Does anybody else remember that song?
I think it marks you out as an ’80’s kid; “Let’s talk about sex, baby/ Let’s talk about you and me”. Or something.
Anyway. I had (have) a kind of love-hate thing going on with that song. Firstly because I only remember those two lines, and occasionally I get them stuck in my head. And they’re bloody annoying. Also, I hate the word “baby” as a term of endearment. If you’re having sex, or thinking about having sex, they should be a grown up, for goodness’ sake!
But then again, at least it’s being reasonable. At least it’s asking to talk.
So let’s talk about sex.
Vibracobra over at Mind the Gap has written lots on the subject, and the need for a new sexual revolution. As has Amy at Scorpio Risen. Which is nice. I suggest that people go and read, because it’s all very well done.
So we have these problems.
That people don’t know what “real” sex is. That they think it’s icky. That it’s two-dimensional and restrictive. That there’s too much choice. That people are “doing it” too young. That they’re not being careful. That they don’t know how to be careful.
Look, sex is… sex.
It’s everything and nothing.
Everything because everybody is different and one person’s fantasy is another person’s joke, one person’s crush is another person’s spotty younger brother, one person’s fetish is another person’s… I don’t know… dirty clothes pile…
and so it can never quite be summed up.
Nothing because it’s not the most important thing in the world. And nothing because it can’t be pinned down, boxed up (unless you like that, of course!) so it’s in some strange way intangible.
It’s everywhere and nowhere.
Everywhere because it’s a selling point. Because breasts make us look at things, because certain women in certain positions can sell just about anything.
Because even the heterosexual sex-orientated magazines for women say that having a sexy woman, rather than a sexy man, on their cover boosts their sales. Because only gay magazines feature sexy men on the cover.
Nowhere because it’s all fake. It’s a myth. Hardly any of us look like, act like, are those women. We don’t have tits like that and arses like that and pouts like that. Men do exist, although you’d find it hard to believe, considering their scarcity in the sexy advertising world. All kinds of different sexualities do exist.
And the world keeps turning, people are still having sex and having the babies to prove it. So the lies that are thrown at us, that we need tits like that and arses like that and pouts like that, that the few men in the world want, need, expect these things – it’s not true!
Think about real sex that you’ve really had. With yourself, if nobody else.
Was it perfectly sanitised, perfectly placed, perfectly proportioned, perfectly choreographed?
Or was it better than that?
Because sex is many things, but generally physical – and one of the nice things about it being physical is the number of different sensations. And isn’t that good, that maybe you could remember the way your partner(s) smelt, or tasted, or sounded, or looked, or felt?
That you could think the same of yourself?
Please, let’s just get over our hang-ups about sex. Seriously. There are more important things to think about.
Oh, I know it’s a meaningful debate and some things do need to be thought about and ….. good. Well done.
Sex is sex. People are different. Don’t punish people for being different. Make sure it’s all safe and consensual and informed. Done. Let’s move on now.
Let’s talk about related things, like rights and responsibilities. Like the way we need to be shouting out about wanting our right to abortion (if you’re interested, please go to this thing. I will be.) Or whatever it may be. Let’s talk about what else we can be doing.
Let’s talk about the way feminism should be for everybody’s benefit. That actually it’s a bit worrying when we all start in-fighting, and the only people that give a damn are the Men’s Rights Activists who are laughing at us.
Let’s talk about the way that despite all of our growling, rich white men are still at the top. What are we waiting for? Do we just stay as we are until they all die off?
Let’s talk about the way we’re still teaching our kids bad habits, that the minute you tell that little boy that he looks “girly” with his hair over his eyes, you’re harming that next generation’s chances to be better.
Let’s talk about sex, baby?
Well…. actually…. yes, but –
Let’s talk about something other than sex, too, gorgeous!
I wouldn’t normally want religion to enter the happy little world I have going here, but a couple of days ago I had a very, very frustrating argument with a convert. I was hungry at the time, which didn’t help. So, for the record, this is where I am in the God-bothering stakes:
1: I don’t believe in God.
