Tuesday, October 7, 2008

If life gives you lemons

If life gives you lemons and you try to make lemonade, you will find that you have a very small amount of highly acidic sour liquid in a cup, that gives absolutely no refreshment or particular satisfaction. 

There I assumed that you have a cup, if life really gives you only lemons you will have to knaw through the lemon's tough outer skin and bitter pith with your teeth , and then somehow squeeze the sticky innards into your palm, which you would then have to lick.

That is not what I call lemonade.
Thus if life gives you sugar, water, lemons, a knife, a cup and maybe a jug then maybe, you can make lemonade. You need more than just lemons to make it in the world of lemonade. If you want to sell the your soda you need even more stuff - and who can even afford to buy lemonade now that the world is collapsing. I ask you?

I have come to the conclusion that this particular saying is incredibly anti socialist.
It should be replaced by ' If life gives you lemons, open them up somehow and squeeze their juice into the eyes of the opressor'. Whilst the juice blinds him (yup, in this metaphor 'the opressor'  is a rich white man, physically a hideous amalgamation of Boris Johnson and Quentin Tarrantino) we can start building a new society based on co-operation, equality and genuine freedom for all.

In this place there will be a lot of lemonade, and it will all be fresh, sweet and free.

This is what the lemonade stands will look like. We will try to keep pips to an absolute minimum. 

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Kevin McCloud and the Big town plan

I don't know if anyone has been watching this, but it is turning me into even more of a revolutionary socialist with every episode. It is about the regeneration of a town, my town - Castleford where a bazillion generations of my family grew up. Including my good self.

DISCLAIMER  (because I don't live there now, but all my family do I have tended to jump between 'we' and 'they' when talking about the place. I hope this doesn't seem hypocritical or grammatically annoying.)

Kevin McCloud ( clearly an insufferable ponce) wanders the downtown area pointing out how depressed people are, that we have nothing- no more mines and yet, nowhere to get a cappuccino.

He has a point, Castleford is not a happy place. Thing is, Castleford has always been poor and its people exploited. The difference is the relationship to the means of production. Once upon a time Cas folk fit neatly into a marxist analysis, now production has moved to a place where people are cheaper to exploit. All that is left is the consumption of cheap goods, and selling these goods. Our place in the line of production has moved on from the creation of goods, to the selling of goods. 

This seems like some kind of step upwards, but it really isn't. As a worker in a shop you have few skills, are more dispensible and your job is often viewed as 'not a proper job'. When you actively produce something then there is a sense of value - or at least that there is necessity to what you do. When my grandad talks about working in Rowntrees sweet factory he has a  great sense of pride about it. It never made him rich, but he got a pension that him and my gran live well on, and with my grandma working as an old people's nurse they made enough to provide for a family. His job was stable and worth something, and the workers of Rowntrees could organise socially.The company treat employees relatively well, but then they had to; workers had power, even if that power was limited.My granddad may have just sugared almonds, but it was skillful, precise and not many other people knew how to do it. Workers had some power, even if they were in a subservient role within production.

I am not suggesting that this is some kind of ideal life, but it often seems that way when compared with what has come to replace it. The jobs available now are mainly retail and call centre work- coupled with spare time spent in excessive consumption of goods produced cheaply by people who can barely afford to live.  The increasing individualism of life makes people depressed, and we are a people without a clearly defined role. One thing is for sure, we are not a people empowered. 

I am lucky, my granddad was a skilled worker, my mum and dad have middling jobs and I have had enough education to propell me somewhere else. Somewhere else being a place I was very quick to find - which in many respects is sad considering the hundreds of years of family history here. It's sad that moving away is the best option.

What I am trying to say is - I don't really think it is the design of our town making people feel empty.

Much as this show boils my blood on a very personal level, I have never felt as proud of my home-town as I did watching the program. My favourite part was when one woman stood firm to get a big fence around a new park in Cutsyke. Obviously the architechts wanted a friendly open park that anyone could use at any time, but they don't live in Castleford. In a world without social injustice all parks should be open all the time - but in a place which has absolutely nowhere for young people to go, and social problems which foster destructive tendencies within the young, parks need fences. Sad, but true.

This woman said to the presenter, when he was waffling on about freedom or design or something, she said 'I'll flatten you,  you're not listening to me'.

This 'not listnening' was a frequent occurance ; like when the designers wanted to build a market with daft umbrella things. A market trader ( big guy, tattoos) said 'what about the wind'. They ignored his point, largely because it was made in a northern accent by a guy with tattoos.

Lo and behold the prototype failed to withstand the wind.

Yet Channel 4 know best, and think that good design will help teenagers not to destroy things. What a ludicrous conceit.

In there is one particularly bad scheme in Fryston, where they actually destroy a community centre to replace it with a ridiculous sculpture ( 3 rocks on top of each other). Leaving the local residents with no-where to play bingo. Good going.

All in all it seems that Channel 4 want the residents of Castleford to be 'regenerated' into happy middle class citizens. This is obvious in what they decide to create . Markets = good, just like the farmers market, they can buy organic food and vegetables. They can be just like us...
Community centres, bingo, brass bands = not even a consideration, why would I need a community centre all you do there is hang around with other poor people and play bingo (and not in an ironic way either...) How is that supposed to boost the economy?

Yet another example of tv (white middle class run medium that it is) encouraging us to conform to a middle class ideal. It is also a particularly good example of how top down development doesn't work.  The people of Castleford are intelligent enough to decide what they want from their town, despite the fact they say it with broad accents , bad haircuts and cheap clothes. There was one point where some other ponce said 'and this woman was actually very articulate'

One wanted to take that 'actually' out of his sentence and shove it somewhere very painful. Working class people aren't thick, so stop treating Castleford like it is. Or we will flatten you.

What we should flatten is the huge new Walmart(Asda) on the edge of town. Walmart have a long history of ruining small towns in the USA, a fact conveniently omitted by this program. No wonder they don't mention it, they whole idea is to encourage new development through flimsy design concepts. The fact that big developers are one a huge factor in the destruction of the town is skirted around, and ultimately left unquestioned.

Ultimately watching the programme the people included had a good grasp of the way they were being ignored, and that they did not want to be condescended to or regenerated by the middle classes. So I guess socialism seems to still be here - but without any political force to harness it. 

Another spot on the world map betrayed by new labour. Maybe I should go home and unite an army of workers to bring the country back into the hands of the people, but then where would I get a decent cappuccino?*

Ps - The Guardian really irritated me with this little piece on the program, wittering on about the pronunciation of 'cas'. Yes our accents are different. Deal with it - and stop hoping that everyone there will regenerate into people who buy your sodding newspaper. The other annoying element of this is that despite the fact that the program is about the north, all his focus is on southerners. Yet again we are othered. I know I am taking this out of proportion and it's a tiny bit that he probably wrote in 5 minutes - but sod it, the world does not revolve around the home fucking counties......

* This is a load of nonsense, there are numerous places in Castleford where you can buy a cappuccino - I was just using it as an example of middle class consumption to illustrate my point. 
You could replace it with 'vegan smoothie' or even 'bookshop that sells something other than dan brown and mills and boon' if accuracy is your thing.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Class and facebook

I am going to post about class, hopefully people won't get too offended, as it does contain spoilers about Kung Fu Panda.
I am fortunate enough to have friends in a wide variety of class groupings, and obviously this is also the case on facebook. I recently noticed patterns in the profiles of people in different socio economic groups. I know these are generalisations, whenever one points out a pattern there are  people who say 'oh oh , but that's not true, I'm different' - to which I reply, congratulations, you are an anomaly, here - have a sticker. (if you can pronounce an anomaly you may also have a lollipop)
The main difference is middle class =a fairly detailed profile in terms of movies, films books and quotes. Working class = little or nothing about movies etc, a lot of extra applications. Obviously there are exceptions, and class boundaries being the fuzzy things that they are this is inevitable. No profile at all and no applications can mean either.
It think this says a lot about what class now means in our uber-consumptive society. The middle classes are proud of their consumption because it marks out superior status. Liking certain movies or music, the ability to travel are not viewed as class accessories or evidence of economic status, but evidence of a cultured mind, of style and taste. Hence we are eager to display our consumption to others.
The way in which the working classes are derided is through their patterns of consumption, a sneaky way to insult the less fortunate without seeming to be an arsehole.
Thus the BBC tried to suggest that the term Chav was not about class, but how people behave and what they buy (well, um what actually is class if not patterns of behaviour and consumption?) when the fabian society rightly decreed it an insulting term this week.

