Rampant Silliness: SuperCunt Edition

So, I was on Shakesville, being silly, as is my way, and indulged in a little light troll-baiting. This was five days ago, and I regret to say that, unlike Pyre of the Monster “Chairman” Thread Of Doom, the troll did not return.

However, one of my comments (“I’m not Sarah, but damn right I have a super cunt!“) had somebody asking me what SuperCunt(s) might wear; in particular, would the SuperCunt(s) be likely to wear either capes or masks. So, because I felt like being silly again, I bring to you….


Seriously, I feel like I’ve just taken part in the Vagina Monologues – the bit where they ask women, “what would your vagina wear?”. Clearly, my answer is “loose clothing and a fuck-off death stare”!

Reposting: “How To Not Be A Creepy Guy”

This was something I originally wrote because I’d realised that a good number of the visitors to my blog got there by plugging in that very search term. Strangely enough, even though this is a whole new blog, people are doing exactly the same thing. So it probably bears repeating.

If you want to talk to a woman, or indeed a man, that you’re interested in, do it in a public place that is meant for socialising. This means pubs, clubs etc. It does not mean the library, you fool. It does not mean the street, even if it is still light. It does not mean the bus, unless you are getting very, very clear signals that s/he wants to talk to you too.
Because this is, I feel, the defining feature of a creepy guy, that he will approach you in an inappropriate place, or at an inappropriate time, or both. If you start disobeying this, you are already halfway to becoming a creepy guy. So you’d better have a bloody good reason for doing it, or follow the rest of what I say very, very carefully!

It’s a big one, this one – try having a real conversation!
Topics to avoid until you’re more comfortable with each other: their sexuality, their attitudes to the many and various sexual positions and/ or quirks that you may be imagining them helping you out with, their physical attributes (and that can range from telling them they have beautiful eyes to telling them that they are “well stacked” and beyond, depending on the circumstances), your level of sexual frustration, your wife’s lack of understanding, etc.
Try to remember that your person is just that, a
person, and they will have feelings and sensibilities just like you do.
Wow, I could write a self-help book on this.
Although I personally think that for many creepy guys, the only self help they need is the kind best done alone, in the privacy of their own home.

If s/he declines your advances (which will, I hope, have been polite, unthreatening and undemanding) do not cock up your good impression by saying, “but I just want to be friends”.
This is not the way to make friends. You have long past the age of walking up to another child in the playground and asking to be their best friend. Since you can have known nothing, or very little, of their personality, it is obvious to all concerned that you are interested in them for more physical reasons – and you would have to be very shallow to choose your friends on that basis.
If they accept, you’re unlikely to be a creepy guy anyway. However, if they don’t, just leave it. Concede defeat gracefully.
Oh, and – never, ever, follow them home. Because that’s really creepy.

Actually, I’m half-tempted to blame rom-coms for this.
Where else are we taught that crazy, creepy or just downright bloody stupid things like following someone to learn about their life are good ideas?
For the record, it’s not romance, it’s stalking.
Even if – especially if – you once went out with them.

Reposting: The Egg

I’ve got no good reason to repost this. It was pretty damned disgusting the first time round. But for some reason, I couldn’t just delete it. And I’m off to buy eggs in a moment, so it’s almost relevant!

It was the kind of thing that made me think that vegans have a point.
Because, when I was making breakfast this morning, I cracked the egg into the bowl, only to see a huge, bloody eye – all that had formed, pretty much – of a three-day-old chick staring back up at me.
I apologise for being disgusting and graphic, but it freaked me out, if it’s any consolation. I should have known something was wrong – and on one level I did – when I cracked the egg and the yolk just started to pour out. Unfortunately for me, I was curious, and hungry, and thought I’d probably just broken it myself. So I carried on… and then there was blood, and an eye, and a tiny beak, and a little red patch that would have been the rest of its body, just lying there in the bowl.
It turns out that I am incredibly squeamish when it comes to partially formed dead baby animals. So I cried out, dropped what remained of the egg, backed away and burst into tears.
I felt that I – metaphorically as well as literally – had its blood on my hands, although the rational part of me knew full well that after being in a fridge for three days, it was never going to live. I don’t think that would have bothered me, had it not, in the way it was curled, looked so much like a human feotus from an ultrasound scan. Except with a beak.

