Words of Wisdom

My mother told me today about one of her friends, who is remarkably credulous when it comes to the latest Heath Crisis That Will Totally Kill Everybody!!!1! (TM). Said friend asked her what she was going to do about the threat of death by Swine Flu.

“Look both ways when I cross the road”, replied my mother. “I’m far more likely to die in a car crash.”

Thought Of The Day

As I have mentioned over at the Sheffield Fems site, I remain infuriated by Carol Thatcher. First for being racist, then for not apologising, then for taking the opportunity to really rub our noses in her racism. However, I suspect I have not conveyed this as well as I could have done. Therefore, anybody wishing to read a more coherent take on why Carol Thatcher is obnoxious should go to visit Mar at The Mongoose Chronicles. Fly, my pretties!

A Different Kind Of Impulse Buy

Up in the grim North, we’ve had two full days of sunshine.

I’ve reacted accordingly:


The temptation was just too great, and besides, it was only ten quid!

On Stereotypes

A more substantial post will happen at some point, but in the meantime, have this snippet of wisdom from J:

J: You know how we were talking about stereotypes? Well, I went to get some things from Boots and the woman there was convinced I was getting them for my wife.

Me: Oh? And what were they?

J: Moisturiser and nail polish remover. I didn’t have the heart to tell her they were for Mum.

Me: *laughing* Well, they wouldn’t do me much good, would they?! [I bite my nails quite severely, and am allergic to most skin products]

J: You might use the nail polish remover.

Me: I don’t have nails to use them on!

J: Well, of course you wouldn’t use it on your nails! I just thought you might use it to destroy things with.

Another Nail In The Coffin

Because I am a wind-up merchant, occaisionally I have conversations with J that go something like this:

Me: Hey, I had a thought.

J: Oh?

Me: Well, you don’t want to divorce me, right?

J: Um, no…

Me: Well, I’ve worked out a way to make sure that your odds of divorcing me are zero.

J: How?

Me: Don’t marry me. As soon as you do, you’ve got a 45% chance of divorcing me by the time we’re 50.*

J: Bloody statisticians.

*This argument, admitedly, would work better if J didn’t like a pointless bet every once in a while.

On an entirely different note, today I roasted a whole chicken all by myself, and it is definitely cooked properly and smells yummy. (I got a bit enthusiastic with the lemon.) I am very proud though, as I’ve never done it before. I’m having some for dinner tonight and the remains will no doubt haunt the rest of my week as I try to work out how many reincarnations of the same meat you can actually eat.

If Only All Temp Work Could Be Like This

Yesterday and today, I have been working for a library, moving books around.

I get a fifteen-minute break in 3.5 hours, a cheerful and entertaining third-year zoologist to work with, and work that keeps me busy. Although it also covers me in dust. Whoever would have thought that books could be so mucky?!

I’ll be working with the Library and the entertaining zoologist every morning this week and next week, because I was an idiot and didn’t realise that that’s what the advert had said. I had thought that I was only working for one morning, and made plans which I’ve now had to cancel – I was not pleased.

On the other hand, there are any number of sensible reasons to do the work (mainly concerning money, and me having to be up and working every morning, but also being able to do my own thing after 1 in the afternoon every day, which technically gives me no excuse not to do that university work I was trying not to think about) and also a very silly reason, which is that I have never met anybody other than Kirsten with such a talent for turning up dead baby jokes.

For instance, when we were sorting a shelf of books about injuries to children (it’s a hospital library, it does make sense), we found one entitled “the battered baby”. She looked at it for a moment, poker-faced, before turning to me and saying “do you think it’s a serving suggestion?”

Jumping On The Period Bandwagon

So, this morning I have been following links. And this continued until I reached a post entitled: “blaah owwww aughh fuck meee uurgh an overshare“. How could anybody not want to know what the hell that’s about?!

And I read it, and it is about periods. Specifically, really nasty periods. The kind of periods described are the ones that make me rather unhelpfully think “thank fuck that’s not me!”. The whole post is definitely worth a read, including the comments, which are hillarious. And true:

“The most popular narratives are about how periods are really no big deal (and have become even less of one since the writer started using menstrual cups/got in touch with her inner moon goddess/stopped eating hormone-laden meat)” – Colleen

So this is me, jumping on the bandwagon:

I don’t give a flying fuck about my inner moon goddess. And, given that I take the pill and am therefore not at all following my “moon cycle”, I don’t think she really cares about me, either. I also don’t give a flying fuck about using disposable pads and tampons. You know, I’m pretty big on recycling – to the intense irritation of my housemates, I might add. So yes, I’ll wash out my milk cartons and recycle my cardboard boxes and tins and so on and so forth… but I absolutely will not feel bad about not using cloth pads.