Yeah people, you are ok, but only if you buy what we buy, and do what do what we tell you.

This becomes complicated because certain things actually are just shit, like the Sun and big action films etc. I don't think it is in any way classist for me to say 'that's rubbish' because ultimately Coronation street, big blockbusters and everything that is targeted at a working class populace is not ultimately created by the working classes. These elements of consumption also do their bit to re-enforce gender roles, racial stereotypes and ultimately keep poor people poor. This happens in a variety of ways, from the high street clothes which are sewn for next to nothing in the developing world,  to the movies that re-enforce individualism and sell unattainable dreams.

An example being Kung Fu panda. I saw this at work the other day. It was a pile of crap- but it didn't need to be. The graphics were stunning, and the concept wasn't completely appaling. Jack Black in panda form gets told that he is the dragon of destiny warrior or something, and has to battle a scary tiger, who the chief master trained and who subsequently turned to evil. So far, so Star Wars. 

(SPOILER coming.. I really don't want to ruin this movie for anybody, Dreamworks have done that themselves...)

In the end Jack Panda trains hard, realises his inner potential and kills the tiger dude. Now it would have been so so much better if Panda character had just used his warmth and compassion to win tiger back into a loving relationship with his adoptive father. If he realised that there was no need to train hard to beat people up as ultimately the human spirit is more important. But no - fat Panda somehow manages to be a Kung Fu god, rather than using what he has ( in this case, humour and cooking ability) to make a difference. Ie poor person could miraculously become rich if only they tried hard enough , rather than realising this not to be the case, and making things better in their own reality. It's also significant that Fat Panda only gets glory by being violent to others, there we go - capitalism is a violent system. Kung Fu Panda proves it.
It was yet another example of the ' fat sloppy white guy gets glory anyway despite the fact that others are in a  better position to succeed' sort of movie, which has the stupid 'anyone can do anything' message. 
A fact which reality shows us just isn't true.  I don't think that is depressing, I think it can be liberating because it is the truth. The people who go from nothing to everything are highly publicised anomolies, and because the population is big enough there are a few of them. They are not the majority - I mean look at the leaders of the political parties - Blair went to Fettes ( the Eton of Scotland ) and Cameron went to the Eton of England. Often this is glossed over ( um Tony and Dave...) and people make themselves seem more 'working' than they are. (isn't that right Bush?)

This is largely to justify their own position, which I think is why people get offended when you start talking about class.  Accepting our own privelage is tough, because life is crappy for everyone at times. It's not that fun to admit that it is generally crappier for some other groups of people.

 I am not sure where this is going, nor do I particularly have an answer.. other then, um 'unite and overthrow capitalism in a somehow non violent fashion'. 
I guess in the day to day not making people feel shit for what they wear or buy, whilst accepting that everyone's consumptive choices are limited and dictated by capitalism itself. Also not being too up ourselves for buying the 'right' things, or defining ourselves by this consumption. I like art, and I like stuff, and obviously Gorky's Zygotic Mynci fans are a superior breed of human. I am pretty bad when it  comes to falling prey to the consumption of coolness (possibly because I am so damn cool).  I think defining ourselves by consumption is one way which capitalism as a system is really very advanced, as it is a way in which we trap ourselves in it.

Thursday, July 10, 2008


Ok so I have written a poem about my feelings. It is very raw.
 It's called loss. Every word is the very essence of truth.


You're not where you are supposed to be
My head
Without you all is fuzzy
You're nowhere near my bed

We were not together long
You were strong
You made everything clear

In the morning you were gone
I haven't seen you since
I can't really see anything at all without you

I thought I'd learned my lesson
when I stepped on that other pair
I wasn't that drunk
You should be on my desk
Or at least down the side of my bed
When I look there's nothing there

How can a pair of glasses
Disappear in just one night
And why has one whole day passed
Without my specs in sight

I have some contact lenses
Enough to see me through
But if I don't find my glasses
I don't know what I'll do


I have just been in an argument with 3 meathead fucks which made me question my faith in humanity. I also now realise that the BNP threat is not some distant unimaginable possibility. 

We need to be challenging this shit now. 

I try to be funny in this blog - but this will not be a funny post, I am fucking livid. It's the first time I have every seriously stormed out of anywhere, and the only reason I didn't make my political exit sooner was because it was the leaving drinks for a close friend.

It started out with a discussion, with one character who attempted to keep the peace by the usual ' we all have opinions' bullshit.

Anyway yes, me vs 3 BNP voter types. Happy times. The following opinions were expressed in all seriousness:-

* Black people are behind in evolutionary terms
* Imperialism was good, and only happened because white people were more advanced
*  Black Africans are all lazy drunks who can't help themselves which is why they are poor
* Rape is not a women's rights issue, and men are just as vulnerable to rape
* Men rape because they can't help it when they have a hard on, we shouldn't blame them

I'm not going to write any more of what they said. Nor am I going to explain why the above is bullshit as I credit anybody who reads this blog with ownership of at least 1 maybe 2 brain-cells ( I guess I assume you are my friends and I tend to steer clear of racist misogynists wherever possible).

Obviously I got very angry and got into a big row, the other women there who I know don't agree remained quiet, the men with whom the argument was with were actually aggressive and a bit scary, so I don't blame them. They shouted at me for getting angry and  kept throwing (hurling or perhaps slinging) the names of loads of 'scholars' or racist theorists or whatever, as a particularly aggressive form of attack.  Am just so so angry and disappointed in the world, and like, what the fuck.

It was one of those things whereby even though I feel shaken and annoyed, I think it is important to talk about this stuff, even if it does end in a big argument that I have to walk away from. I doubt I will have changed anyone's mind, but it's better than keeping the peace in those situations. It's better than just sitting and making banal small talk, because people actually believe this crap and it might take a lot of energy but Jesus.

In the end I had to just ignore them and talk to my friends and then leave. I know that is a bit like admitting defeat but I was seriously outnumbered and not getting anywhere. Anyway after 5 days with serious lefties this was a reality check on what probably a disturbing number of people actually think.  

Monday, June 16, 2008

It might not necessarily be a sign of equality, but I wish we treat could treat our legs like men's faces

A friend in the pub said to me 'we should just treat leg/pit hair like men treat their facial hair, and have real freedom of choice'.

Now I don't think that all men are completely free to have facial hair if they want, after-all Gillette markets clean shaven as the 'professional' kind of look. Having a beard is not without connotations either, people may think you are a wise, a leftie vegetarian or very religious depending on your racialised group, and what kind of shoes you wear. Nor do I think the comparison between men's facial hair and women's body hair is really a true analogy - if we were really talking about equality we would be comparing body with body, but seen as we are so far away from the freedom to be hairy, I think it is an analogy worth pursuing.

In my experience as a hetero who likes to discuss and admire the faces of men, it transpires that women tend to like a variety of levels of shaving. I know one woman who is mad for beards, and considers facial hair long enough to braid as the pinnacle of sex. I also know women for whom clean shaven is the only acceptable option, I have even met someone who thinks that handlebar moustaches are actually cool.

Personally I am down with anything up to light beard, and think that stubble ( though itchy) can be attractive in a 'rugged' kind of way, that on the right person a beard can hide a weird chin, and that not having the hormonal requirements to grow much hair can equally be very attractive.

Having said that I would suspect that someone with a handlebar moustache is either very pretentious, or very evil or both.

I think it would be fantastic if women's bodily hair could be viewed the same way, that when I am stubbly a man might go 'mmm rugged, she didn't shave for a few days, she must be a bit wild'
or 'that armpit hair looks really natural and smooth I would like to stroke it'
Or even - 'she wears her legs hairy with those square glasses, how indie...'

I know a lot of women who consider their own hairiness to be deeply unattractive, but I think that is wholly due to the fact that it is constructed to be so. I mean if every man in every film was shown clean shaven, if literally no public figures had beards, if beards were seen as repulsive by the public at large and mocked in magazines, I doubt there would be many beards.

