Tuesday, 2 September 2014

On Being Manic Pixie Dream Grrl'd

You are not the first to say I changed your life, to imagine that I exist solely to challenge those around me. As if I don't have my own life to live. Imagine how it must be constantly living that challenge, to know that your push and pull can eventually drive those you love away. They tire of your mental health, they tire of looking after you, they tire of the challenge and want for something quieter.

I self manage in an effort to stay off medication (I'm largely treatment resistant anyway) so that the shorter life I will live will be as meaningful and wonderful to me as possible. This self management means constantly being selfish, constantly having to put myself first so that I can live rather than survive. My very disinterest these days in a normal life (let's face it, anyone who knows me since childhood knows that was never really me) is exactly what drives people to manic pixie dream grrl me.

But that very trope is dehumanising at its core. It makes you into a character in a movie and nothing else. It strips you of being anything deeper than fun, quirky and colourful. But I am more than those things, I am strong & assertive. I am many character traits that were they in a man they would be lauded rather than shamed. I will not be made to apologise for who I am, you do not know what it took for me to get here.

I do not exist as a footnote in men's lives so they can reach their goals at the expense of my humanity.

Monday, 1 September 2014

On determining your worth from your sexual partners

It's 2014 and we're still running the tired old game of women who are promiscuous as sluts and men as studs. What we're really saying is men gain worth when they have sex and non men loose their worth. In no uncertain terms, what society is saying, is that if you have sex outside of marriage or a relationship you are not respecting yourself. That by us exercising our enjoyment in something we're not conditioned to be allowed to enjoy we give them a part of ourselves each time.

This idea paints everyone in a terrible light does it not? There are men that have done awful things to me and though they may have taken something, they did not take my worth. There are also other men & people where we've done nothing but enjoy ourselves, so why is society telling us that that interaction was a give and take of personal worth? Why do we continue to paint men as some kind of sexual beasts and anyone else as victims of their sexual prowess? What of the men who have little interest in no strings attached sex, are they less of a man? What of people who are not men who's sex drive is incredibly high? Will we really buy into some of the ideas of radical feminists that women and non men can't possibly enjoy sex, that it's a lie told to us by the patriarchy? I believe telling anyone, not just women, what they can & cannot do or feel is the ultimate form of kyriarchy.

Whatever your personal attitude to sex is, remember this, how many or few people you have sex with does not determine your personal worth. This idea also only holds up in heteronormative discourse, what on earth happens when two women have sex with each other? Do they both loose worth? Both gain?

Let's stop this flawed logic. Let's stop shaming people for how much or how little sex they want to have & with how many or few people they want to have it with.

Thursday, 24 July 2014

A brief on becoming poly.

There have been some changes recently in my life and some people seem to be very confused about what it means to me to be poly.

Being poly or practising ethical non monogamy is different for everyone, there is no one set narrative. I am still finding my way with it myself & so is my primary partner.

So here's my deal, I have a primary partner who is male, yes I am in love with him & I do still fancy him very much. Outside of this I date other people, I primarily (but not exclusively) date people who are not men. And no, my sex life is none of your fucking business. Do not ask me intrusive questions, I will however answer respectful questions that do not seek to dehumanise me.

Some of the following are things I do not do:

I do not fancy everyone.

I do not have sex with everyone.

I will not ask out everyone (in fact I'm quite selective).

No, straight women, I am NOT HITTING ON YOU!

I respect your monogamous relationships so please respect mine not being monogamous.

If you don't want to respect this, you know where the door is.

Friday, 6 June 2014

On The Sword That Is My Tongue (a poem)

This fire that burns inside me to fight for what is rightfully mine

This fire that you attempt to squash

While you are busy debating my humanity

You demands slipping from your tongue like a snake

Hissing in my ear as I beg you to stop asking me why I fear men

This fire that burns in my loins to speak loud enough so that you will finally listen

Because I need to shout louder over your “cold hearted, bitch” & “damn they’re so fucking difficult” remarks

This fire that is all I have left after man after man after man has stripped me of my agency

This passion that lets me yield the sword that is my tongue

The axe that is my fingers as I type

Because I will use whatever I have to fight.

Even though, I know that you are too stubborn to hear me. 

Friday, 2 May 2014

On Accessing Sexual Health Services as a Survivor (TW)

Content note: Will not only be mentioning rape from the point of view of a survivor/victim but also graphic details of a clinical examination.