Why? Well, because tampons and disposable pads are just that – disposable. I can get rid of them quickly and easily. Also, I don’t think it’s a problem to flush a wad of blood-soaked cotton down the toilet. I have not blocked a toilet yet, and I reckon any toilet that can cope with excrement can cope with tampons. Pads of course go in the bin, because they are clearly not biodegradeable.

If I were to use cloth pads, I’d have two choices: either I’d have to wash them out, by hand, every day, or I’d have to leave them for up to two weeks until I did my regular wash in the laundrette. And you know, regardless of how clean menstrual fluid is when it leaves my body (and it is, in fact, pretty clean), after two weeks, that would smell. And I do not want my room to smell of old blood. Also, when I am on my period, the last thing I want to do is unnecessary washing. I don’t even want to do the washing up, for goodness sake! I’m lucky enough to have pretty light periods now that I’m on the pill, which means I no longer have that horrible pooling sensation when I wake up on the first day of my period. I’m going to go out on a limb and assume that most people reading this will know what I mean, but for those that don’t – it’s that feeling when you wake up that you’ve already bled over your pyjamas/ duvet/ sheet, that your thighs are covered in blood, and that, furthermore, the moment you stand up, it will gush. Because the only thing that’s stopped you bleeding more is gravity. And when you stand up, gravity will not be working in your favour.

Anyway, the point is, I don’t get that anymore. I don’t have to shuffle to the bathroom with my legs together and my bloodstained pyjamas sticking to me, hoping that I won’t encounter my father en route, I don’t have to wash my sheets three times in my period week, and I don’t have to try to rinse the blood out of said bloodstained pyjamas when I’m half-asleep and hurting. I don’t want to have to revisit those days, not even a little bit. So no, I don’t want to have to wash out cloth pads.

It occurs to me now that if ever I had a problem with feminism, this would be it: that we police each others’ moral standards. Well, I mean, apart from the rather unsavoury history of bigotry that has plagued feminism and causes some women to identify as womanists/ humanists instead. But seriously, what are we thinking?

What have we achieved if we get society to back the fuck off from the idea that all periods are icky, but at the cost of pretending that none of them are? What have we achieved if we get society to acknowledge that a woman’s choices are none of their damned business, only to create our own hierarchy of who is the “most feminist” based on what kind of period controls one uses?

Isn’t the point of feminism to understand that women are human, and complex, and different, and that one woman’s choice will not work for another, and that one woman’s inner moon goddess is another woman’s fairy tale? Don’t we know yet that we’re not, and shouldn’t aim to be, a hive mind?

And, while I’m on a roll, what’s up with treating women like they all have periods? What about the women that don’t? What kind of a message are they getting? Do they get to embrace their inner moon goddess too, or is that a privilege reserved for the women that bleed? Aren’t we just creating another hierarchy, one which places women who bleed above women who don’t? And why? Is it coincidence that these discussions are prioritising women who show signs of being able to concieve? This, to me, is a pretty fucking uncomfortable thing to think.

I’m not saying that we shouldn’t be talking about periods. I’m also not saying that we shouldn’t be challenging the notion that periods are icky because they’re a woman thing. I am saying that we need to think about who our period discussions are including, and who they’re leaving behind, whether that’s women who have periods that don’t conform to the comforting “oh, periods aren’t that bad really” narrative, or whether that’s women who don’t have them at all.

Something I’ve learned is that we can all be blinkered, and insular, and yes, privileged, no matter what privileges we don’t have, no matter how much we’ve learned. And if we want to gain allies, and if we want to avoid alienating people, we need to be asking ourselves uncomfortable questions. And then we need to be doing something about it.

Ultraviolet, or, That Hair Was Amazing!

So, I’ve had Sam come to stay with me for a couple of days this week. This is cool and groovy for a variety of reasons, not least because she seems to have a good effect on Sheffield and it was therefore warm enough to have a picnic.