You can argue whatever damned theory you like, I don’t give a shit. I still don’t believe in God. That’s why it’s a belief system – it’s a faith. At some point, you have to just believe. It’s just that my “just believing” is in the opposite direction to yours, Mr. Convert.
(Also, if we’re going with the creation theory — the one that says, essentially, “everything must have had a creator. Except God, who is mysteriously exempt” — I say, what’s the difference between you taking the cut-off point as “except God” and me taking the cut-off point as “except the universe”?)
2: I heartily dislike going into any church.
Make of that what you will – maybe I’m just to sinful to like it. Rather like vampires can’t enter churches. Except in real life, and without the pointy teeth and immortality.
Or maybe, just maybe, I feel that it’s disrespectful.
Because I can see that it is a holy place for many people, and I feel nothing for it. It makes me uncomfortable, as though I’m intruding.
Especially when, as part of the service, I am required to say that I believe in God. (I didn’t say it, by the way. Because that would be lying.)
3: I don’t think Christianity (or indeed Judaism or Islam) have a particularly good track record when it comes to tolerance.
I can’t really comment on the other major religions – Hinduism, Sikhism, Buddhism… – because I simply don’t know enough.
But it’s easy to see that the more “Western” religions don’t do so well.
All this stuff about gay people being sinful and perverted, and about a woman’s place being, well, wherever she’ll shut the fuck up, and how every other religion is doomed to the fiery depths of Hell, and….
No. Just no.
I happen to think that if you want to believe there are little happy pixies in the bottom of your garden that created the world, that’s fine and lovely.
Just don’t try to foist your happy little pixies on me.
So why is it that when organised religion gets involved, suddenly anybody believing in the happy pixies are [heathens/ heretics/ infidels/ fucking stupid] and liable to [death by stoning/ banishment/ media stereotyping/ attempts at "saving their souls"]?
Why can’t they just live and let live?
More to the point, why on earth would I want to get involved with an organisation that actively goes against my most major form of politics — feminism? Which leads me on to…
4: I am a feminist.
And as such – athough (because I always feel I should put this disclaimer) I don’t speak for every feminist or indeed any particular feminist ‘ideology’ – I have a lot of ideals that set me at odds with organised religion.
Such as, the fact that I am unapologetically in favour of premarital sex. Which seems to be a fairly common no-no in religious circles.
Or the fact that I regard the right to an abortion as a very good thing.
Or the fact that I don’t believe that women should either “submit to their husbands”, nor “be their husband’s better half”. The former because – oh, just fuck off if you can’t see why that annoys me – and the latter because it’s yet another example of men being given the implied OK to behave badly – they are the “worse half”, logically, after all. And I, as the woman, should just forgive their faults, because hey, I’m “better”, I can afford to seem magnanimous.
Both of those examples come from the man who was trying to convert me, by the way.
I could go on in this department. But I’m sure you get the gist.
So, without the faith, without finding any comfort in the holy buildings, communities or ideals…
Tell me, why on earth I would want to convert?
Kevin Doran, who seems to have become incapable of making a reasoned argument.
Or reading a comment policy.*
For the record, it is not big or clever to deliberately set up a situation whereby your comment is deleted, in order that you may point, laugh and say “ha ha you feminists are shit; you won’t let me say what I want to say”, as I believe he has done.
*It is, in fact, common politeness to abide by a blogger’s comment policy. And it is common sense to try to keep your comments on-topic. Off-topic comments are not interesting; that’s why you have your own blog.
… I’ve been thinking about cheating.
Not the kind of cheating you’d describe as the result of being the (rather unscrupulous) Banker in a family game of Monopoly, with the chance to con your sister.
The kind of cheating you you’d describe as infidelity.