That didn’t stop me eating a truly excellent sausage sandwich, cooked for me by J, in consideration of my emotional state, ten minutes later. And it doesn’t change my views on abortion, or indeed veganism. It just made me pause for a moment.

On Fathers

I saw a comment recently online to the effect that US President Obama’s daughters are rapidly approaching adolescence, “faster than Dad would like”.

So I thought I’d say a couple of things.

Firstly, that it’s always annoyed me when people call somebody “Mum” or “Dad” – or any variation on the theme – if they clearly do not have that kind of relationship with them. My paternal grandmother, for example, always refered to my mother (her daughter-in-law) as “Mummy”. For quite some time, Mum didn’t realise that my grandmother was addressing her, since not even my siblings or I call my mother “Mummy”! Of course, my gran was convinced that Mum was not answering just to be rude to her, and made our visits a little hellish. Joys.

Secondly, I really, really hate those horrible “Dad” stereotypes.

In short, because they’re just another nasty offshoot of the patriarchal stereotypes of men generally.

In long, because not only are they just another nasty offshoot of the patriarchal stereotypes of men generally, but because I feel that they are an insult to just about every good father out there. Including my own.

The two most pervasive stereotypes that I’ve found are:

A: “Daddy” doesn’t want “his precious little girl(s)” to grow up.

For the record, my father has no interest in the state of my hymen. He does want me to be healthy and happy, and to that end, we did indeed once have a conversation to the effect of “have fun, just don’t get pregnant or infected with anything”. Now that that’s done, I don’t expect to ever have that kind of a conversation with him again. He knows I’ll take care of myself, he knows I know what I’m doing, and I talk openly with my mother about being on the pill. So I’m sure he’s been informed – in general, at least – that I’m not likely to get pregnant any time soon.

B: “Daddy” secretly always wanted a boy.

When my mother was pregnant for the third time, nearly eight years ago (and possibly also when she was pregnant the second time round – but I wouldn’t know about that, as I was 1 at the time), my dad got a lot of well-meaning comments which strongly implied this. You know the type: “Oh, I bet you’re hoping for a boy this time!”  or, “wouldn’t it be nice to have a son to play football with?!” – that kind of thing.

And you know what? Seriously, my dad never cared. He just wanted a healthy baby. And you know what else? It’s really, really fucking insulting to his two daughters, to say, when they’re standing right next to him, “oh, I bet you’re hoping for a boy!”.

What, are two daughters not good enough? Seriously? Am I, by virtue of the fact that my gonads are inside my body instead of outside, worth less to you? Does a tiny little floppy thing inside a nappy mean that much to you? If so, you’ll make a shitty, shitty parent. And I’m glad I’ve got my dad and not you.

I don’t think that the commenter I picked up on was saying what they did in a malicious way. I do think that perhaps what they said was not as thought out as it could have been. And I do think that stereotypes should be challenged. Because they are rarely true, and rarely complimentary.

I Write Letters

After Peter commented on yesterday’s irate post about the TV licensing people, I ambled over to his blog to check it out. And then had a bit of a think, and I got a bit more angry. If they were only trying to intimidate me, that wouldn’t be so bad. But they’re not. It’s a form letter they’ve set me – it doesn’t even have my name on, for goodness’ sake – and I discovered this morning that one of my flatmates had thrown an identical letter straight into the bin. So they’ve sent this abusive pile of crap to every student they can get hold of, is my guess. So I’m writing a letter. And it looks a litte bit like this:

“To whom it may concern,

Today I recieved my third unsolicited letter from your company. I would like to register my anger at being contacted in this way from a company with whom I have no intention of doing business, and my displeasure at feeling pressured into contacting you.
Allow me to state clearly here: I do not own any form of “television receiving equipment”.