It was also cool and groovy because we got to be silly in a number of ways. We played a fighting fantasy book – I found the first one in a charity shop for all of about 50p, so it had to be bought. Also, if you are both an 80s child and a geek, how can you be self-respecting if you haven’t played at least one old-school game involving the use of paper, pencils, dice, and all eight fingers keeping your place(s) in the book so that if you died, you could just backtrack?!

Something else that is has happy nostalgic memories for me is playing Chips Challenge, which I used to do with Kirsten when we were still in primary school. Because we are that cool.

Anyway, but Sam and I did not play Chips Challenge. We did, however, watch Ultraviolet.

It is bad. It is so shockingly bad, that in a bizarre kind of a way, it’s almost good.

First off, it fails in a fairly major feminist way. There is only one female main character, Violet. So clearly she cannot talk to any other woman. No, talking to herself does not count, not even when she says things like “God, what am I doing?”, because God is portrayed as male most of the time. Also, her entire motivation for her killing spree is that she had her pregnancy forcibly terminated. We are told this, by Violet (as narrator), at the very start of the film, which is just as well, because the film itself consisted mainly of matrix-style fight scenes and very little in the way of actually letting you know what was going on.

But since it was so clearly an Epic Fail, there was no need to treat it seriously. So we didn’t. We narrated it. Actually, with our narration, it was quite good. Film directors, take note. What you really need to make your films better is a couple of sarcastic, foul-mouthed, feminist young women with no tolerance for badly done computer graphics, especially when it looks like you’ve photoshopped each individual frame that your female lead appears in.

It should be said at this point that even though I’m crap with films, I have seen more than one film with Violet in. She was the woman in The Fifth Element, and yes, I can say the woman. When we talk about films and I can say the man, then we shall be living in a matriarchy. Until then, it is a figment of the MRA’s imaginations. Even Bring It On has more than one named male character, for fucks’ sake.

Anyway, the point of that was to point out that Milla Jovovich (see, I can do research!) is no stranger to gratuitous nudity. Which is good, because there was quite a lot of it in Ultraviolet. Possibly she would have preferred doing the naked thing in Ultraviolet in fact, because I seem to recall that Bruce Willis appeared in her naked scenes in The Fifth Element, and that doesn’t sound like fun to me. Don’t get me wrong – if I wanted a man to do the “shit, I have a complicated moral dilema to make… in a vest” thing, well then, Bruce Willis is clearly the man to get hold of. But as a man to do the “hmm, I see that you are a naked woman and I am going to be empathetic towards you and try not to scare the fuck out of you” thing, maybe not so much.

So yeah, there was gratuitous nudity, and I do believe that most of the plot was based around Ways To Get Violet Naked. Which mainly involved her sneaking into places she wasn’t meant to be, sometimes going to the lengths of modifying her own DNA, or something. I think that this is where the film went wrong, because there were other things that were much more exciting, that were hardly even touched upon.

For example, the hair. The hair, as I may have mentioned, was amazing. It went different colours! Just like Britney Spears did in that music video that I didn’t want to dance to when I was in Year 10 because it was a “sexy” song and I was not a fan of the underage-sexy-dancing thing. Except that Britney Spears’ hair went different colours because she wore wigs, and only went from blonde to brown to red, whereas Violet’s hair went all kinds of cool colours, like blue and, well, violet, presumably just because she willed it so.

Also, her jackets changed colour to match. Which was amusing. Although her hair did not go stripy when she was in stripy places. This saddened me.

The other thing that wasn’t really talked about, but should have been, was the way that both she and her motorbike worked independently of gravity. That was many kinds of awesome, except that it made my eyes hurt when she drove up buildings.

In fact, if the film directors hadn’t been so busy making her out to be a vampire, Violet could clearly have been God. She could perform miracles and smite men that she didn’t like, and, a bit like that Bible story that I half-read about once, with the sacrifice of the child, she got really close, and then went back in a “yeah, I wasn’t really going to let them kill the kid” kind of a way. There are many parallels.

This, my friends, is why I am not a professional film critic.

However, it is a little bit good for me to watch these films, because I get double the amusement – once whilst watching the film and arsing about with Sam, and then again when I criticise the film whilst talking to J, and he mentions the gratuitous sexual assault before I can. He got bonus points in that conversation for criticising Kill Bill, which is what I usually do when arguing against him, thereby utterly confusing me.

In conclusion: Ultraviolet is shit, unless you watch it with Sam. Popcorn would have been nice though.