From personal experience ( which is not completely de-constructed, and I acknowledge that I too am a product of this beastly patriarchy) the two most comfortable states of leg/pit hair are totally shaved, or 4 days growth minimum. Anything in between is really annoying - and considering option A requires shaving every day and option B requires no shaving ever - I think I know what I will be doing if we ever get post patriarchy.

At present I like to dabble with option A and option B, but I do feel wary of showing my body when I am in option B.

This is a lot like being a hairy man who lives in a world without beards. A world where everyone seems to shave every day just to look normal, where all women everywhere are apparently repulsed by facial hair. One day the hairy man says 'no, this is stupid, I can't be bothered to spend money on razors any more. This hair grows naturally on my face, I am going to let it grow. I know I am hetero, and women are supposed to be repulsed by beards, but the right woman should just like me anyway damnit.' So he doesn't shave and he feels liberated at first - but when he goes out of his house the idea that he is repulsive and weird to everyone he sees, and has no hope of ever going out with a woman, plays on his mind so much that he has to buy a balaclava*, and eventually decides to shave.

I have a list of other hair based demands for women....
  • twiddling armpit hair to be the same as twiddling a beard, a sign of wisdom and being deep in thought.
  • leg hair to be seen as quite cool if you are in a band.
  • leg hair to be essential if you want to make folksy music.
  • armpit hair growing competitions along the lines of the world beard and moustache
  • armpit and leg hair to be desirable necessary for the ageing academic woman.
  • some sort of fad centred around shaving words or patterns into our leg hair ( good for teenagers)
Alix Olson does quite a funny song on the subject, (from a queer perspective, I know plenty of lesbians shave and all, but it is slightly different for hetero women)

Anyway I know there are more pressing issues for the modern feminist, but these are my thoughts for today.

* In 'this 'world without beards' there was never any connection between the balaclava and terrorism...

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

The Edinburgh Dungeons- another childhood memory shattered

I went to the Edinburgh dungeons today on a 'staff development outing' ( I know sounds scarily like something that actual proper grown ups do, but I mostly went for the free lunch)

I didn't know what to think about the dungeons. I had previously been a bit of a fan, I went to the York dungeons for my 10th birthday and thought it was just about the best thing ever. This was during my 'outbreak/horrible history' phase, very much into infectious diseases and gruesome things in general. I was fascinated by every disgusting symptom of the plague and found torture disconcerting but intreguing. I have since visited all the dungeon franchise in the uk, though not for quite a while.

Before today I had a vague notion that feminists don't like the dungeons, and thinking about it I can understand why. The glorification ( or perhaps gorification) of violence against women in the form of the horrific treatment of women accused of witchery/prostitution, seems like simple enough anti-feminism - but still it is part of our past, and it can be good to leave the gory bits in history if it's done properly.
Unfortuntely the Edinburgh dungeons does not manage this, mostly as a result of their heavy reliance on attention seeking twerpy students who shout a lot and make humourless lewd innuendos.

I mean most of the acting was bad, that's ok, I expect that - these are not ex RADA they are a tourist attraction; the first guy though was not just a bad actor, but a complete jerk. Now I know that his role was supposed to be that of the complete jerk, but there are ways if pretending to be a nasty judge ( he was supposed to be a nasty judge - judge mental I think was his character, hmm clever) without resorting to racism and sexual harassment.

It was the bit where you are supposed to be at a trial, and he calls a member of our group up to the dock, who happens to come from India. He says ' Where are you from' she says 'India' to which he replies 'Well that's enough for me, go home - you're guilty, go back to where you came from'.

I think that counts as racism, and I think he sort of realised as he said after 'well that would have been more funny if you had come from Glasgow'. Perhaps, it certainly would have been less racist ( though you know quite regionalist/classist - but that's a whole other minefield).

Throughout his act he made lewd sexual comments to the women in the audience, accused women of being skanks - kept saying 'you love it don't you, you love it' over and over and over to various different women and girls. He looked in my direction at one point and said 'you love it don't you' to which I replied 'love what?'. Funnily enough at that point he started picking on someone else.The one man he called to the dock he accused of being gay and made loads of intensely homophobic comments(before ending with some Wales sheep shagging hilarity), and he called up a pre-teen girl and called her ugly. Good work.

I know these things are supposed to be mean, but it would be possible to do this without being hideously offensive (yes I do realise the contradiction in demanding that someone offends people in a non offensive manner, but you know what I mean, nastiness that doesn't emphasise or reflect societal opression)

He could have stuck to the surreal - like ' you have really smelly elbows' general weirdness, or witchcraft and the supernatural:-

'You are a witch' ' you like to eat pies made out of poo' 'you have been stealing other people's flowers and shoving them up your nostrils' etc etc....

Still at least acting the part of 'unpleasant human being number 01' wasn't much of a challenge for him.

Most of the actors were like this, and they were all, with only 1 exception - white men. The only female actor lead us from the boat bit into another room, and didn't do much performing. I remember the dungeons used to have some historical content but that seems to have almost totally disappeared.
As with much history there was 100% male narration, with women only featuring as vampires or victims of violence.There was a bit in the anatomy part where a guy tried to force one of the other women in our group to kiss this heart thing (I tried to touch it, but he wouldn't let me, would have perhaps de-mystified the whole thing if everyone had found out it was just a bit of brown rubber) whilst repeating 'I bet you've had worse on a Friday night'.
To top this off the blackboard it said 'women's brains are scientifically proven to be smaller than human brains'.
Now I know the past is sexist, damnit I know the present is sexist - but this wasn't about showing how unfair the past was - it was about yet another unfunny joke. It may have been more acceptable if there were female actors but the only women there seemed to work behind the reception or in the gift shop.

Anyway the whole thing is a pile of crap, and I am sad to add it to the 'list of things that I actually quite enjoyed as a child but will unfortunately not be letting my children experience*' along with Disneyland, MacDonalds food and caravan sites in Hornsea.

* should I ever have any, that is one ridiculously grown up thing that will not be happening for a long while

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Um I know you're probably not the manager here but.....

So I had this T shirt on my concience for a while, it is in this shop on North Bridge called Star. I don't wear little jackts with coloured stars on, but if I did I would certainly buy them elsewhere...

It has a little swoosh and it says Pikey, Just Nick It, though I misread it, I thought it said pikey 'just kick it' The first time I saw it I was suitabley appaled at what seemed to be the incitement of violence against a racialised group, but I was late for work, ok that's a convenient enough reason to just leave it for now...

Then on it continued with the mental excuses, like when you tell yourself you are too poor to buy the big issue, or sign up to give Oxfam a fiver a week . Still the little voice inside my head which whispers things like 'you know if you don't actively oppose this, you condone it' wouldn't shut up, so I decided to cross the road ( I had taken to walking on the other side - I think ' I can't go and say something because it's on the other side of the road' is the most pitiful of mental excuses)

So I went in and there was a woman with long black hair working at the till. Now I know the people in the shop didn't make the T shirt, and they probably hate their shitty jobs - which is why I feel bad complaining to them. Hence my approach is woefully sheepish, which is stupid because I know my point to be valid and ultimately right. Also I don't see why I should be the only one to have a pricking conscience, and someone did decide to order and sell that T shirt.

'Um I know you are probably not the manager here but, you're selling this T shirt that is kind of, well it's incitement of violence against a racialised group - that one that says pikey just kick it'
It was then pointed out that it says 'Pikey just nick it' which is worse really, but it meant a change in my argument ' Well um, that's just as bad, I mean it makes out that Gypsies just steal things'

An Emo guy came along and pointed out that the police had been in, and that they had a good laugh at it.

Aaaah the police, I thought, that well known force of justice, fairness and not being racist pricks.

'Yeah, but the police are a bunch of racist pricks' - I did indeed say that, I sensed it might give me a bit of crediblity. I mean these guys had lots of piercings, that necessitates a mistrust of the 'pigs' doesn't it?

(I am aware that there are probably some fanatastic anti racist individuals in the police force, and what I said was a generalisation and I should perhaps have said ' yes well, the police force is reported to suffer from problems of racism, both institutional and personal, though no doubt some individuals have good intentions, such a position of power is particularly open to abuse, and that the victims and purpotraters of crimes are really victims of an intrinsically unjust social system which the police form an opressive part of'. Still I think the basic point is the same.)