The horror of horrors has come true, I can't feel the strings of my Mirena Coil. The most likely thing that has happened is that it's moved or is missing. All of this can be solved, when looking at it outwardly, relatively simply. I arrange an appointment. Arranging an appointment is the first step in what proves to be not only an unprofessional experience but one that will leave me with more emotional scarring. It is difficult to get through, when I do it's hard to communicate to them what I need. As instead of listening to my worries about it going missing they tell me I only need a brief consultation. They later call to confirm that I've asked for a removal and fitting of a new coil. This is where I first become confused and state that I thought I was only coming for a consultation. After much back & forth I still don't know what's going on so I hang up confused. I call back the next day where the person on the phone clearly states "This is a consultation only, you will not be examined". I say that if I am to be examined I want to bring my partner & I want to be examined by a woman ONLY. The person on the phone clearly states again that it will only be a consultation & that she will write this information in my notes.

Let me explain why I need so much clarity, why I want to be examined by women only and why I need someone with me. I am a rape survivor & an abuse survivor (although I sometimes refer to myself as a victim). I have no interest in going into detail, years later I can barely even utter the words. That these are experiences that have scarred me & shaped my life are an understatement. Everyone's reactions to their own trauma is different and all are valid. Please don't police how I deal with mine.

The day of the appointment comes and I am still anxious. I arrive early & try to relax. My previous experiences have been good with understanding & kind nurses. Even my first smear test which I was very worried about went well. The nurse was brisk but kind and I felt at ease especially as it was over so quickly and painlessly.

The person who eventually calls my name is a man. They are running late and the male consultants have started taking files out of the "Female Specialist Only" pile. I feel worried but assure myself that they told me they would only be consulting me not examining me. I mean they stated clearly on the phone that I would not be examined this evening. I was wrong.

I sit in the room feeling utterly helpless, with an inner knowledge that I will most likely be reprimanded if I push for a female specialist now. I undress and lie on the table. I start crying before he's even done anything. I don't know if he's not noticed or if he doesn't care. He is forceful and uncaring, the speculum used is metal and slightly too big. I feel a surge of pain as he examines me roughly. When he's done swabbing and looking for the strings of my coil he confirms my fears that my coil has indeed either moved or gone missing. I will be scheduled in for a scan followed by a removal and re-fitting. The examination is not over however, he presses on my belly without much warning causing me great pain. He goes on to examine me internally with his fingers. This includes pressing in various places as well as moving my cervix about harshly. I cry throughout my examination. I leave the room numb, wiping away my tears I rush through the clinic. I burst through the exit doors for cold air to hit me and I finally feel awake. My only saving grace is knowing that my partner is on his way to meet me. The partner who was clear in always being there when I need him, who would have taken time off work had I known to ask him. He would have been there with me, had they told me what was actually going to happen. If I had been prepared I could have taken steps to prepare myself and ensure that I would have felt safe throughout.

I know many people reading this will feel that the onus is on me to have had my partner there regardless. That I should have pushed more for a female specialist. But I rarely have the strength these days to fight and I don't believe that the onus lies with the survivor, victim, patient but with those who will be treating them to treat them with respect and compassion. It states clearly in my notes what I wanted, if I can't get it when I ask for it clearly why even bother asking or pushing. There are countless more people like me, who though they have access to sexual health care are scarred by it. Are frightened to go and have terrible experiences when they do.

The NHS is stretched and constantly facing more cuts. This means clinic's can't employ enough staff, they can't train their staff well enough for these situations. They can't run on time so shortcuts need to be taken. The more the NHS is cut the more pain vulnerable patients such as myself will experience. I will continue to seek the help of Sexual Health Clinics because I have to. But I know that it will become increasingly more rare that I have a safe experience when doing so.

Wednesday, 30 April 2014

On how we treat people

With the massive rise of social media I have also seen a shift in people's behaviour. Although I don't think any this is new I think perhaps it has further reach than it used to. Nor do I think it's the fault of the internet, it's definitely the fault of the people on the internet. There are however more tools for bullying & shaming people. More people can also join in & be encouraged to join in. There are pages on Facebook whose sole purpose is to shame embarrass people. People will be nasty online in ways they wouldn't in real life. A friend of mine once compared it to road rage & I can definitely see where he is coming from.

We forget that behind the screens, behind people's tough exterior they are often vulnerable. People have a lot of power to do good but we have just as much if not more power to harm.

Harassment, shaming, bullying are these really traits of your humanity that you want to be proud of?

Tuesday, 29 April 2014

On whether I hate men or not

Whenever people find out about my politics the first question they tend to as me is "Do you hate men then?" Followed by "Do you think men can be feminists?" "Do men experience sexism?" All of the questions I get asked relate to men. They don't ask me, how I feel we can change things for the better for women. They don't ask me which areas I am most involved in. They don't ask me about my praxis nor about any of my personal experience. They also crucially don't ask me what they can do themselves to get involved. All of their questions relate to centring the narrative on men.