Anecdotal evidence has shown that, at least amongst my peer group, the women are much less likely to forgive than the men. In fact, we have already found three couples in which the guys have said that, in theory, they would take their girlfriends back, while said girlfriends have reacted with shock and horror, and also said that, were positions reversed, they would never take their boyfriends back.
I don’t know what this means. It’s just there.
Frankly, I find the guys’ stance on cheating strange, to say the least.
I’ve always thought that love, and relationships, are based on trust, especially in those relationships we have most choice over: our friends and partners. And perhaps I have a very blinkered view on what constitutes love.
I wouldn’t trust my grandmother further than the TV she sees men behind. I have some affection for her, as she is, after all, an elderly woman and my father’s mother, but I don’t think that I have any real love for her.
On the other hand, I have a deep love for both of my mother’s parents, which I feel stems from long, trusting and mutually respectful relationships.
I have moved away from many people, both friends and boyfriends, when I felt that I could no longer trust them. In some cases I could be civil, and in others I could not bear to be in their company, but in all of those failed relationships was the gut feeling that any further relationship with those people would be worthless and meaningless in the absence of the trust I once had.
And so, when people say that they would forgive their partners cheating on them, I am incredulous. Some things are unforgiveable, and many, many more are unforgettable.
I’ve heard the argument used that infidelity indicates a fundamental flaw in the relationship, and might be the saving of it, as it forces the couple to talk about what went wrong.
For me, that seems foolish. Because what kind of relationship is worth having, when you can’t talk about those kinds of flaws to begin with?
I am a talkative person, but to be honest, if somebody did that to me, I don’t know if I’d even have anything left to say to them, as I walked away and got them the hell out of my life.
Because I found that somebody had come to my blog by asking,
“What makes women grumpy before their periods?”
In the words of politicians everywhere, I’m glad you asked me that!
So we should all know by now (I’ve said it enough, anyway!) that when women bleed, it’s because they’re shedding the excess lining of their womb, that would have become home to a fertilised egg and eventually turned into the placenta, assuming that there was a fertilised egg to begin with, which there presumably wasn’t.
Anyway. One of the reasons women get grumpy before their period is because, to shed this lining (and some blood), their wombs have mini (or not so mini, depending) contractions. You know, like the ones that make women scream when they’re busy giving birth. Those ones.
Although I am assured on all sides that period pains are nowhere near as bad as trying to force a child’s head through a gap that may not normally accept more than, say, three fingers, they are still bad.
They hurt. Quite a lot. The nearest I could imagine describing it for somebody who doesn’t get periods is really, really bad wind. When you feel tight, and bloated, and your insides feel like they’re twisting round and squeezing each other for no good reason.
And pain makes you grumpy. Shocking, really, isn’t it?
I mean, I know women are meant to have higher pain thresholds than men, due to the fact they’re “meant” to have sproglets (which means that the phrase “take it like a man” is a bit foolish, really, but I’ll pass that by) but seriously, that doesn’t mean we don’t feel anything.
Other reasons women get grumpy before their periods:
- They know that their period is due, and are just a bit fucked off that once again they’ll have to deal with all the lugging around of “sanitary” stuff that feels like you’re wearing a nappy, or means that you’re forced into poking fingers (and other things) into yourself in public toilets – nice!
- The hormones that usually swirl around their bodies are doing so in different amounts, which is a little confusing for us, and can make us homicidal.
- They know that their period may mean curtailing their sex lives, or additional washing (potential staining) of sheets, which is irritating.
- It makes them so hungry that nothing they eat, no matter how much they eat, will stop that feeling. And being hungry for a minimum of five days straight, knowing that I can’t do anything about it, really, really pisses me off.
- Their cycle is a bit screwed up, and now they’ve got their period, again. And they weren’t meant to.
This is by no means an exhaustive list, but hey, I’m sure people will add to it if they really feel the need!
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.”
You stupid, stupid man.
I don’t expect this kind of article from the Guardian. The Daily Mail, yes. But that is why I call them drivel-purveyors to the masses. I don’t want to include the Guardian in this, but….