This made them smile and I think showed them that I had a sense of humour, god forfend we British ever be accused of not having a sense of humour. I sometimes think it is our biggest concern, something that has been shown in the recent london Mayoral elections, still I digress.

'People who call themselves pikeys have been in and they thought it was funny'

Now I am 99.9998% sure that is bullshit. I try to imagine the situation 'Hello there, I am a Romany Gypsy, with a long lasting heritage and I find the term pikey really rather amusing, and in no way offensive. I also find the fact that you reduce our historic lifestyle to mere theft to be particularly funny, which is afterall much more important than the fact that it encourages people to hate and mistreat us - do you know where I could pick up a copy of the Daily Mail?'

On the offchance that gypsy travellers did happen upon the T shirt, and laughed, this obviously does not make it ok. I also wonder if the term 'pikey' is understood in Scotland, and maybe he think it just means 'Ned'.

Anyway I mutter something about Edinburgh Lothian Race Equality Council, and leave, probably having made little difference but at least I don't have to cross the street to avoid my concience. Unless of course there are big issue sellers, or Oxfam direct debit recruiters..

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

My Atheism is My Privalage

I am an athiest, but that hasn't always been the case. I was brought up in a Salvation Army family, I played carols on my trombone for old folks at christmas and believed in a god. Specifically Mr Christian God, though Jesus Mary and all the rest of it didn't always ring true.

I regard my athiesm as a faith because I think the most logical approach to religion is agnostocism. I mean there could be a large rabbit in the sky that generates solar systems simply by wiggling its ears, our measly
galaxy have been shat out by a 10 ton parrot in another dimension - nobody really knows*.

The reason I am an atheist is partly because of feminism. Somewhere along the line it occoured that the people who suffer most in this world tend to be a combination of black, non western, women. It may seem simplistic, but I came to the conclusion that no God worth following would shit so consistently on those who aren't white male and rich.

I know there are ways in which the problem of evil can be explained, and that there are deeper philosophical arguments which I am completely ignoring. It's not that I think these arguments are irrelevant, but because I had a more important revalation today.

That my Athiesm is one of my privalages as a white western woman, and that it is vital that a discussion on faith and feminism should understand what religion means from a non western perspective.

In the white western world (and here I am specifically talking about the US and the UK though this counts for much of Europe too)
we veiw religion as a sort of personal faith. Religion is an individual thing, about what you believe more than what you actually do. This has not come out of nowhere, it is the product of hundreds of years of Protestant Christianity dominating politics and culture. No matter how secularised we feel as a nation, we live with this legacy.

This legacy dictates that we tend to veiw other religons in terms of protestant christianity. This is clearly flawed, as many non protestant religions define themselves by practice, rather than through faith alone. We cannot talk about other religions in terms of belief and ignore their important social functions.

Similarly we shouldn't misunderstand the connection between religion and identity. This is what I mean by athiesm being my privalage.

I am white and from the west, and my previous religious identity was protestant christian, therefore it is very easy for me to abandon.
I can say 'hey guess what, I'm an athiest now' and no one will say to me, 'but you're really jewish aren't you?' or 'I thought you were a sikh?'. That is one of the privalages connected to the colour of my skin and the country of my birth.

For the protestant christian, their religion need not be a part of their identity because for so many years it has been the norm. This is not the case for muslims, jews, sikhs, hindus, catholics etc. If you are born into one of these religions it is likely to be a part of your identity whether you want it to be or not. Even if you abandon all religous practice, you may still be identified with that particular religion. This is because these religions are the 'other' and protestant christianity is the norm - just as white skin and having a willy are also viewed as normative.

Abandoning your religion may not be an option, nor may it be desireable because it is so connected to an 'othered' identity. Religion may be a source of strength and community where a community is opressed,the practices of religion may serve an important social function which cannot be cast aside in the name of ideology.

This is why my athiesm is very much my privalage. I think one of the problems that could be connected to faith and feminism is the misunderstanding of religion, and of athiesm itself. It is important to understand that athiesm is actually an intrinsic part of protestant christianity.
Even though I can give up my christianity, I cannot give up my privalage which arises from that particular religion, and its history of political dominiance.

I am not saying that there are only white athiests, or that it is impossible to become an athiest if you were not previously protestant christian. Of course that is possible, but more of a previous religious identity is likely to be retained.
Nor do I wish to suggest that white protestants do not view their christianity as part of their identity. I know many that do, and I know it can be complex. The Salvation Army for example has an important social function and it does remain a part of my identity despite my lack of belief in god and copious consumption of alcohol.

Thus I guess what I am saying is that even athiests cannot seperate religion from culture, even if you abandon religion it is still a vital part of your cultural context.
This is a result of history which we cannot just ignore, but the fact that protestant christianity is so normative makes it harder to see. Particularly for the dawkins generation.

So then though I am an athiest I think this is my privalage as a resident of a protestant christian coountry. I don't think you have to be an athiest to be a feminist, (even though I think Mr Christian God, and indeed Mr Allah and any of the other male conceptions of a deity are patriachal**) because the social function of a religion may be seperate from actual belief. Nor am I saying that you can't be a feminist and believe in a god - but I think it probably makes it harder.


* Not even Douglas Adams
** I do not wish to imply that all conceptions of the deity are masculine. Having said that if there is a female god then she is a maschocist.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

A silly song/poem/distraction

A song dedicated to the bad mood which is just not romantic in any way. And to the possible failing of impending exams.

Even Morrissey lets me down…….

When even Tuesday morning
Is silent and grey
And the working classes
Have got nothing good to say

When you are no-one’s fatty
Or even someone’s lass
And there’s nothing less poetic
Than being middle class

One thing I wonder
As I brood around this town
Is why continue to respire
Even Morrissey lets me down

I used to think you got me
That you really knew
But there’s more to life than books you know
And more to life than you

I tried hiding in my room
When I felt I was ignored
I did it for 10 minutes
and just got really bored

I mooched around a council block
And a factory floor
I didn’t find my muse
They were all just rather poor

I thought then I’d be celibate
You made it seem so great
But all I do is think of sex
And often masturbate ( am I doing it wrong Morissey?)

I hated my successful friends
I tried it once or twice
But that was also difficult
They’re all just really nice

I tried to hang the DJ
But they kicked me out the pub
They thought I was a mentalist
And hit me with a club

I gave up eating meat for you
I gave up eating fish
Now I’d swap my copy of ‘The queen is dead’
For a large bacon sandwich

One thing I wonder
As I brood around this town
Is why continue to respire
Even Morrissey lets me down

Wednesday, April 2, 2008


One of the wonderful things about the internet is how much it facilitates learning stuff, lots of stuff, stuff you never even thought about thinking about. This week I have been learning about asexuality through a fantastic website AVEN. Asexuality seems like one of those things that it seems obvious exists, like the stock market or electricity. And like the electricity and the international markets, I have no idea how asexuality works, or at least didn't until I became fascinated by this website (it didn't tell me anything about the nasdaq but that's ok, I'm not really interested)

I am not asexual, I have known I had a sex drive for a very long time, pretty much ever since I bought Pulp's, 'Different Class' .
Not only that, but I think sex is pretty much the most interesting thing ever. How ,when, why, with whom, how what we do is connected to and/or constructed by the world in which we live. I could talk about sex until the cows come (yup there it is, the worst joke I have ever made) I appreciate that some people like to keep these things private, which is probably why it is all so interesting.

So learning that there are a whole group of people out there who just don't have sexual attraction to anybody, seemed like a bit of an alien concept to me. Hard to get to grips with, what do they do in relationships? how come they don't want to have sex, I mean that's like not wanting to eat surely?
The more I read of this site the more I realised that asexuality is a perfectly valid thing, and the fact that the world we live in is so hyper-sexual (at least our western one) explains why few people understand asexuality. Part of me was like, 'huh, lucky them - never have to worry about going ages without sex'. This is a completely stupid reaction; in a world where everybody expects sexuality being asexual could be very isolating. It must be very difficult having people think that there is something wrong with you (probably more tough than extended dry periods)
Asexuality is probably less understood than homosexuality even though it is not a particularly difficult concept. You may be attracted to men, women , (trans men trans women queers tick as many boxes as you wish) or just nobody. There are people I am attracted to and people I am not, it is perfectly logical and valid that a person just might not be attracted to anybody.