I have found all correspondence from you to be unnecessarily intimidating in both language and format, and also misleading. I refer primarily to the top page of my most recent letter, which prominently displays figures in such a manner as to suggest that I owe the sum of £139.50 in unpaid fees. Clearly, this is not true, and I resent the implication.

On recipt of this letter, I called the telephone number provided in the hopes of ceasing all further correspondence. However, I was informed that I may receive not only another unsolicited letter, but also a visit from your employees. I was also addressed in that conversation as “Miss”, despite requesting otherwise. While I have no complaint to make against the woman who handled my call, who was courteous and helpful, I would like to recommend that your database be updated to provide at least the option of using the title “Ms”. I can understand a need to have a title to address me by, but feel that there can be no reason for my marital status to be any concern of yours.

Your letter informs me that I can stop the investigation into my address by letting you know that I do not need a television license. This being the case, I do not expect to be disturbed by any visits from your staff, and, other than a confirmation of recipt of this letter, I do not wish to receive any further mail.”

I was very angry last night.

In other, slightly more pleasant news, I will also be writing a thank-you letter to the bus company. Earlier this week, my bus was delayed to the extent that despite leaving plenty of time, I was 10 minutes late to my exam. I asked the bus driver if I could take his name, in case the university asked me to prove why I was late, and he gave me not only his full name, but the number of the bus, the timetable it was meant to run to, and a statement to the effect that the bus was 20 minutes late and there was no way that I could have done anything about it.

So I’m going to write a nice letter to his company, and hope he gets a bonus for being lovely!

Back To The Dark Ages?

As though I needed another reason to get annoyed with the TV licensing people (3 increasingly intimidating letters, with overuse of CAPS LOCK and red ink of doom, which made me think of them as real-life trolls), I’ve now had this fabulous conversation:

Woman taking call: And can I take your name, please?

Me: Yes, it’s Rachel [Surname]

Her: Is that “miss” or “mrs”?

Me: Neither, it’s “ms”, thank you.

Her: Oh… and how can I help you today, miss [Surname]?

Throughout the entire conversation, she tried her hardest, but couldn’t quite get that “ms” is not the same as “miss”. I didn’t say anything to her. I know she probably had a script to read and a lousy, badly designed database to fill out, and I knew she was trying to be polite. But I will add it to my list of reasons to be angry with the TV people. Their demands that I call them, at my own expense, to tell them that I don’t own a TV and therefore don’t owe them any money at all, didn’t help.

Blog For Choice

Well, it’s that time of year again. We in England can ignore the specific date (it’s the anniversary of Roe V. Wade, which is of course American) but if it’s still something you believe in, why not blog about it? And why not blog about it, if you’re going to, when many other people will also be blogging about it. Perhaps studies will be conducted on this kind of thing one day. Who knows?

On the subject of abortion, what can I say that I haven’t already said eleventy billion times before?

I think this year, I’m going to go with short and sour. If you are anti-abortion*, and actually believe that simply by making abortions illegal you will stop them happening, you live in a delusional little dreamworld that I want no part of.

For those people who are a little more pragmatic and reasonable in their outlook for all things sexual, I can think of a few sites, off the top of my head, that might come in handy. Abortion Rights works to improve the current UK abortion law for women, and their links are well worth taking a look at. For more general or advice-based services, Brook (for under-25s), Scarleteen (online only, mostly geared towards young adults – but this post on rape is something everybody should read) and FPA (formerly the Family Planning Association) are all helpful.

*I’ll be damned if I’ll call them “pro-life” when I can see no respect for the lives of women in their arguments. Of course, they’d say that I’m damned already.

Reposting: Creepy Guy, V 2.0

This was another post I originally wrote on my I-Ate-Toast blog, back in the days when I was still working in Big Posh Department Store.  April 2007, to be precise, so nearly two years ago now. It doesn’t seem any less creepy now. So to all men looking for a relationship, I say this: don’t do what this guy did.

