The Moral Of This Story Is: Don’t Be A Pillock On The Train

I spent my formative years travelling around London. You’d think I’d be used to agressive men metaphorically (or indeed literally) dick-flailing in public. But.

  1. I haven’t had to deal with this sort of nonsense on a regular basis since I left our wonderful capital over a year ago.
  2. It’s fucking scary.

The train last night was basically Dick-Flailing Central. There was one drugged-up bloke screaming “we hate Rotherham” and yelling about football results and the miners’ strike (which, since it happened in ’84, he probably wasn’t even born for) and another six guys (boys, really) being drunk and loud. And there was yelling, and homophobia, and racism, and sexism, and all of the usual things that makes me stabitty. And the guy sitting next to me was laughing. Not shit-I’m-a-bit-scared laughing, but outright isn’t-this-hillarious laughing. I nearly punched him. Except, you know, that I might have ended up a little bit dead.

Anyway. Eventually the boys goaded each other into a fight. Involving a glass bottle. Which luckily didn’t get used, or broken. And I wasn’t too sad to see them getting kicked. It was a bit like a fight between UKIP and the BNP – you wanted them both to lose.

But glass bottles and drunken angry boy-men are a danger to everyone, sadly, not just themselves. And it wouldn’t have taken much to set Bottle-Guy off again. Like, say, someone looking at him in a funny way.

So with the carriage totally silent, and – no shit – every single person in the carriage looking at me, I walked out. Out of the carriage, past Bottle-Guy, Miner-Guy and all of their little friends, past every other fucker who’d done nothing, and down to the other end of the train. Where I found the conductors, tried to tell them what was happening and – burst into tears. Shaking, crying, the works.

How humilliating. And how fucking terrifying.

The good news is that this persuaded them to get the police out.

The other good news is that at least one of them will be charged for fare evasion.

The bad news is that nothing’s likely to happen about the guy who was waving the bottle around.


But. They were trying to get to Sheffield. They got arrested a stop down the line. The last thing the conductor said to me was that he sincerely hoped the police would keep them nicked until the last train had gone. And at least one of them will be fined for it. So. The moral of the story is: don’t be a pillock on the train. Otherwise, I’ll do my best to get you arrested.


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.


Appropriate Sentence?

From the BBC: a former head teacher pleaded guilty to possessing child pornography – 457 indecent images, to be precise, with “a dozen” at “the more serious end of the spectrum”.

He’s been given 150 hours of community service and 3 years of probation, which bans him from contact with children under 16 and monitors his computer use.

“Sheriff Alistair Noble, sitting in Edinburgh Sheriff Court on Tuesday, said the sentence was appropriate in view of his exemplary service as a teacher, the impact on his family and the fact that a relatively small number of images were involved, and a very small number at the highest levels of pornography.”

Doesn’t that imply that the sentence given was lenient?

And isn’t the fact that he was a head teacher with indecent images of children a good reason to give him a less lenient sentence? My brain, it melts.


I Have No Need To Search For Misogyny

Because it normally finds me.

I was really enjoying the new Nickelback album. And then Last Contestant started playing.


First line?

“I judge by what she’s wearing …”

Well, that got my attention pretty fucking quickly, as you can imagine.

It didn’t get any better either. To be honest, it feels like listening to a troll singing. And that’s not a nice experience.

Have the full lyrics, with a Patriarchy – English translation:


I judge by what she’s wearing
Just how many heads I’m tearing
Off of assholes coming on to her

I have anger management problems caused by jealousy. I believe that the clothes this woman wears are entirely responsible for the reactions of others.

Each night seems like it’s getting worse
And I wish she’d take the night off
So I don’t have to fight off
Every asshole coming on to her

I am fast losing touch with reality, and feel that it is my right to respond with violence to any person I assume to be a threat. I believe the woman in question to be my property.

It happens every night she works
They’ll go and ask the DJ
Find out just what would she say
If they all tried coming on to her

This woman works in a bar or club, and many of the drunken men there also act in a manner that appears to treat her as property; but not mine. This bothers me.


Don’t they know it’s never going to work
They think they’ll get inside her
With every drink they buy her
As they all try coming on to her
This time somebody’s getting hurt

I believe that she will not be interested in advances made to her by other men. However, I am still angry that these men would think about this woman in a sexual way.


Here comes the next contestant

[CHORUS]
Is that your hand on my girlfriend?
Is that your hand?