The AVEN website is fascinating because people are so open about their relationships and sex lives, I guess because they frequently encounter so much curiosity. Where I do think that it would totally be within their rights to say - 'we are asexual, deal with it, and fuck right off with your patronising curiosity' I do find it fascinating hearing so many people talk about how their relationships work in a totally non-sexual context. (Even though again, it's not very difficult to understand, I have very emotionally involved friendships with people I am not sexual with.)
Most of the relationships people speak about, do seem very deep and worthwhile and there is even something appealing about the way that they are always looking for something which to me seems 'beyond sex'. Though thinking about it, it's not really 'beyond sex' it's just without it. An absence of something that has never been there anyway. For a sexual person, the mutual understanding and emotional connection may be 'beyond sex', because we tend to measure our relationships by the act of intercourse. Sex first, other stuff later. People we sleep with, people we don't. It's romanticising asexuality to assume that their relationships are automatically 'deep and meaningful', they may or may not be, asexuals are just not oriented toward sexuality so they just won't want sex, or at least they won't have sexual attraction. They are not choosing something very deep over something shallow, they just don't want sex. It's like if a person just doesn't like chocolate so they don't eat it. They may or may not be healthy ( they might stick to fruit and veg, or they might always eat fry ups for example)
Still I find myself admiring these relationships that don't have sex at their core, and can't help thinking that maybe sexuals have something to learn from asexuals in the way we value relationships.

Then again, I also can't help fancying the pants off the main spokesperson for asexuality David Jay....

This is a trailer for a documentary on asexuality which looks quite interesting.

I guess it's good to understand other people, and there are so many things in life that make us aware of the massive multiplicity of experiences, and allow us to step outside our own.
It does make me wonder where asexuality and feminism all fits together. if you believe sexuality to be socially constructed then that goes for asexuality too. We don't want to be hetero-normative, how does asexuality fit into that? How does one avoid being 'sexual-normative'? Perhaps this is all rather individualistic and there are plenty of much more pressing issues out there above and beyond the sexuality of individuals.
Anyway that's all for now, would be interested in the thoughts of others.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Bits of inconsequential unconnected minor good stuff

Something I have got quite into lately is pulling,( the programme, not the process of going out and acquiring a sexual partner, that's not bad either). I didn't expect it to be all that good, but turns out it's funny and honest with some good female characters. In the first episode Sharon Horgan's character is miffed because all her friends went out and had wild adventures on a night she stayed in. Definately one of those 'Damn I'm so like that' moments of TV
(the first time I ever felt that I was 10 years old and it was whilst watching an episode of the simpsons where Lisa gets pissed off because there is nothing left to protest about. Luckily as I grew up I realised there is always something to protest about)

I guess I mention this because I am in and it is half past 11 on a friday. Prime adventure having time. Tonight instead of an adventure I went to lidl, but I must have been in the adventure frame of mind as my shopping bag resembled a game of 'when I went to the supermarket I bought' played by precocious middle class children.
I always thought planning meals was for losers, but I may have to start doing it as I came home with blueberries, wine, little ranch farmyard jelly creatures, green tea and most excitingly crabs - 8 for £4 complete with shells and faces. Now I am thinking about defrosting one of them and carefully placing it in various uexpected locations within our flat. mwah haha.

I was in a good mood today for no reason, so I thought I'd blog as I generally tend to write when pissed off. It started off well, I got 2 fantastic books in the post, Black British Feminism - a reader, and Blue Pills. Read quite a bit of the feminism book, it has some really good essays in though I felt guilty for sitting about reading academic stuff which is completely not related to my impending exams. Blue Pills I read in one sitting and is just wonderful. It's a graphic novel about one man's relationship with someone he learns early on is HIV+. It is absolutely fantastic, I never thought I could love a graphic novel so much.

Blue Pills was so good my walk to work was almost joyful, and I noticed all the things about Edinburgh that make me feel happy, and strangers didn't seem like a sea of morons but interesting people with lives and stories..
my thoughts were somewhere along the lines of
'SOLIDARITY, EQUALITY , ORGANISE REVOLUTION!! Hell yes, I'm with you, when does it start? what brilliant graffitti- someone wants things to change so much they have sprayed it on the wall, look that pigeon has a tuft on it's head that looks like a mohecian, brilliant - hey look at that EMO girl wearing flares and a big black T shirt just to hang out, how fantastic, isn't youth brilliant'
and so on and so forth. Far too happy, in retrospect.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Up yours Enoch and The BBC

I got a letter from the BBC complaints department which I thought I would re-produce here for shits and giggles. I was quite excited to get a personal email back after my complaint about their 'Enoch Powell might have been right, everybody better go out and buy the Daily Mail so they can beat a black person to death with it' - 'documentary'.
Ok , so I don't think it was called that, but the whole thing basically tried to suggest that old Enoch was right, a patriot and that his concerns were legitimate. It had a definate pro Powell bias, it's horrible and can be veiwed here ( for the next 6 days) should you wish.


Naturally the idea of someone complaining to the BBC conjours up the image of some grey haired old fusspot, with too much time on their hands, whinging because someone said fuck before the watershed. All this has changed with the internet and if you are annoyed you can complain very easily.
Now this isn't a very well written complaint because it was late, and its rushed - but here it is anyway :-

"I am writing to make a complaint about the so-called examination of enoch powell's speech which was both racist and inflamatory. I found the documentary to be very oversimplifying, it completely failed to look into racist immigration legislation, the consequences of imperial history or infact the way the media was itself racist in the 60s and 70s. The programme continually asked if enoch was right, which is completely objectionable. It harked back to some kind of working class nostalgia by portraying working class white people as somehow the voice of the british.
>It made multiculturalism and immigration seem like the problem, without ever asking if it might be something to do with the fact that racism is, and always has been inherent within British society.
>Dockers were not portrayed as racist, but the students were labelled 'radical' for taking a stand against racism. Enoch's speech was called a 'prophecy', you said without any proof that communities are divided, there was large amounts of racist footage without any qualifiers, and the programme ended in a way that suggested that Powell was right
>The whole thing was objectionable and highly offensive, racist veiwing. I thought the BBC was better than that."

If you want a much more academic veiw from an actual historian, Joe Street* wrote a much better letter of complaint here:-


It has a lot of proper facts and makes the point much better than I did.

Anyway the BBC responded - however I have just noticed that the email they sent me is apparently 'confidential' and may not be republished anywhere without their permission. I am very tempted to ignore this - but instead I will paraphrase their response. If you want to see the real thing then ask me and you can read it.The BBC did not say the following...

" I can see that you thought our documentary was a racist piece of crap because that's what you said in your lettter'

" Powell was super dooper, he was a very smart man who had a lot of ideas on different policy areas (economic/identitiy which are still pretty important now" ( ideas like send home the 'pecanninnies'? Hitler was a very smart guy but you don't see documentaries waxing lyrical about his intelligence and foresight - I am not saying he was Hitler but my point remains)

" There were more anti powell than pro powell commentators" I don't think this is actually the case, but still you don't see many pro hitler comment on documentaries about him. There is a reason for that.

" We used footage of people in the 50s 60s and 70s with veiws that make us feel squirmish' exactly yes you did, without every condemning them as racist, you made that all seem ok and normal.

"Look we did try and challenge Powell's use of language and criticised his racism" ahem no, you didn't, I watched the documentary and work for an anti racist organisation. I can tell a challenge to racism when I see one, that was not it.

"Immigration is important and a real concern for loads of people, and even big important people think so, like MPs and opinion formers and even the arch bishop of cantebury, so stop moaning"

Who the fuck is an 'opinion former'- what kind of creepy thing is that? Am I an opinion former cos I write this blog, do you mean Richard Littlejohn and his satanic ilk? Is it some kind of computer telling us all what normal people think? Who are these opinion formers and what do they do? Also I never said immigration was not a worthy debate, it is one that should be examined in a non simplifyingway which considers the issue from many sides, not just the racist side of one Tory MP. Also the arch-bishop of Cantebury? Whoopdie shit, who cares!

* is it me or is that the coolest name for a historian ever?

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

More of the same then...