You know what’s creepy about this?
Aside from the fact that it’s at work.
And totally unwanted attention.
And he’s 14 years older than me.
And I don’t really know him.
And I don’t really like him.
And he’s slow and stupid and irritating.
And I know he’s being overly friendly to other women in the food halls as well.

The really, really creepy thing is, he’s my manager.

There are so many levels of wrongness there I’m not sure I know where to start. But hey, I’ll try!

So he joined a few weeks ago, maybe just over a month. I’m not quite sure about time anymore, it all tends to blur into one long day in the end. And, you know, we thought, ok, give him the benefit of the doubt, give him time to make his mistakes and all the rest of it, just be nice.
Rachel. Don’t be so sarcastic! Jackie. Stop being so damn northern and brusque! Fulvio. For God’s sake stop muttering Italian profanities! And stop saying what you want to do to that woman on the other side of the counter. The last one understood you perfectly and you’re lucky she laughed at you instead of complaining to your manager!
Anyway, you get the idea. Because it’s pretty bloody obvious if someone’s slow and irritating, even if you are going to give them a bit of time to settle in. But I tried. Honestly I did, I didn’t take the piss or try to take advantage of the fact he didn’t know what he was doing, because that isn’t fair and tends to make managers resent you once they’ve worked out what you’re doing. Despite the fact that he never even introduced himself to me. Something I really hate.

Even from day one, he spent more time talking to the women than the men.
Fair enough, we thought, maybe he feels less threatened by the women. (This isn’t necessarily a sexist thing, we had a female manager who seemed to feel threatened by anybody over 5’6″!)
Or maybe he just prefers the company of women, like I prefer the company of men. Who knows?
But it’s carried on. And really, if you’re a manager, you need to speak to everyone, even if it’s just a little bit. But I’m sure he doesn’t speak to some of the men at all.

More to the point, he is always talking to the women. And not even just the ones that he manages, but others too, women that just happen to be in the office, like the one from Tea&Coffee who’s always in and out. And not just chatting, either. Asking people to have lunch with him, have their breaks with him…. stuff. Thing is, you can’t really get him for that, but it’s just not the done thing. If you’ve worked with those people, fair enough. If you happen to be passing, fair enough. But you don’t make an arrangement. It just doesn’t work. And it isn’t quite right.
He tried that with me. Bloody idiot.
Him — “Will you take your lunch with me?”
Me (impatiently) — “Are you on your lunch now?” [I was about to take my lunch break at the time and wanted to get away from the counter before anybody tried to get me to serve them]
Him (slowly) — “… No.”
Me (incredulous at such stupidity) — “Then no. I’m going now.” (To the counter monkeys in general) “I’ll be back in an hour” (under my breath) *incoherent grumbles*

But like I say, irritating though it is, you can’t really say anything about that.

On the other hand…….

5:30ish pm. The counter is quiet. Vince (fellow counter monkey) and I are standing talking and trying to look like we’re discussing work.
Manager walks over.
Him — “Rachel.”
Me — “Yes.”
Him — “So, we’re going to see a movie tonight.”
Me — “No. I’m going home. To bed. To sleep.”

There followed a few comments about the lateness of the hour, the lateness of the shift, the time a “movie” would most likely finish… all from him. I stayed mostly silent and can’t remember it word for word. I must have reiterated the fact that I was going to go home and sleep, because the next comment I remember was

Him (to Vince) — “Ah, she’d prefer her bed to my company”
Me (very, very sarcastically) — “Hmmm, my bed, you…. tough call….” (flatly, cruelly and accurately) “Bed wins”
Vince (to me, teasing, half-joking) — “you could at least say “no, not tonight”… or “no, I’ve made plans”… it might be nicer”
Me (mainly to Vince, unconcernedly) — “yes, but it would be less accurate… excuse me…”