So in essence, I refuse to answer any more questions such as the above. They are not important, they just seek to further the status quo. Start asking me serious, genuine questions & you might find my responses a lot warmer. Start showing me you genuinely care & again you may find me a lot warmer. My personal feelings about men, whatever they may be are none of your business.

Saturday, 26 April 2014

On Being Difficult

I get told that I'm difficult or difficult to talk to on a relatively regular basis. The source of these comments is 90% of the time, well you can guess by now can't you? I presume that they find me difficult because I won't just listen to them chat shit without speaking up when they say something I disagree with. I presume they find me difficult when their "jokes" are met with a blank stare & me proclaiming that I don't think they're funny. I presume they find me difficult because it's never crossed their minds how what they say could possibly affect others. Especially how much their words could hurt someone. They are so used to their dominant position in society that they don't expect anyone to express their disagreement. Oh oops I've gotta stop I can hear an incoming "not all" argument followed by " but I'm a NICE GUY". Here, borrow my phone, call someone who cares. Because I am proud that my words, deem me threatening enough for you to call me difficult.

Would the ideal for them being people like me staying quiet? Probably. Does this mean I'm going to be quiet? I'll let you guess ;-)

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

On Self-Esteem (a poem)

I am not supposed to love myself
The whole world tells me I’m not allowed to love myself
If I do, I am conceited, arrogant and full of myself

I am not supposed to like myself
The whole world tells me I can’t like myself
If I do, they ask me why.

I don’t love myself
I don’t like myself
But each day I am trying

In the face of the world telling me I shouldn’t
I am taking small steps

Revolutionary steps

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

On loving all things femme

So apparently pink is stink. Excuse me while I go throw out everything I own in my favourite colour because society deems yet another feminine attributed colour or item to be lesser. I am femme and I am proud of it. I do not view myself as lesser because I happen to like what society deems as lesser. Have I been influenced as a person by the patriarchy? Of course I have, we all have, literally everything has. However it is very fucking patriarchal to continue postulating that anything femme is inferior.

Absolutely anyone can be femme/feminine. Femininity is not a performance any more than masculinity is. There are of course times when both can be such but I wouldn't assert one as more so than the other. Nor would I posit either as intrinsically performative. Even if it were a performance, unless it is negatively affecting you & your mental health would it still be correct to argue that the performance in itself is a bad thing?

We laud strong female characters and of course we should, but we should not laud them over feminine (or as society reads that word, weak) characters. People are nuanced and can be strong & feminine, weak & masculine & everything in between. Neither weakness nor strength are inherently negative characteristics & we can all benefit from a bit of both. Strength and weakness also come in many different forms & aren't always the way society views them.

Femininity is just as valid, just as important & just as real as anything else. Of course it is problematic that toys & items are constantly gendered. But it's no more problematic labelling things "for girls" than "for boys". Toys, colours etc. should be for people & people should be free to like whatever they like. When we don't rage the same way about something being "for boys" we are simply relenting to the idea that boy/man = default person.

Until we stop positing femininity as performance, not valid & lesser we really aren't fucking getting anywhere are we.

Friday, 21 February 2014

On compulsion

There is a huge amount of misunderstanding surrounding many parts of mental illness. One in particular that's been standing out to me recently is compulsion. I mean the word is pretty self explanatory but I'll give you a dictionary explanation "An irresistible impulse to act, regardless of the rationality of the motivation".

What many people are not aware of is that it is often an oppressive thought, one which forces itself into your head without asking permission first. It is not rational and pointing this out is never helpful. But please also do not make us feel ashamed for some of the things we feel we MUST do. Try to listen & understand us, don't make us feel worse for things that already do not make us feel good about ourselves. 

Here are some things that have helped me through in the past. I am by no means a trained mental health professional these are just personal things I have figured out. These have helped me through not only compulsion but also low cycles.

For anyone who is near me at the time, please ask permission before you physically attempt to comfort me.

Have a bath with something in it that smells nice. Bubbles are great too. Pampering yourself in any way you tend to enjoy can help too. If you are with someone you feel safe with ask them if they will give you a foot rub or a massage. 

Attempt to distract yourself. Try to do something easy that you enjoy. Play a video game, read a book, watch a TV show you love, cook yourself something nice & simple (if you can). Tidy your room and do a clear out (again only if you can). Listen to music & pretend you're the one on the stage screaming your heart out. Screaming into a pillow can also be helpful.