I have claimed this woman. She is something that I own, and I have not given my permission for you to touch her. As my girlfriend, she has no autonomy and is not capable of telling you to fuck off herself; therefore, I shall do it for her.

I wish you’d do it again
I’ll watch you leave here limping
I wish you’d do it again
I’ll watch you leave here limping
There goes the next contestant

I even fear the ladies
They’re cool but twice as crazy
Just as bad for coming on to her

I am terrified that my girlfriend might undermine my masculinity by leaving me for a woman. I also believe that, while lesbians may exist to serve as wank fodder for heterosexual men, it is crazy that they should exist in real life. Again, this causes me to doubt my masculinity.

Don’t they know it’s never going to work
Each time she bats an eyelash
Somebody’s grabbing her ass
Everyone keeps coming on to her
This time somebody’s getting hurt

My girlfriend is often sexually assaulted whilst at work. However, instead of advising her to take this up with HR, I have decided that the appropriate way to deal with this problem is for me to injure others. Although this is also a criminal offense and will not help the problem, it will reassert my masculinity and make me feel better. My feelings are, of course, the most important thing in this situation.

Here comes the next contestant

[CHORUS]

I’m hating what she’s wearing
Everybody here keeps staring
Can’t wait ’til they get what they deserve
This time somebody’s getting hurt

Although I am deeply angry that other people should stare at my girlfriend, I am once again blaming her outfit, rather than the people concerned. However, I am confused, since I also feel that the people staring deserve to be punished for their actions. I can only express this inner confusion with violence.

Here comes the next contestant

[CHORUS]
I wish you’d do it again
Each night seems like it’s getting worse
I wish you’d do it again
This time somebody’s getting hurt

There goes the next contestant

I am a NiceGuy (TM).


Thankfully, most of the other songs on the album are ok.

Well, there are references to stalking women (Follow You Home), the male ownership of women (Animals – “I tried to tell her dad it was her mouth that I was kissing”) and women as being willing to substitute sex for money (Rockstar – “the girls come easy”…”every good gold digger’s gonna wind up there/ Every playboy bunny”)…

But on the plus side, the other seven songs manage not to annoy me. And, to be honest, although I don’t listen to Follow You Home – it also fails for using the word “princess” – I can tolerate the Animals and Rockstar, because I can tune out one line of a song. Just.

Still. I’m very, very glad I only paid £5 for it. If I had to sum it up, I’d have to say…


Dear Nickelback:

Being respectful towards women; UR DOIN IT RONG

Rachel.


So, remember my Troll?

Well, there were a few of us in the pub playing a board game this evening. One of the women had to leave, and the Troll took over her character. So, for a little while, a couple of others playing continued to refer to the character by the woman’s name. Cue this exchange:

Troll: “Hey! Can you stop calling me that? It makes me sound like a girl!”

Me: [sarcastically] “Because, of course, being a girl is such a bad thing to be…”

Troll: “Well, it is when you’re a man.”

*headdesk*

This, my friends, is why I’m feminist.


Troll Poking – A Bit Like Bear Baiting, But Legal

So, a couple of days ago I promised you the story of the Troll. I’ve now sorted out my coursework for the week and done my washing, so what better way to celebrate than to mock the unfortunate?

As I mentioned last time, his statements boiled down to:

“because I, personally, have noticed that more men than women attend Laser Quest when I am there, this must mean that men, on average, are more aggressive than women.”

But this doesn’t give the whole picture.

He started out with the hilariously bad generalisation of:

“because…. [etc] … this must mean that all men are more aggressive than all women, and women are not aggressive.”

Being the mathematician that I am, this was almost boringly easy to refute. I am a woman; I had just come from sword-training. I am quite clearly aggressive and, as I am a woman, this disproves his statement. Yawn.

So, he revised it to the statement I initially linked to. Hurrah! I thought, a modicum of sucess. The rest should be easy.
…… Not so much.

Having conceded his wording was shit, he then proceded to argue in such a way that I was able to play Bingo* while he did so.

Sadly, his statements have appeared (in modified forms) on so many different bingo cards that I couldn’t win using just one.

“…But I’m the only one here [as a white, straight male] who’s being objective – you just can’t be”

“You haven’t proved to me why my [completely unfounded] statement is wrong”

“I’m a feminist too! Just not, you know, radical.”

“Hah! You’re so gay!” [to the man arguing with us]


“I don’t see gender”


“But it’s our genetics that make us this way [male or female]!”