The essay is done and I am in one of the library computing labs.

I thought I would write some more blog partly because it's so theraputic. Virginia Woolf wrote 'To the lighthouse' as some sort of therapy, I have this blog. I guess it's up to you to decide which is better.

I also need to look busy to justify being at a computer, before the guilt of watching people meander about the place who really need computers ( probably to finish typing up their PHDs on curing all cancer no doubt) kicks in, and I get the hell out of here.

I am stalling partly because I'm tired, and partly because I have misjudged time. I have to be somewhere a bit far away in 2hours 45 minutes - I could go home, I don't live too far away... I fear if I go home I won't actually be able to leave the house, ever again, ever. I'll just sit there ordering takeaways until the bank come round and demand that I pay off my overdraft,by this time I will probably be so fat that I can live off incapacity benefits, and my life will resemble a cross between one particularly funny episode of the Simpsons, and a channel 4 documentary/freak show about hyper obesity.

Anyway yes, so my options are - hand this essay in, bum around uni, bum around town- which I will probably do in a zombiefied stupor like the zombie who just realised that their existence in zombie form is really meaningless, and all anyone ever does is consume at the expense of others (hang on a minute....)

One thing that made me despair today was taking out the bin on my way here. I had finally left the house, (only about an hour after I had decided to - wow)

I decided to take out the bin bag like the concientious flatmate that I am. I am about to fling it in to the big bin when, to my horror the bin liner collapses. A moldy apple falls at my feet, the bag breaks apart and last nights takaway container drifts down the street. All I can do is stare at it with bin juice all over my hands (is there anything more gross than bin juice? I mean last night I made rice and drained it in a collindar, and there was all this white rice water which was just like semen, and it was all over the dishes in the sink.That was pretty gross - but not as gross as bin juice)
In my tired state the takeaway container looked like a metaphor for umm, I dunno 'sad'?

anyway that killed 20 minutes....

There was a happy ending, the bin bag made it into the bin,I washed my hands and this essay though crap is finished - hurrah!

Wasted Wednesday

I am tired, so tired, the sort of tired when everything stops making sense, and the world is tinged with a kind of horror and weirdness and your whole conciousness feels like it's full of fluff. I am not yet out of the house, I will get there at some point, I do have stuff to do, I just keep having to stop and stare and remember to keep my body moving.

I stayed up doing an essay, actually that's a total lie. I stayed up until 1:30 doing my essay, inbetween writing nothingy comments on friends walls and 'oh so pithy' status updates, so that the facebook world remembers that I am a bag of hilarity. Then I gave up - but the half litre of coffee I had consumed was reluctant to quit. Luckily I found a lush song which is, like, totally about my life, so I listened to it again, and again and again. I mimed the words, i thought about putting it on compiliation cds for parties, I surfed the web.

I love coffee and I quite like the effect lots of coffee has in speeding you up (I have never taken proper drugs...is that obvious?) but not on a weekday, it's not good to have a burning desire to dance around at 3 in the morning when you are alone, with a flatmate sound asleep in the next room. Obviously you can dance, but it involves putting headphones into your computer at which point you start to feel like a tosser (or flicker lets not be phallocentric here), but hell - it's 3am and you are 21 and full of caffine!!! At points you do wonder - what if my flatmate comes in, what if I am accidentally making too much noise,this music is just in my head isn't it? I would honestly rather be caught masturbating, everybody definately does that, I am not sure that everyone abandons their totally shite essay at 1700 words in favour of miming to mid 90s britpop.

Speaking of masturbating, something similar is eating a takeaway food alone. Eating a takeaway alone makes me feel sadder than drinking alone because at least that has some pretence of glamour (if it's red wine and you are me, and you wear a beret). Luckily my flatmate came back and ate a pizza whilst I ate my satay squid and pork dumplings so I didn't dispair. I reheated them just now and am currently worried that squid and pork left overnight unrefridgerated and then reheated might be a surefire recipie for food poisioning. I feel ok so far, though in my super tired state it did dawn on me how weird it was to eat tentacles for breakfast.

Anyway I am going to go now as I am still not in the library. Sometimes I worry that this blog doesn't suit it's title -today is not one of those days.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Miserable Mondays

I am starting to notice a pattern to my life - I don't like mondays, I'm not sure why,It's probably because I tend to read the paper inbetween lectures.Mondays do seem to be the origin of general dispair at the state of things.The generally make me want to shoot the whole week down, the rest of the month and perhaps certain political figures into the bargain.

Such as John Hutton, the labour minister for greed, who has today said that we should be congratulating people* with huge salaries. As if money and power are not enough, apparently they deserve a pat on the back for doing so darn well with their lives. Apparently we should not question the morality of money, I mean morality is for losers and poor people - who needs morality when you have a fuck off house in Surrey?

You can read the story here http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2008/mar/10/johnhutton.executivesalaries

He reckons we should question why this success isn't open to everyone, it amazes me that people can be so stupid.

Speaking of stupid there is the BBCs White Season which started at the weekend. I must admit I haven't watched anything so far but perhaps later, if I feel like being embarressed by an institution I will generally defend, I will have a look on iplayer.
However this advert for it makes me feel very uncomfortable.

I know for a fact that the British working classes have a raw deal, see any comments I have made about castleford below. The reason that working classes have a raw deal is because the middle classes dominate institutions like the BBC and put out stuff like this which is at worst horribly racist and at best incredibly misguided.

Watching this advertisment is like watching some kind of BNP recruitment video - I mean a brown hand writing on a male white face in black, until it disappears into black?!! Who are these brown people putting down the working class? In the main, what are the colour of the faces of those in political power, what are their gender (with one hideous exception from 79-90 - though I would question whether non human beings actually have gender)

Class is a structure of opression like race and gender, and I do think the working classes should be better represented, working classes of all racialised groups and genders -all this does is fuel race tension in an insidious fashion. The white working class doesn't have much of a say in things, I dare say they had little say in this programming. They certainly don't write articles for the sun, or for Eastenders or any of the other patronising stereotype peddling media.

Anyway I have much studying to do , Yuri Prasad expresses writes about this well here

I ate a really good sandwich today, from a new sandwich shop on the corner of buccleuch street. They use really good brie - it was really strong and flavourful - and they used lots of it. It had ham and rocket on a seedy roll.It has been the highlight of my day so far, thank goodness I made it into the middle class...

* I use 'people' but I could use 'men' here quite comfortabley - though I have too much to do to find a list of the 100 best paid in the uk to prove that most of them are men

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Sporty Saturdays !

Somewhere along the line it occoured to me that getting exercise would be positive (possibly I realised that heart disease wouldn't accept 'but I have period pain' as an excuse).

I have always hated sport, i come from a family that is genetically lazy (my dad has been known to drive to the corner shop) at school I had puppy fat that bordered on childhood obestiy, and even afer I lost this i was still the worst in the class by quite a long way. Luckily being smart, having a sense of humour and being a girl, nobody really cares.
Anyway I have decided to try and get more excersize through something that I enjoy because, well, I really would like to live a long time. I have great plans for my old age, most of which involve dyeing my hair bright blue, being cantakerous and weird and maybe even acquiring a toyboy 'ala Harold and Maude.

With all this in mind (particularly the toyboy) I think it's time to get active. Filled with enthusiasm and joined by a friend I embark on some saturday morning Badminton at the University of Edinburgh's Badminton club. Firstly getting dressed - now obviously my wardrobe is not over filled with sporty clothing.I have some red trouser things that are like a cross between joggers and skinny jeans (which I bought at connect festival because I was too stupid to bring anything warm to sleep in) I also have a baggy black Gorky's Zygotic Mynci T shirt and some maroon trainers. I think to myself - this will have to do. I look like a chubby indie geek, not someone who can really hit cock, but never mind.

First step get some badminton racquets - we find one in the Bethany shop, and then we pass this junk shop near Peckhams. I recommend everyone goes check this shop out, it's absolutely fantastic. It's run by this old guy who is misc foreign, with a lively sense of humour, and it is just piles and piles of stuff. Nothing has a price on it, he has everything- boots, bikes, accordians, badges and a lot of badminton racquets - which he gets out for me to look at. I have my eye on a very fetching retro wooden thing and I ask how much. He asks how much we paid for Amreet's, we say £2 - he then wants £6 (!) but I get it for £4 in the end, which I know is possibly too much, but it's such a fantastic shop.