Their columnist, the aforementioned man, has infuriated me to the point that I feel forced to counter him with an entire post, which, as he is on my List, is more than he deserves.
Nobody would “ask for” rape.
Indeed, you cannot ask for rape, because the idea of rape rests on the premise that the contact was unwanted.
By asking for something, you want it. You cannot want something that it is impossible to want.
Why does logic elude so many people?
And this simple statement of fact negatives many of the myths around rape, because so many of them hinge on the fallacy that women “ask for it”. But that’s impossible. So shut the fuck up.
And so, with that cleared up, I’d like to point out that the analagy of rape as property theft (“We fit locks to our doors and windows. We keep our valuables out of sight”) is also incredibly foolish.
No woman walks around in public proudly displaying her vagina to the world. This is what we would have to do to make that comparison logical.
She may show some thigh, or some breast, or even (*gasp*) have her nipples visible through her top, but none of these things equate to having “our valuables” in plain sight.
Society needs an overhaul. This man, and many others, both male and female, need their brains rearranged.
And lastly, he mentions the risks of women getting “into a drunken stupor in the company of a frisky male”. Well, yes. At the moment this is a risk.
It should not be a risk. Just as a man getting into a drunken stupor in the company of a “frisky” female is not at present considered risky.
What would his reaction be, I wonder, if a man, finding himself very drunk with a woman that he knows as a casual acquaintance, were to be coerced back to said woman’s house, where said woman proceded to insert a large dildo into one or more of his orifices without his consent, or in any way inappropriately touched his genitals?
Would he say of this man, “he should have been aware of the risks”?
I rather doubt it.
And that is where the problem lies.
Oh, yes, because it’s now September, and therefore, as far as retail is aware, it is Christmas. Some brave souls (no pun intended) may encompass Halloween, and a few shops will, in the UK, latch on to Bonfire Night (5 November; Guido Fawkes failed to blow up the Houses of Parliament on this day many years ago, possibly making him the best-known failure in the UK!) but really, that’s just a side-show.
We’re all told, aren’t we, that Christmas is a time for giving, for forgiving and for for forgiving… er… well, maybe not the last one, but, in general, we’re just meant to be nicer at Christmas.
But, because that’s quite difficult, we’ve unnofficially added the proviso — we’ll be nicer, but only to our families and friends, and, to make up for this unnecessary expense of emotional energy, we’ll be total bastards to everyone else.
So here is my plea. It’s not feminist, as such. It’s just being nice.
This Christmas, be nice to the people who serve you.
In the pub, in the shops, in restaurents, in hotels, wherever.
Just be nice to them.
So, specially for the twelve days of Christmas, here are the twelve things to remember when shopping:
- ” just because I work in retail doesn’t mean I have an IQ of a small glass of stagnant water” — cheers, Sam!
- It is not a good idea to antagonise the people you want to serve you; if you piss us off, we will refuse to serve you at all.
- Being on the “paying” side of the counter doesn’t make you right.
- No, you do not pay my wage.
- Actually, we probably do know more than you about what we’re selling.
- You are not entitled to any discount simply because you’re a customer.
- If you are asking us to do something illegal (serve you medicines, alcohol, out of date food, after six pm on a Sunday) don’t be surprised – or angry – when we say no. We could lose our jobs. And we wouldn’t be taking crap from you unless we needed the money.
- Being a whinging git will not improve the speed or quality of service you recieve. And we may spit in your coffee.
- We are aware how long you’ve been queueing. No, you haven’t been there “half an hour”. You’ve been there five minutes. Shut the fuck up.
- We don’t give a shit who you are. Michael Caine, I’m talking to you. You might have a famous name, but guess what? You still have to pay!
- If something goes wrong, it’s probably not the counter monkeys’ fault. They have no authority. If they did, they would be managers.