[also, I feel it’s worth mentioning that genes =/= chromosomes. And therefore his statment was not only inane, and present on many Bingo cards in the form of “biology”, but factually wrong as well.]

“Yes, I think I’ve probably said in the past that I don’t see colour”


“I hate the way people [who aren’t white, straight, male] have to talk about their “oppression” all the time. I don’t think it’s productive.”

The problem was that pretty much everything he said was bollocks. And no, I don’t think I need to prove it. I think it’s fairly bloody obvious.
Also, he suffered from verbal diarrhoea. I don’t think he expected me to lean forward, glare and say loudly “are you going to let me finish my sentence?”. And then, when he carried on talking, to tell him in no uncertain terms to STFU. In fact, I may have actually said “shut the fuck up”.

To be honest, I’m pretty much past the stage of being shocked that people think and act this way. I know they do. I see it online all the time.

What did annoy me was that he claimed to be feminist, when he was clearly no such thing.
Oh, and him accusing me of having “no knowledge of feminist literature” because I had not read one book by Judith Butler.
At that point, I started shouting at him. I reeled off – very loudly – a list of books and people that I read or have read. Kate Harding, be proud, you were on the list. Even though, as we all know, I am Kate Harding! Cunt was also on the list, which – unsurprisingly – made a fair few people turn round and stare. Troll looked embarressed; I did not. Victory for Rachel!

I know, in the end, that I did not change his mind. I also know that he was intellectually dishonest and blinkered to the point of blindness about his own privellege. So I think I’ve decided that I don’t really care. You can’t win ’em all. But it did bring home to me the importance of feminism in my life. And, you know, the way that the arguments that I make, make sense!

*By “Bingo”, I mean the sets of cards entitled “Anti-Feminist Bingo” and the like. Links to bingo cards are best found through The Curvature, which has the largest list I’ve yet come across.


So Many Thoughts

I want to blog about so many things right now that I can’t settle to blog about any of them. Which is annoying.

I want to talk about the way that there’s an evil child terrorising my brother, and the way that I simultaneously blame the parents and the patriarchy.

I want to talk about the utter relief that I don’t have to deal with the Evil Porter that J rather uncharitably christened Nobby Nobbs. J is of the opinion that Evil Porter, like Nobby, should be “disqualified from the human race” – more because Evil Porter annoyed me than because he “shoved”, though, it has to be said.

I want to talk about the way I am continuously getting away with calmly telling people that actually, I’m a clever person, and how happy that makes me. Especially since it happens to be true.

I want to talk about sexuality again. I know that I once said that surely there must be other things to talk about, but hey, if there’s only seven types of story to be told, I think I can be forgiven for returning to sexuality as a topic to rant about.

I want to talk about the forthcoming London Mayoral Elections, and the way I get to vote for the first time. And I want to mention the discussion over dinner, which culminated in my sister saying in frustration, “women didn’t chain themselves to railings to give me the vote. They did it to give me the choice!“.

And I want to talk about the way I’m going to university, and what that might mean for me.

Right now, though, I’m going to read.


The "You’re Not Really A Size 10 Anymore" Pile

Because I am nothing if not clear-eyed and level-headed, and after looking at my jeans collection, I realised I might have to make a few wardrobe adjustments.
Like throwing away the jeans that have ripped so far around that on one side, they’re practically hot pants. Need I point out that hot pants are not hot? In either sense of the word, actually, which is useful to bear in mind, as it is only March, which means “Winter” in the UK.

Actually, most months mean “Winter” in the UK, with the notable exceptions of January (which is uniformly grey, rather than cold, to trick you into thinking that the start of the new calendar year means that it’s Spring), May (which tends to have the hottest weather you’ll get that year, to really annoy students since they have to work through it rather than having time off like they usually do) and August (which feels like Spring again, just to confuse people).

But that’s not the point.

The point is that one of the largest piles of old clothes is the “You’re Not Really A Size 10 Anymore” pile.
This pile annoys me for the simple reason that when I was a size 10, I hardly wore these things because they were nice and I was never going anywhere special.

I have officially learned my lesson and after I have disposed of these clothes with my friends that are size 1os, I shall remember to always wear my nice clothes in preference to my ordinary ones. That way, if I change size again, at least I can console myself with the thought that I actually got some wear out of the interesting clothes, and the other ones were a bit boring anyway.

On the other hand, one of the other piles is the “I Know You Loved Those Clothes But They’ve Got More Holes Than A Cheese Grater”. So, swings and roundabouts, I suppose.

