes, too. And maybe I should think more about that.
And I also think that perhaps we all react very differently to the world of Enid Blyton.