Great Leaders

This discussion was held in one of those bizarre ‘team building’ style training sessions that everybody has to go through these days. It related to the concept of leadership: examples of ‘great leaders’, characteristics that those leaders shared, and, from that, the traits necessary for a person to lead effectively.
So, with seven of us – three white men, two black men and two women of indeterminate origin (myself and one other) – pooling ideas, the following names came up.

Nelson Mandela, Bill Gates, Martin Luther King, John Maxwell (one of the men’s personal idol, or so it seemed), Malcolm X, George Bush, Mahatma Ghandi and Hitler.

Only one woman came up before I demanded the inclusion of at least one more token female name, and that woman….

…was not Margaret Thatcher
…was not Indira Ghandi
…was not Mother Theresa

It was, in fact, Princess Diana.

And it got worse. Because on the list of traits that we felt great leaders shared were the usual things – honour, integrity, strong personal beliefs, inspiring trust, good communicators etc – but for her, the one woman in the entire list?

Compassion.

Oh, for fucks’ sake.
Really? Does it have to be this way? Me cutting you into very small slices and telling the Prince that you walked over a very sharp cattle grid in a very heavy hat?
(to misuse and probably misquote Blackadder)

I have some fairly major problems with this.

For one thing, she wasn’t a leader. Yes, she seemed to be a good, charitable person. The two are not related. And as far as I am aware, compassion has never been an essential trait of a leader. It would be nice if it were, but it would also be nice if we lived in Happyland where nobody was ever mean to each other. I don’t think it’ll happen, somehow.
And for another, I, as a young, well read, opinionated feminist, couldn’t think of more than two or three examples of great female leaders.

What is wrong with the world? I can’t seriously believe that there are no more than a handful of great female leaders. And if I accept that as fact, then I have to wonder why I don’t know of them.

So I come to the conclusion that I was never taught. And I never thought to ask, because through school, I came to accept that history was and is predominantly about the doings of men; that the role of women through the ages has been unseen, undocumented, unrewarded.

I would like to research this. It may have already been done, but fuck it, I’ll reinvent the wheel if I have to.
I’m going to be gallivanting around blogland asking for people’s opinions. And I’m advertising it here, of course.

Please, if anybody can think of any great female leaders – and I know I shouldn’t have to say this, but I mean real leaders, not just women who smile and wave – let me know. If I can, I’ll post up a big list.

I really, really want it to be a big list.


On a Different Note….

… 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.


Race and Gender in Music

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…….!


An open question…

To the person from Melissa, Texas, who found my blog – and actually followed the link – after googling “banging women till it hurts”…….

What the fuck?!

Also, what were you doing on page 83 of that search? Surely you could have found more, er, relevant sites on, say, page one?

I’d actually really like an answer to this…..


A Conversation With My Brother

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….”
“Ok…”
“Or their shoes….”
“Anything else?”
“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.”


Hello, Creepy Guy!

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.

  1. If somebody makes me feel uncomfortable, they are likely to turn out to be creepy
  2. 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
  3. 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.

In New Job Land

I’m currently administrating in the kitchens for a big office block in central London.

I wouldn’t mention this, were it not for the hysterical conversation I had today with some of the chefs….

Female Chef: Did you see that programme last night, the relationship help one, where this couple rated each other for sex? The woman gave her husband “2/10″….
[chuckles all round the table]
Female Chef: But at the end they asked them again and they both said “8”
Male Chef 1: Awww, man! Could she not have said “10”? Just for the ego boost, know what I’m sayin’?
[general agreement from other Male Chefs]
…….
Male Chef 1: [earnestly] But you can’t put a Mercedes engine in a Ford, know what I mean?
Male Chef 2: If you’re crap, you’re crap. I last 20 seconds, know what I’m saying?
Male Chef 3: Well, you could keep going…. 20 seconds… and another 20 seconds…
Male Chef 1: Yeah, man, my girlfriend told me I was like superman, I was that quick….
Me: Given the underwear superman wears, I’m not sure that was a compliment
Male Chef 1: Yeah, well, it wasn’t till afterwards I realised what she meant by it.
…….

Male Chef 2: … And this couple’s been together since they were like thirteen, fourteen…
Male Chef 1: Damn, I’d get bored, man!
Male Chef 2: Yeah… I mean variety is the spice of life, know what I’m saying? Banging the same pussy all the time, what’s the variety in that?
Me: [thoughtfully] You’ve got to pity the girl, too, if he’s got a really tiny cock….

[female chef almost chokes whilst laughing. Male chefs look slightly disturbed. My work here is done….!]