Oh, and on a different note, the porter came to me today, and, looking very nervous and not very happy, told me that he’d been thinking things over and what with him doubting my honesty and the fact I’d told him in no uncertain terms that he would never get my number, he’d decided he wanted to “keep to himself”.
I have to say, I’m slightly confused by this as I have been doing my best to treat our two “little chats” as unpleasant interludes – as in, I haven’t referred to them after the event and I’ve been careful to always be civil, so I say good morning and so on regardless of what has been said before.
Perhaps he thinks I’m taking the piss.
Perhaps I should.
All the same, I do believe in good manners, so I think I shall continue to say good morning, and if he has a problem with that, he can come and tell me. Although I’m not sure it would help our working relationship. And also I might end up kicking the little idiot in the balls with my new steel-toed boots out of sheer irritation.


Three things, encompassing leopards

The first is a quick feminist grumble. Because it turns out that being known as Teh Feminist is just as annoying as any other label.
It’s still a stereotype – and it’s like all of the general “female” stereotypes, plus a few more for good luck.
I mean, really. There is only one man in the world who gets close enough to my legs to know whether I shave them. So what exactly is the point in asking me that question?
Besides, by the time you’re that close to my bare legs, back away and you a) look like a bloody small-minded cowardy-custard and b) don’t get any. Which are two really bad things if you’re the kind of man that hears the word “feminist” and feels compelled to ask me if I shave my legs.

Funny, I was going to write something profound – but, as usual, it came out sarcastic. Ah, well, I’ll stick with it – it’s easier that way.

The second is a general woman’s grumble. I don’t think you’d have to be a feminist to think this way (much in the way that those mugs say “you don’t have to be mad to work here – but it helps!”).
One of the porters asked me out a few days ago. He’s not exactly a regular member of staff, but he’s a temporary worker and the porters that he is covering for haven’t been in to work for at least a month, so he’s somewhere in between, really.
I thought he was asking me for a pen at first, because that’s all that the porters ever ask me for. Don’t ask me why, because I ordered a box of 50 from our stationary department and within a couple of weeks they’d all gone. They must eat them or something.
Anyway, it turned out he wanted my number. And my response, without really thinking about it, was “I don’t think my husband would like that”.
Which irritated me anyway, because I dislike implying that I’m somehow at the beck and call of the big strong Alpha Male in my life.
But, regardless of my feminist sensibilities, it made him back off pretty effectively.

And then, today, as I was sorting the laundry (pretty good feminist I’m making today, huh?!), we had the following conversation:
Him [almost inaudibly]: why did you lie to me?
Me [briskly]: hmmm? What?
Him [louder]: I think you lied to me [pointing to ring] – I’m not convinced
Me [more brusque than brisk now!]: Good for you. Whether you believe me or not is your choice. As it happens, I was telling the truth. But I’m not going to argue. And you’ll never get a date if you accuse women of lying.
Him [sullenly]: I’m not really a porter. I’m a student.
Me [cheerfully]: That’s nice. I hope to be a student myself soon. But I already have a man in my life, and I don’t need another one. It would take up far too much of my time, and neither of them would like it.
Him:….. [preparing to leave]
Me: Good night. Have a nice evening.

Now, I know that legally I’m not in fact married. I’m engaged, and an engagement in legal terms – well, I’m not sure, but I don’t think it counts for much. But you know, in my head, I may as well be married. And he annoyed me by the accusation of lying.
So, what he was hoping for? I mean, if he thinks I’m making up a husband, there’s only one reason for that, and it’s because I don’t want to go out with him.
Calling me a liar after that is not going to get a grovelling apology, and nor is it going to make me spread my legs. Funny that.
Perhaps he hadn’t thought it through, or just wanted my attention, or got off on arguments, or something. Goodness knows. Please, though, if anybody can explain that kind of behavior – let me know. I’d be fascinated!


And lastly, continuing the work theme:

Today I was asked to look for some invoices. The task itself seemed pretty damned stupid to me, but not nearly as stupid as it got when I tried to carry it out.

