Today In I Can’t Believe You Just Said That

Don’t read this opinion piece if you like doctors who “specialise in obesity care” to, well, care.

Especially don’t read it if you take exception to the idea that some people are more equal than others. (Spoiler: guess who Dr. David Haslam thinks is more deserving of weight loss surgery: an old woman who’s immobile, or a middle-aged man with erectile dysfunction?)

Let’s hope the dear doctor is too busy pontificating to see any patients, as clearly, they’ll fare better without his “help”.

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Negotiating Sanity

Who would’ve thought it would be so difficult?

Not me, that’s for sure.

It’ll be fine, I thought. J and Flatmate know I’m doing exams; they’ll cut me some slack, I reckoned. I’ve told them that I’m not doing housework, so someone else will do it, I assumed.

Yeah. No.

The washing built up. And built up some more. And some more. Flatmate went and bought new underwear, but didn’t think to wash the dirty underwear in the basket. J got down to his manky, I-need-to-do-my-washing underwear. I didn’t care. I always have at least two weeks’ worth of clothes. The floor remained grimy. I didn’t care. I walk around barefoot, but I just wiped my dirty feet on the huge pile of dirty washing accumulating on the floor of our bedroom.

J tried to cook new and exciting dinners. Even more excitingly, he tried to make up his own recipes. Those conversations went like this:

J: Can I talk to you about dinner?

Me: [pausing my revision] Sure. What were you thinking of making?

J: Roasted vegetables!

Me: With?

J: What?

Me: What are you going to serve them with? You can’t have a whole meal made entirely of roasted veg.

J: Um. I don’t know. Paninis?

Me: Ok. Well, you’ll need to go and buy them, then.

J: Should I do something else?

Me: If you don’t want to go to the shops, yes. Why don’t you have a look in these cookery books?

…[some time passes]

J: What about rice?

Me: You could do. There’s some in the cupboard. What are you going to do for protein?

J: What?

Me: Protein. You know – meat, fish, eggs, nuts, beans… protein.

J: Oh. I don’t know. Do you have to have it?

Me: [deciding that the nuances of this argument can wait] Yes. You have to have some protein. I know we don’t have any meat in, so how about you use a tin of kidney beans? You could cook them and mix them in with the rice.

I started to care. I had an exam that afternoon. The discussion about food, and what components you need to make a meal, took up a good couple of hours. True story. J had the right idea – that cooking dinner for me after my stressful exam would be a nice thing to do – but went about it badly; and, to be honest, the thought that I might come home to be presented with a plate full of roasted vegetables, and nothing else, was far more stressful than any exam. Actually, the really stressful bit was the thought that I’d have to appear grateful for it.

I mentioned this conversation to A, a female friend of mine who was also taking the exam that day. She looked at me in horror. “Didn’t anybody ever teach him basic nutrition?”, she responded, shocked.

“No,” I replied bitterly. “Why would anybody think he needed to know? He’s a man.”

These past weeks, I’ve been trying hard to set boundaries, to retain the vestiges of my sanity, or at least to save my emotional energy for fretting that I’ll never get that first that I want so badly. And yet – it feels like squishing a balloon. You can try to make a dent in one place, but all that seems to happen is that the problem pops up somewhere else.

I set a clear boundary that says “I refuse to come home and have to plan and make dinner for all three of us after an entire day of studying and sitting an exam. If you want to eat together, you’ll have to cook for all of us. If not, you’ll have to cook for yourself. And I’ll have a sandwich.” And I end up giving an improptu lesson on the different elements that make up a meal. I might not have done the cooking, but I’ve sure as hell done the thinking. I would’ve thought less if I’d just cooked the damned thing myself, in fact.

Yesterday, J had a day off. I did not, because revision is relentless. J had chosen to clean the floors as his big chore for the week. And he chose to do this in the middle of the day, which made sense, but while I was trying to revise at the kitchen table, which did not make sense. He hoovered around me, and I ignored that, although it isn’t a very sensible way to get the dirt up. But then he tried to mop around me as well. And around every other object in the room – guitar, chair, amp, tea chest – that he hadn’t bothered to move.