Take a walk. This I find better if someone is with me as being outside can sometimes be a bit too much.

Don't do too much, cancel plans you can't manage. People will understand, if they don't well then they're the shitty ones, not you. (This one is much harder to do as inevitable practising what you preach can be very difficult)

Alternatively see people you know you feel safe with. Ask if they can come to your house & bring with them something they know you love (a film, food stuff, nice drink etc.). Or go to a place you're 100% sure you will feel safe. Of course public transport can be too difficult so keep that in mind if you are low on spoons. 

Call a friend you feel safe with or text if speaking to someone is too much.

Most importantly however, it's ok to fail. I inevitably feel full of shame and angry at myself for not being able to do what I want to do or giving into compulsions. Of course I'm saying this as someone who's never been able to accomplish not beating myself up about it. However I at least want you all to know that I am someone who will never judge you. 

Thursday, 13 February 2014

On a wishlist regarding men's behaviour. (TW harrassment/assault)

Don't ask me out on platforms to designed for this
Don't grab my ass on the train
At the bar
In the toilet queue
On the dance floor
In the street
In the shop
At work
Don't pull me into the toilets
Don't run your hands through my hair
Don't grab my arm
Don't pull me onto your lap
In fact just don't fucking touch me
Don't tell me you just want to talk to me
Don't lick your lips at me
Don't get off the night bus with me
Don't walk me home
Don't bang on my door when I've slammed it in your face
Don't dance with me unless I consent
Don't shout that I have nice tits, arse, legs. etc.
Don't tell me I look like fun, adventurous, quirky, freaky, downright dirty
Don't call me darling
Post mistress
Good girl
Little girl  
Don't tell me "daddy likes a tattoo"
Don't talk to me while I'm trying to get a drink. I'm not at the bar to chat to anyone but the bar staff.
Don't tell me I'm not like other girls. 
Don't tell me I'm like a dude. 
Don't tell me I'm prettier without make up I'll just wear more.

Thursday, 6 February 2014

On a very loud and tiring brain

My head is very loud, most of the time. It's very rarely quiet in there. I have found that mental illness rarely comes as a single entity but rather as a package deal. Joking aside (although joking about it does help me a lot actually) you never get to deal with just one thing at once. It's a tangled web up there.

I feel like writing about my anxiety though more specifically. Partly because it's been worse recently and I thought this might help me and others but also because well, I just feel like it.

Recently it's been particularly loud up in my brain. I struggle to get to sleep and when I do I nearly always wake up at 5am. This means I am constantly tired, this in turn makes my pendulum of mood swings swing harder and faster perpetuating a rather dangerous cycle. I often wake up with stomach aches and feel sick. I tend to get these feelings off and on during the day. I also have a near constant headache, shoulders & back also ache tremendously.

One of the worst parts of my anxiety is social anxiety. This is in part perpetuated by the street harassment I get pretty much daily as it makes me not want to leave my house. I have a near constant voice in my head telling me that everyone hates me even though of course I know this isn't true. I know this isn't true because I have wonderful friends who I see regularly. I have a lovely boyfriend who does thoroughly enjoy spending time with me. I also have a mother who is very supportive and we are in contact every day. See they don't hate me. So why do I keep telling myself that everyone does?

This voice does however tend to make me quite an intense person to be around. I am often on edge. I am so worried about saying weird things that well I end up saying weird things. I make odd jokes that aren't funny at all. I can also be very shy and difficult to talk to because I'm not always 100% sure how to do human interaction. This means sometimes people think I hate them. Actually a lot of people seem to think that at first which obviously makes me feel terrible. People reading this, I don't hate you!!!

I'm not so great at being touched (for many reasons we shan't delve into) which means I occasionally flinch when people touch me. I can hazard a guess that it's something that's quite confusing for many. Honestly speaking I switch fast between loving being touched by people to in the next moment absolutely hating it.

There are certain places I can't go because it makes it a lot worse. If somewhere is incredibly busy and I'm already on edge I will struggle. Certain kinds of places makes me very uncomfortable. You'd probably guess which ones, the Tiger Tiger's of this world. The kind of places frequented by bankers etc. I don't feel safe in places like that so my anxiety levels shoot up.

Unfortunately my anxiety doesn't really make any sense so I can't always know when and how it's going to hit. Such is life in this package deal of mine.

Wednesday, 5 February 2014

On misdirected anger

There are going to be a lot of angry people today, tomorrow and Friday morning. There will be a repeat of this next week. Why? Because tube workers are striking.