- And, for that real Christmassy feeling – if you wait until Christmas eve before buying presents/ food etc. you are not entitled to complain in any way, shape or form. It’s your own fault!
It’s because people can’t remember these things that I’m desperately trying to avoid going back into retail before January……
I’m doing these “things we need to know” things because they’re important things that either I haven’t known myself, or others have asked me about.
This is one of the things I didn’t really know about myself.
Apparently, it’s now common practice to hoik UK girls into their doctors’ surgeries at the tender age of twenty and tell them that they could really do with having their girly bits prodded.
Hmmmm. Wish my school had told me that.
Last I knew, it started at 24, but admittedly this was when Mum once (very reluctantly, and a long time ago) told me where she was going and why. Anyway, because I’m on the Pill my doctors’ surgery is quite interested in prodding me, generally.
A couple of weeks ago, they took my weight and blood pressure. Woop. So I know that yes, my heart is still beating, and no, funnily enough, I’m not weightless! I don’t know how much I weigh, though, because…. I don’t really care! Hah! So there!
Anyway, so after the nurse then had made her assumptions, and irritatingly been proved right (“Aha! So, you take the Pill; Thus, you are in a relationship; Thus, you are sexually active”), she told me that given this information, I would benefit from a cervical smear.
Basically, the point of it is to determine if the cells of your cervix are normal. Which, 90% of the time, they are. You see, it wouldn’t be “normal” otherwise, would it?
Anyway, the other 10% of the time, you’re “abnormal”, and they basically sit back and wait, prodding you more often than if you were in the lucky 90%. (They normally call you back every 3 years. If you’re unlucky, it’s every 6 months or a year, depending.) Mostly it’s nothing. Sometimes they catch cervical cancer at the very beginning, which gives you better odds for surviving it.
Now, as the nurse rightly said, I am indeed sexually active. So I am no stranger to having things in my girly bits. It normally feels pretty damn good, if not better. And I am no stranger to talking to the doctors about personal things, even the ones that scare me by looking and sounding like an irish great-uncle of mine.
But even so, it was an effort not to turn and run very fast in the opposite direction from the appointment.
Anybody who’s still reading this because they’re looking for an impersonal account to take their fears magically away, I’m sorry.
Cervical smears are not nice.
They’re not even vaguely nice.
They don’t hurt.
And they’re not cold.
But having impersonal, latex-clad fingers on you does not feel nice. Looking up to see an instrument that looks like it would be the response to the request “nurse, the claw” does not feel nice.
Having things like long cotton buds are prodding about inside you does not feel nice.
It wasn’t really a claw, by the way. It was mostly just like a hollow metal dildo. Albeit one which stayed still, gave me no pleasure whatsoever and split open, a bit like scissors, to keep me open and allow access to my cervix.
Obviously, I consented to it.
But I still felt violated.
Once outside the surgery, I felt wobbly-kneed and tearful.
Even though the nurse had been calm, reassuring and generally lovely, even though it was something that I wanted done….. that didn’t, couldn’t prevent my instinctive disgust, my feeling of Fuck Off, It’s My Body.
On the plus side, at least I got to take my socks off first!
I have had a thought. Another one.
I started my list of things we need to know, because, well, we need to know them.
And it occurred to me that while I know and have experienced a fair amount to do with the female body (or, at least, my female body!) I don’t know that much about men’s bits.
For instance, I didn’t know this:
“When men sleep, the build-up of urine in the bladder puts pressure on the man’s prostate gland, resulting in an erection.“
There was me thinking they just have better dreams than I do!
If anybody is better informed that I am on the subject (c’mon guys, you must’ve done something in that lesson when I got told about periods!) please let me know, and I shall spread the word!
It’s possible that people may actually read these, as one of the more recent ways that someone found my blog was by typing in “can I go swimming on my period” or words to that effect.
For the record, you can, you just need to be catching the blood internally – tampon, mooncup, seasponge etc – to avoid people thinking you’re fatally wounded!