Anyway we have racquets and we are now on our way to the pleasance, when it starts absolutely pissing it down. I have no other shoes just tatty old trainers and I begin to wonder if we have come to play badminton by mistake.

We eventually get there and leave our stuff in the changing room, first thing I notice is that there are a lot of people here - why are they not at home in bed? I begin to feel rather self concious as I obseve all the toned legs and proper gym wear. I usually enjoy looking a bit different, but not now - now I feel like a fraud, like it is very obvious that I do not do sport on a regular basis, and someone is about to come up to me and direct me to somewhere I would feel more at home, the nearest place that dispenses cake perhaps.

The courts are very full, and I revert to my P.E self of years gone by, and stand around making jokes with Amreet about how crap we are (I refrain from cock jokes as I am sure that these badminton people have heard them too many times before, and it may lead to some sort of social death within the badminton world). We completely fail to assert ourselves and get a court, and I feel very daft even though I can actually play badminton. It is quite conspicuous that we are outsiders and one of the friendly regulars takes us under their wing. We play a game, it was fun. My racquet was mocked by the regulars and they said I should play with one of thiers ( tsch! but it looks so cool, and it has a picture of an aeroplane on it and everything)

Anyway we play one game, and then fail to assert ourselves some more and do some kick ass standing around. After this I went to the parliament to give out abortion rights news letters. I am the pro choice majority! Actually there were 4 of us, which is quite funny - I guess the rest of the pro- choice majority didn't know about this, are asleep or perhaps out playing sport.

http://www.abortionrights.org.uk/ - for more information.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Miss Stupid Body

So it seems that there is a beauty pagent between all the Universities in Edinburgh. It's called Miss Student Body. Does anybody here think that's not horrible and sexist? Good, we are agreed then. There is a Mr Student Body apparently coming soon - a nice tokenistic effort to give them some kind of ( particularly weak ) argument against feminists. Either that or they are just exploring other markets, as that is what the whole thing is about. It's a big advertising scheme where they get your university email in order to target advertise to you. This is why they ask you what your favourite shows/films/music are - they claim that it's about 'personality' because personality is apparently important ( which is why it's called Ms Student Personality, oh wait...). Funny then that personality is dictated by your consumption! Their last question is 'what would you spend your money on' - whatever happened to 'how would you make the world a better place?'
They even have a thing on their sponsors page about 'the next generation of brand conscious consumers'........ excuse me while I throw up.

I think this should be the focus for some entertaining action - I have had a few ideas,one of my favourites is entering with the worst possible photo of myself ( complete with suitable jokey feminist slogan - perhaps objectify this!) and seeing how many votes I can get. Now I'm quite good at looking bad by accident, but when I try to look horrific I'm amazing. My face becomes a wonderful contortion of teeth and flab, I look like I have a serious facial disability, it's quite amusing ( though I shouldn't really use it as part of my flirting repoirtie, wouldn't want anyone to think that it was my orgasm face or anything)


I have entered and am now contestant 93 with a gurned up face, and a thing on my hand saying objectify this and a nicely contemptuous profile. As there aren't many contestants so far I am reluctant to draw attention to the thing, also you have to be a student in Edinburgh with a University email to see the profile ( you also have to give them your uni email - so I can understand if you don't want to go look at it!!)

To be honest I thought they might moderate my profile - but no, am in it. Now to see if there are any Edinburgh wide gurning contests.....

Monday, January 28, 2008

Monday in a Feminist Wasteland....

So this post is going to be somewhat self reflective, that's ok, that's what Mondays are all about. Mondays and Live Journal but I can't keep up with 2 blogs at once...

The day started off well, I was pleased at the guardian for featuring this story as their front page lead.


It's about the whiteness and maleness and richness ( or at least upper middle classness) of these high court judges. They also gave me a free mug. It was looking like it was going to be a good day.

I took my paper and got a coffee in the DHT cafeteria, putting my coat beside me on the floor. There was plenty of floor space, it was not blocking anything, nonetheless some old guy comes up and stands by me - staring at the coat.
"Is that how you treat your clothes?" he says, in the same way you might talk to a particularly immature 12 year old. I mumble something about it falling off the chair - he says " Well there is a chair there" and walks off.
I spend the rest of the time between my lecture fuming, what a jerk ! I'm 21 and have been wrecking my clothes with wild abandon for years, I buy them with money I earn(or borrow), I bear the consequences. I thought of all the things I should have said to him like ' Yes it is, is that how you think you can speak to people?' even just 'Bog Off' would have better than my wimpered submission. It put me in a cross mood for most of the morning.

Now obviously I cannot prove that this man felt as though he could talk to me like a child because I am younger than him, or because I am a woman. One of the frustrating aspects of Feminism is though some things you can prove, some of the other little opressions like old curly haired jerk (he never told me his name so it will have to be Curly - the big old jerk) are difficult because it is so easy to just reduce them to individual experiences. Take this to its natural conclusion and social problems cease to exist.

In the afternoon I had an English Literature tutorial on T.S Eliot, who I dislike (what can I say, old white dead/nearly dead men not in my good books). I dislike him because he is one of these elitist conservative old dead white men who we waste far too much time on in Literature. Bits of The Wasteland are ok, and I don't even mind the love song of J Alfred Prufrock, but I detest his essay 'Tradition and the Individual Talent'.

If you are not familiar with it I shall sum it up here - poets are a part of a glorious history of white male writers from Europe who are so much part of our heritage,that they live in the present. A good poet is not really connected to his work (women aren't poets obviously, neither are people from anywhere other than Europe) poems are these objective entities to be interpreted in themselves. Poets are cataylists who transform this glorious white male european tradition into something new/objective.

Read it if you want, I think it's dumb. As if poems aren't written with any intent, as if writers live in a vacuum. We were asked at the beginning of the tutorial what we thought and I said that I thought it was horrible crap, because it basically asserts the importance and dominance of rich white men over literature, and the whole concept of poets being seperate from poems is pathetic nonsense.

Some conservative guy stuck up for Eliot throughout, and I argued my point. When he said he thought Eliot was good I asked why. It turned out, in that instance, I had misheard, he was saying that he thought the girl who was presenting was good ( oops, me and my big mouth!). It's ok it was all realised, it wasn't too embarressing - I did not appear to be a colossal bitch. It was a pretty good tutorial really, we went into the politics of the canon, there was debate (me and the mature student agreeing Eliot to be up his own arse, two Jack Willis clad guys from the south of England thinking perhaps we haven't given him a fair go)

Anyway my main point here is that on my way out I was walking alongside the guy who I had disagreed with, and I said

'Didn't mean to come across so agressive in there'

What the?!! He jovially replied 'It was good! It's a shame we didn't get more time'
Why the hell did I say that?
'I am sorry for asserting my opinion'.
I know why I said it, he was next to me and I wanted to make some conversation because I didn't want to look like a bitch. It was then I realised how much we internalise these ideas about gender. All I had done was assert a valid point, it wasn't something I should have been apologising for.
Equally here we see the importance of language - heterosexual men don't get called bitches, and thus can assert themselves as much as thy like without thinking 'I hope they don't think I'm a bitch'.

What a loser! To top it off the German society have a poster of a woman's ample cleavage to advertise their event 'bodacious beer'. I had some stickers in my bag left over from a feminist network meeting. The best thing I could think of to write was 'This crap is why I'm a feminist' ( I thought about putting sexistisch but that might not mean what I think it does...). It felt good though.

If only I could find Curly - the big old jerk, I could put one on his back......

This is what I got when I typed 'Curly the big old jerk' into google images. Yeah ....you kiss my shoes Mr....

Monday, January 21, 2008

Wil Hodgson and others....

I just spent a night at the stand for some , ahem 'comedy'. I had heard good things about the headline act Wil Hodgson and looked forward to seeing him. It was such a shame that watching his act necessitated sitting through the drivel that was the acts which preceded him. I was with a particularly awesome friend who had a hard time calling it shit, prefering to deem it lazy and stupid, and not her sense of humour. I am not that gracious*. It was a piece of shit. I don't admire stand up comics just for being confident any more than I would admire the confidence of a teenage boy getting his dick out on the bus. Nor am I particularly worried about hurting anyone's feelings - I think if you get on stage and say something you are accountable for it. I wouldn't judge harshly someone with poor material or poor delivery, but the world doesn't occour in a vacuum and what we say affects other people. Thus offensive stand ups deserve slating. Comedy is always political, whatever its about.