I cared. Oh, how I cared. But I had almost no emotional energy left to give. For the first time since he’d arrived five weeks ago, I shouted at him. I felt myself losing my temper. I saw him pouting. Taking it personally. I started losing it faster. When I felt tears of rage in the corners of my eyes, I tried to stop. Turned away. Took deep breaths. Tried to make my body language less aggressive. He didn’t stop being defensive. Didn’t try to listen. I tried to stomp on the rage, but only compounded it.

You’re the one who keeps talking about how high his standards are, I snarled. You’re the one who wanted to mop the floors every week. But you don’t know how to do it properly, do you? No wonder you keep talking about how easy it all is! You only do the easy bits! You’ve lived in a house with carpet your whole life. I’ve had a bedroom with wooden floors since I was ten. And my parents didn’t clean it for me! If you’re going to interrupt MY studying to clean the floors that YOU spilt compost over yesterday, then you will listen to me when I tell you that what you’re doing IS NOT MAKING THE FLOOR ANY FUCKING CLEANER!

In the end, I “helped” him. I refused to let him mop until we’d moved all the moveable furniture out of the room. I showed him how to mop effectively. I refused to move the furniture back in until the floor was clean. Start to finish, it was an hour and a half of prime revision time, gone. I point blank refused to eat dinner with J or Flatmate, even though Flatmate hadn’t done anything wrong, and made myself noodle soup, which took me ten minutes to cook and used only one pan and a wok. And I calmed down by reading the archives of Blue Milk, because there’s something very comforting about knowing that other people have these kinds of arguments too, albeit about different problems. And after they’d eaten and cleared the table, I caught up my lost hour and a half of revision. I stopped at 9 in the evening, when my brain turned to mush.

Now I’ve got nothing left. I’m more emotionally drained than I’ve been for weeks. The straw that broke the camel’s back turned out to be an argument about mopping the floors, of all things. Tonight I’m going to make sure I eat before J and Flatmate get home. I don’t care if I have to eat four meals today, just so long as none of those meals is for anybody except me. I’m home alone today, and even though I’ll do a solid day’s revision, it feels like a holiday. I’ll even commandeer my desk back. J’s been sprawled out there playing on his computer, but today he can’t get there before me. Where negotiation fails, unilateral decisions win. And today, I unilaterally decide that I am the most important person in the house, and this means that everybody else will just have to work around me. J and Flatmate can come home to a dirty kitchen, which I won’t have noticed because I’ll be at the desk, having moved J’s keyboard and mouse to the floor, playing angry girl music, singing to myself and revising.

This is the point at which I stop trying to negotiate for my sanity and start demanding it.


In Which Art Imitates Life

Well, I say art. I mean an advert for a song I heard on Spotify. So, remember how there was that thing about sexting a while ago? Well, it must all be ok now, if we’re meant to be judging by this song. Lyrics under the cut, because they annoyed the fuck out of me, and sometimes people want to be warned before they see something deeply annoying.

I could do some actual feminist commentary on this, but basically, my thoughts boil down to this:

I DO NOT CARE ABOUT YOUR ERECTION! AND I AM DISINCLINED TO ACQUIESCE TO YOUR REQUEST!

Read the rest of this entry »


Things I Don’t Expect To Hear On The BBC: Rape Jokes

Well, the title says it all, really. Last week’s episode of Have I Got News For You featured a hilarious deeply inappropriate “joke” on the subject of Roman Polanski’s new film. Aparently, “it comes out with a 15 rating but Polanski swears it was an 18”.

Yeah. Rape culture. Rampant sexism. Hell, let’s go all-out humourless-feminist: the patriarchy. Just what I want to be reminded of when I’m winding down of an evening. Except for how it isn’t. If it was, I’d watch Mock The Week. Or anything with Russell Brand in it. It’s difficult enough as it is to take off my feminism-glasses – HIGNFY seem to have some weird unofficial policy of having either a woman (white) or a black person (male) on the show, if they have to, but not both at the same time. It doesn’t help that Ian Hislop and Paul Merton are always there, which is already middle-aged white men filling two of the five slots. (Wikipedia tells me, of course, that my impression of the show isn’t completely accurate – they did once have Shappi Khorsandi on as a panelist. I went to see her perform live once; she described herself as “the box-ticker”, since she’s a female Iranian comedian.)