I went to see our finance man, S. He had some, but not all, because I needed them dating back to the start of 2006. So he told me I’d have to look in the archived forms. They live in the basement. I have never been to the basement. He called a guy, P, to show me where they were kept. P reminded him that you need a key to get into that particular store. S phoned A – one of the managers – to ask for the key. It was lunchtime, so A was in the staff restaurant (there has to be a visible management presence at lunch, in case anything happens). I went to the staff restaurant to find A. He could not find the key, but told me he didn’t think it needed a key anyway. So I went back and P and S took me down to the store, which was locked. S called A to inform him that it did indeed need a key. A realised that he’d been thinking about a different store and had had the key all along. P and S went back upstairs – S to do the work he actually needed to do, P to get the key. P returned, and we battled boxes of plastic glasses, pinatas, an old ice cream freezer and the Irish flag to get to the archive boxes. We searched through all 24 and found…. nothing that I needed.
I gave up, went back to my work, and at half past two was finally able to tell my chef that I couldn’t find the information. He called S to ask him to help me search. S promised to find me. He didn’t. At four o’clock, I was finally told not to worry, and that it didn’t matter that much anyway.

Aaaaaaaaaaargh!

It was made worse by the fact that nobody knew what I meant when I talked about a sign that said “beware of the leopard”. For the uninitiated, this is a reference to The Hitch-Hikers’ Guide To The Galaxy, and for the sake of humour, and because I don’t want to end my post with “aaaaaaargh”, I’m repeating it here:

* Arthur Dent has woken up to find that his house is about to be demolished. He is now lying in the mud in front of his house to prevent this, and arguing with the head of the demolition squad*

“But the plans were on display…”
“On display? I eventually had to go down to the cellar to find them.”
“That’s the display department.”
“With a torch.”
“Ah, well the lights had probably gone.”
“So had the stairs.”
“But look, you found the notice didn’t you?”
“Yes,” said Arthur, “yes I did. It was on display in the bottom of a locked filing cabinet stuck in a disused lavatory with a sign on the door saying beware of the leopard.


Random Fool Of The Day:

The man who wrote a four hundred word column entitled My Girlfriend Didn’t Like Porn.

Sadly, I threw the paper away in a fit of extreme irritation, mixed with thoughts about porn that probably would’ve got me thrown off the bus for indecency had anybody else known about them. If only he could have heard them, however, he might never have had the foolishness to write that column.

Because lots of women don’t like porn. In fact, lots of men don’t like porn. It’s just that, like so many things, porn has long been classified as a kind of “boy’s toy”, something that every man should enjoy, yet unnatainable for us weak little hysterical women.
And there are many different reasons why many different people don’t like many different types of porn.

Personally, I harbour mixed feelings.
I don’t mind the idea of porn per se, but the way that porn is produced and packaged means that I don’t really want to go near it, although I have seen some.

It makes me very uncomfortable wondering just how much coersion was used, how much force, how much blackmail. I feel sick at the thought that I might be witnessing a rape – and worse, enjoying it. Especially since venturing onto literotica, which is a site dedicated to erotic literature, funnily enough. Some of the fantasies I read about there – stories of professional rapists, an entire section entitled “nonconsent/reluctance” (I’m impressed by the euphamisms, but really, if you don’t consent, then that is rape) – have shown me that it’s a frighteningly common thought. And I know that rape fantasties don’t always equal wanting to rape or be raped, but even so, it’s not something I like to find so frequently.

And there’s another problem.

It’s all designed to be watched by a certain type of man.
“I went into one shop,” one of my friends told me recently, “and there was a small stand in the corner for ‘gay sex’ – where all of the video covers featured men – and a whole wall full of covers showing blonde hair and big breasts.”

It’s so common. I hate it.

I hate it that the existance of real lesbians is completely denied, because of course they’re just doing it for the man’s enjoyment. As though his cock is the most important thing in the world.
I hate it that every woman is assumed to be bisexual, and that the man who wrote this stupid, stupid column pouted that his girlfriend didn’t want to watch two women, although he point-blank refused to watch two men.
I hate it that all ‘mainstream’ porn is about Teh Menz.

And I hate it that the most sought-after scenes in ‘mainstream’ porn seem to be:

a) a blowjob, which is, by nature, intended for the sole pleasure of the man
b) anal sex – the man penatrating the woman – which is unlikely to give the woman any pleasure, since our G-spot is nowhere near (and ok, I wouldn’t normally pander to stereotypes, but guys, have you ever thought to ask for directions?)
c) the ‘money shot’ – watching the man come, usually over the woman.

I for one don’t find it at all sexy thinking of having a guy shoving something into an orifice of mine that’s only designed to have waste food come out, or indeed getting his come all over my nose.

There. Done. Now if only I could reduce that down to 400 words, and convince the editors of The London Paper that they wanted to print my vitriol, sarcasm and general rage, I would be a woman triumphant. At least until the readers voted on whether they liked me….