Throughout the night I sat there thinking , either I don't have a sense of humour or I am surrounded by morons.
(ok so I appreciate here that I am being horrifically elitist and of course I think the capitalist patriachal system forces people into appreciating crap)

So yes - in the spirit of pretending to be a journalist ( though not one who abides by grammatical convention - oh no.)


John Whale was up first. A chripy geordie lad whose jokes lacked originality, but were mostly inoffensive. He chose cliche as his topic and made some amusing observations which were tied together well. Not hilarious or smart, but didn't make me feel any hatred. hurrah.

When Martin McAlistar took to the stage my heart sank. Having seen him before at lemon custard I knew I was in for 10 minutes plus of boredom. His stories revolve around himself being a stalker.There are no jokes, just a particular slow style of delivery that might somehow delude people into thinking he is funny. He makes light of sexual harrassment, stalking and then goes on to tell an obvioulsy made up story which derives its 'humour' from the idea of a promiscuous woman. Funnily enough I don't find sexual harrassment amusing, but then I am female, and like most women I have experienced sexual harrassment**. It's never funny. The same can be said of Martin.

Dee Custance was better. Not hilarious, and she did tend towards 'dippy' comedy, but she was very likeable/ amusing in places.Has definate potential.

Gus Tawse was awful. It's hard for me to remember his exact material as I have seen his type of comedian too many times before. The audience seemed to get into it, jokes which stuck out were not wanting Madeliene McCann's mum for a babysitter ( because obviously just the mother's fault....) something about a girl not wanting to sleep with him so he shot her in the legs ( aah yes sexual violence, it's just such a larf).I can't remember the rest but it was repulsive.

Wil Hodgson was like a breath of fresh air by the time he came to the stage,and it was disappointing that his set was so short , with his material about liking 'real' women (not feminist as such, but woman friendly) taking up most of the time. You could tell that he would put on a good show given a little more time to build his persona, unfortunatley he was pushed for time and a bit lack lustre(maybe he had just sat through the acts on before him). Watching him was like getting to know a brillinat non conformist, who you know has 'lived': I was interested in what he had to say. It was a shame that he didn't talk about more than just readers wives and my little pony, but I felt like he was going to. He also said that people who read nuts ought to have their heads bashed in with a sledge hammer (solidarity brother; though lets start with the publishers shall we? Anyone know the way to the headquaters of EMAP?)

The whole thing was compered by Joe Heenan, who was very much that annoying kid at school who thinks he is funny because he can do lots of voices. He also went in for some of that 'lets offend the audience' type stuff, and he said that a woman who was 19 looked about 12, I mean he would know, that was the sort of mental age his compering was aimed at.

All in all a mediocre night, I would see Wil Hodgson again but it was tough sitting so much appaling offensive drivel.

* said friend made a very good point about this blog : when I say that I hope people like Rupert Murdoch die of cancer weakens my arguments. It probably does, I can't help it. I still think Rupert Murdoch deserves to die from a very painful cancer.

** am not trying to speak for all women BUT every woman who I have ever spoken to about this can identify an incident where they have been sexually pestered/harrassed/threatened in some way. Anecdotal perhaps, true yes.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Sex......... with Mum and Dad

I live without TV, but I have newly discovered the BBC I player in my quest to watch Louis Theroux, a long term object of my affections.I came across a show called Sex ....with mum and dad. Naturally my curiousity was aroused, particularly owing to the fact that this was a BBC show, not some sort of channel 5 orgy of incest.
It managed to remind me why I hate TV, why the media are by enlarge evil, and why a revolution is really very long overdue.All this and I generally like documentaries about sex.

The premise is that 2 families have issues with .....SEX ( this is how the narration was, a nice BBC voice which gave dramatic pauses before forcefully emphasising the word .....sex. Really very funny)
Can a SEXologist from the Nether Region help them out with her frank and honest approach? Will chatting about wanking infront of their parents give these youngsters healthier sex lives and 'sort out their families'?

The show introduced us to a girl of 18. Cheryl is working class, she wears low cut tops, high cut skirts and is evidently in need of a dentist. She is from Essex and rows with her mum.
It goes without saying that she has a lot of sex, and the sexologist wants her to talk about it. She asks her if she has orgasms when she has sex, to which she replies 'sometimes'. The sexologist says something like 'if he cuddles you and is very loving then you do? If he is selfish not so much?'( So that's how to have orgasms every time, if only I had realised it was that simple.)

Anyway Cheryl is obviously supposed to be some fallen woman, and the main focus of her narrative within the show is the number of sexual partners she has had. Cheryl is asked if she uses contraception, she replies 'most of the time' . The narrator then repeatedly states that she often has unprotected sex, and it is supposed to be a big shock that she is free of STIs, even though she has said that she practices safe sex.
Her visit to the gynacologist also made me cringe, the doctor was male - despite the fact that most GUM clinics will let you see a female doctor ( he was white too) . It was as if she was a school child being told off for bad behaviour, and again she is reminded about contraception.

Next up is a mysoginistic boy of mixed heritage from Doncaster. His attitude to women is obviously appaling, though it is never explored where these attitudes have come from. He doesn't treat his mother with respect and his hatred for women is clear. He lost his virginity to a prostitute, and is told off by his mum for going with 'that sort of girl'. Going with a prostitute is implied to be something that makes him unclean. No mention of the number of his sexual partners is made, it is all about how he can be better to women by 'wining and dining them'. He is not taken to a GUM clinic and made to sit infront of a doctor, nor does anyone ever ask him if he uses contraception.

By the end of the show Cheryl had cried rather falsely to her mum, talked about her dad leaving and the number of people she had been with. Her mum asks her if she thinks about her reputation. She has stopped wearing such revealing clothing and now sits with her legs crossed. I guess she is now a lady.
The boy has apparently learned that women are people, though to what extent I am not sure. He has learned to be nice to his mum - and that decent women like to wait for sex.
The lesson seems to be if you are female, better not have too much sex, if you are male - don't be nasty to women, wine and dine them..

Thank goodness I am middle class so I conduct myself in whatever sexual manner I choose and more or less get away with it.

Way to go BBC, yet again the lower working classes ( young women in particular) are framed, constructed and ridiculed for the entertainment of the so called middle class majority. Also managed to get some regionalism in there too - and lets not forget race.

Worst of it is I was entertained.I was sucked in, I enjoyed watching these poor young people be humiliated untill the cogs of deconstruction in my mind started whirring. Then I felt a strange mix of fascination and guilt. I'm sorry Cheryl - maybe I will dedicate my next post to her.

Friday, January 11, 2008


Today we rated the 7 deadly sins in order of how fun they are.

This is the order


We then did the same with the cardinal virtues. This is the order.


In order of preference this is them both together


And this is one image I found typing the word 'temperence' into google images.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Out weirding...

Someone by the name of kisses for munches (!) just started talking to me on skype.
This was the conversation

kisses for muches 20:43


Liz Ely 20:43

who are you?

kisses for muches 20:44


Liz Ely 20:44

than what - an ant, cos they can lift 50 times their body weight
a beaver?
an ostritch - you don't want to be on the wrong side of one of those

kisses for muches 20:47




I out-weirded a weirdo! Cue misplaced pride...

Friday, January 4, 2008

A short note on hats

I like hats, I like to wear them to go out - but this comes at a price. At some point some random dickhead will inevitabley steal the hat from your head and then place it on his own head. They must think that it is amusing, a jovial way to get you to talk to them which will eventually lead to sex. Little do they know that it never ever will.
This week i decided to completely over-react to some prattish hat japery, turned round, grabbed the hat from the stripey shirted, gelled moron and shouted 'Don't ever do that!!'. He cowered, I laughed internally. It was very satisfying. It probably made me look nuts but fuck it, he might think twice about being an arsehole. I did ruin my chances there but then I do have a no sex with morons rule...

I think I might try some more amusing ways to over-react to stupid morons, if only I could fake tears.....