At this point, probably luckily for me, I was able to walk away and serve a customer.
After serving her, I found that I was still so angry about the incident, small as it might seem, that I wasn’t in a fit state to serve anybody. Cue me walking off the counter to the till. Explaining to Fulvio that the manager has made me so angry I really need to just sit quietly, and would he mind serving. Of course not, because he gets very very bored on the tills, and thinks that I am doing him a favour.
So I sit, and I scan food and I pack it into carrier bags and I give people their change and I translate into tourist French or Spanish or American (yes, some Americans need things translating… like “lift”) and in the lull where I’m not serving anyone, I work out that the main reasons that I’m upset are:

He is my manager. What a bloody cliche, apart from anything else. At least I’m not a secretary, I suppose. There are many other reasons why that’s bad, but I think they’re fairly obvious.
He did it in front of Vince. To be honest, I found that embarrassing. And I felt that I couldn’t challenge him on it. Because (aren’t I nice?!) I reckon if you’re going to say something that could make somebody feel awkward, you ought to do it in a way that means they don’t have to display that awkwardness to other people.

Of course, the other thing is, I like to keep my professional life and my private life separate. That’s why my private life is, well, private! And because of the way he made me feel, all I wanted was to hide in J’s shoulder and wait for the world to disappear. And I was at work. And so I felt terrible, because I couldn’t.

Anyway, after an hour and a half on tills, I was back on the counter and feeling slightly less homicidal. Slightly. Enough so that when I was next able to speak to my manager alone, after some work-related exchange of information – who would be closing which counter and so on….

Me — “…… And…. Please don’t do that again.”
Him (confused) — “Talk to you about the pies?”
Me — “No. Don’t ask me out again.”
Him — “…….”
Me — “It made me very uncomfortable. Especially in front of Vince. Don’t do it.”
Him — “It was only a joke…. that’s why it was in front of Vince…”
Me — “Well I didn’t like it. Even if it was a joke.”
Him (as though lecturing me!) — “Yes. You do need to be careful because sometimes what you think of as a joke other people don’t take it that way….”
Me (interrupting) — “Right. And I didn’t like it. And I’m telling you now so that it doesn’t happen again. I don’t want this to be a problem.”
Him — “…. ok…..”
Me. “Good. Thank you.”

And I ended the conversation again, by walking off and serving.

But I’m still uncomfortable. The thing is, if it was only me, as a one off, I’d have left it there, no question. Because you’d have to be really, really stupid to try that with me more than once. Especially after the reactions I gave. Which weren’t exactly kind or polite.
But because there may be other women, nicer than me, who he does it to, I’m still worried. ‘Tis difficult. I only wanted to do my job. Grrrrrrr.

Reposting: This Might Be Why Your Server Didn’t Smile

Reposted from my now-deleted blog, because I think it does us all good to remember what a shitty, shitty life can be yours if you work in retail…

I woke up at 6.30AM, travelled for over an hour and a half, briefly saw the sun as I got a hurried breakfast of two chocolate croissants, got into work at 9.45, ready to start at 10, worked, had an hour for my lunch at 12.20 (roasted vegetable and feta baguette, salt and vinegar crisps and a cup of tea), worked some more, bought another two chocolate croissants and tea at 3.20 for my tea break, worked some more, had the remains of them and yet another cup of tea at 6.30 for my second tea break, and finished my working day at 9.10PM.
By the time I got out of the shop it was 9.30, at which point I had been awake for a full fifteen hours and was faint from hunger. I got home at 11.15, as the tubes decided not to run. I fell asleep on the bus, missed my stop, and could barely move because my legs, having ached solidly since between tea breaks, had decided to seize up. In a long summers’ day, I have seen the sun for all of about half an hour. And I’ve now been awake for 20 hours. Because Big Posh Department Store has fucked with my body clock.

In fact, the only real good thing about my day today was resigning.

Just for you, Llencelyn

I don’t usually post pictures of myself online. In fact, there aren’t many pictures of me to be found anywhere. I’m elusive that way.

But then I stumbled across Llencelyn’s blog, and I got a little scared. Here’s two pictures of me, and a picture of her, so that everybody else can be scared, too. Llencelyn, be warned. If ever you grow your hair out, or need glasses, this is what you will look like.