So, because as a woman I have no sense of humour, I wrote to the BBC to complain. I’ll post their reply when I have it. And I’ll award myself 10 points for every bingo card box I can fill. Filling in the “it was a joke!” square is pretty inevitable, I reckon, but I might also get “why are you so aaangry?!”, “I’m sorry that YOU were offended”, “it got lots of laughs”, “there were women in the audience who didn’t complain”, “yes, it was awful, BUT…”, “he didn’t mean it to minimize the severity of rape, so clearly it didn’t”…… and so on.

I’ll take bets in comments as to how many bingo cards I can fill.


Spot The Difference:

Back in February, Carol Thatcher, a white woman, referred to a black man as a “golliwog”, backstage at the BBC’s The One Show, in a private conversation between her and a white man. She was subsequently sacked from the show, though she was still able to appear on the Andrew Marr Show afterwards and further display her racism.

Fast forward to this month, October, and Anton Du Beke calls his dancing partner on Strictly Come Dancing – a mixed-race woman, Laila Rouass, a “paki”, also backstage, also in a private conversation, but this time between him and Ms. Rouass. This time, the BBC is “standing by” their foul-mouthed liability.


The BBC justifies this on the grounds that Du Beke has apologised. To be fair to the man, he has indeed apologised. It’s a shame he had to spoil it by clarifying it by insisting that “I am not a racist and … I do not use racist language“. It makes one wonder what it is he’s apologising for. The rest of it boils down to him saying that he didn’t intend to be offensive; that he accepts it’s an offensive term; that he didn’t think about how others would react; and that he’s sorry if he’s offended anybody. So it’s a fairly standard industry non-apology, really – bar the part where he accepts that it’s offensive, which most non-apologies don’t do.

Frankly, in some ways I prefer to deal with people like Carol Thatcher, who at least own their racism. She didn’t give the BBC a choice – it would have been very difficult for them not to sack her. Somebody like Du Beke, though – well, as I see it, the BBC are acting like that parent in the playground, who, when they see their precious spawn kick the crap out of you, tells said spawn in a sing-song voice to “say sorry and play nicely“, and then takes the muttered “sorry… that you weren’t strong enough” as a sign that everybody is the best of bestest friends again.


And, being the nasty suspicious person I am, I have to wonder whether it’s really the apology that’s made the difference.

You know, since Carol Thatcher’s a woman in her fifties – practically retirement age for women at the BBC – who insulted a man, and Anton Du Beke is only 43, and, more importantly, a man who insulted a woman.


Just In Time To Make Me Feel Great About Going Back To Uni…

… Terence Kealey, vice-chancellor of the University of Buckingham, has been an utter douche.

Joy. Of. Joys.

You know what’s reasonable for me to need to be concerned about when I go back to uni?

My modules, my timetables, my exams, my finances, my notes… the list goes on. It’s not pleasant, granted, but it’s kind of expected that you might have to think about those things.


You know what’s not reasonable for me to need to be concerned about when I go back to uni?

Whether my male lecturers are trying to look down my top.


How a man clever enough to be a professor can be stupid enough to be such an entitled, arrogant, heteronormative, sexist shit-for-brains astounds me.

Or, you know, maybe he’s not that stupid. Maybe he was smart enough to know that he wouldn’t really get called out on it. After all, it’s only the NUS Womens’ Officer who’s objected. Not anybody important, like that spokesman from the University and Colleges Union. It’s not like anybody with any power to do anything cares.

I feel stabbity.


In “Phrases Which Annoy Me, Possibly More Than They Should”:

“The mother of his children” – a phrase usually applied to situations in which the positive attributes of a woman in a heterosexual relationship are being considered.

Seriously, what?!

His children?


As though the mother – who has generally (though not always) carried the pregnancy to term and then given birth to the damned thing – has nothing to do with it!


Well. If ever I spawn, I will bloody well be refering to “the father of MY children”. So there.