Now the anger you are feeling is good. Hold on to that. But please make sure you direct it at the right people. Do not be angry at the people who work on our magnificent London Underground. They are striking because of 500 jobs being cut, much longer working hours and closure of ticket offices. They are striking for very important reasons. Because everyone deserves to be treated with respect and dignity at work. Everyone deserves to be paid properly for the hard work they do. Everyone deserves reasonable working hours. And all of us deserve ticket offices. There are a lot of lies about stations having more staff when the ticket offices close. They will not. I travel on routes daily already without ticket offices and there is hardly ever any station staff around to help.

Show them solidarity because over these days you will see how vital our tube is. Be angry, but be angry at the right people. Be angry at Boris Johnson, David Cameron, Nick Clegg and the bosses who refuse to listen to their workers.

Thursday, 30 January 2014

On harassment (a poem)

Leave me the fuck alone

No hey's, no babe, no wow look at those tits

Don't "compliment" me, I already know I look good.

Don't look me up & down like you'd devour me whole

I am not a tasty snack, I am a person.

And yes I've done the victim blaming bullshit

But no I do not bring it on myself.

My hair is not the damn problem

My outfit is not the damn problem

You are the goddamn problem

Leave me

The fuck


Monday, 27 January 2014

On what I once was (a poem)

I was once called ugly

The same people now call me beautiful

Forgetting that I'm still the same person

My growth was stunted

I look the same but perceptions changed

Who's to say they won't again

I was once called stupid

The same people now say I am so well read

Forgetting that I'm still the same person

My growth was stunted

I think the same but perceptions changed

Who's to say they won't again

I was once broken into little pieces

The same people now laud my strength

Forgetting that they damaged a person

My growth was stunted

I'm not the same

That person bleeds out

I can't keep them in

On a round up of links #21

Shit they say to sex workers!

Melissa Harris Perry on becoming aware of the plight of trans people

Queer critique of Blue is the warmest colour

To all women who have ever been told to quiet down

The trouble with Violeta

Tilly Grove on Sexting

Breaking up with white people

Suey Park on Not Your Asian Sidekick

The politics of skin lightening

Good comic about white privilege

Stop fawning over male feminists



Saturday, 18 January 2014

On Barbie vs He-Man

So I've been seeing this post circulating around Facebook. It's about how feminists have a go about Barbie being an unrealistic standard of beauty without mentioning the pedestal of hyper masculinity that is He-Man.

The irony being of course that the post does not reflect on the fact that both toys posit white skin as the highest beauty standard one should aspire for.

It also misses the fact that though hyper masculinity is indeed harmful, Barbie's life that is pushed on women is one of being pretty so to get the man and live in their big pink house with their big pink car. Whereas He-Man gets to go around saving the world and be considered a hero. Nothing wrong with women living in nice houses and being pretty at all but I'd rather that not be pushed as the one and only thing we're allowed to aspire to.

Men must give up the notion that they must always be the centre of the narrative. The fact that they insist on being so in FEMINISM (the clue my friends is in the name) is quite frankly ludicrous. Feminism should at all times centre women. Feminism does fail in many cases. It fails WOC, Trans women, non binary people, sex workers, working class women and disabled (both visibly and invisibly so) women. I am not concerned with whether it fails men as it is NOT ABOUT YOU!

But you know, soz you're butt hurt about not looking like He-Man.

Monday, 6 January 2014

On friendzoning someone (a poem)

I once friendzoned a boy.

A hetero extremely sexual boy.

A boy who claimed to love me.

Without ever having spoken to me.

He was sweet and I thought loyal.

I gave him my friendship and treasured what I thought his.

Until he told me he loved me and I declined.

His sadness was apparent and everyone blamed me

I owed him....me.

He was a nice guy.

We stayed what I thought friends until....

one night I kissed him in inebriation.

And I did indeed love him.

As a friend.

But apparently I owed him.....me.

When he met a girl who would give him everything he was owed

I was pushed aside and non existent

even though his friendship meant the world to me.

My heart broken.

My soul broken.

My trust broken

but that did not matter.

Because I OWED HIM....ME!!!!




Regardless of what I felt....I owed him.


On a round up of links #18

Stavvers = Lucifer :3

Drone strikes in Yemen

Trudy on Beyonce's new album.

Stavvers on her white privilege.

After Womans hour.

White feminists rejecting intersectionality.

More thoughts on Beyonce's new album.

Forced deportations in Sweden

Nazi activity increases in Sweden

Louise Mensch and her gross display of white privilege

Laverne Cox creating a documentary about CeCe McDonald

A year in review.

The trouble with passing privilege