18 Jan 2013

My Age Is Probably A Health And Safety Risk

So nearly everyone I know now has a combination of any of these three things: a job, a drivers license, and a an email from a university telling them they have a conditional offer. I have none of these things. That's a lie, I have two jobs, but both of them routinely forget that I exist. I have never had a driving lesson, so it's pretty clear where that's going, and I didn't apply to uni this year, because for some reason I feel the need to stay at home for another year, crying and clutching bank statements to my chest. That's what most people do on a gap year, right? (Note, gap YEAR, not YARH.) 
So, point being, a week from today, I will be eighteen. That's like, big numbers. I will be old. I will be a "grown up", what ever that is. I seem to have convinced myself that on my birthday I will magically grow three inches, and the added height is what will make me gain responsibility. I have decided, I am not ready to grow up yet. However, in my eighteen (nearly) eighteen years of life, I have accomplished some things. I can:
  • Treat a cat for fleas
  • Do the the basic steps for a Charleston and a waltz
  • Fix a bookcase using a complex balancing system
  • Put on a duvet cover without getting trapped inside it for half an hour
  • Send a text while going at speed on a horse
  • Change a light bulb
  • Do a cartwheel with one hand
  • Write a semi-decent short story
  • Fit inside my kitchen cupboard for an emergency hiding space
  • Make really nice cake
I cannot fill a dishwasher properly, sew on a button, order anything in a restaurant without panicking, or have  a faux-cheerful conversation with a hairdresser but I think I have enough to be getting on with. 

In other news...

14 Jan 2013

Some Quotes From The Nurses Who Were With Me While I Donated Blood

"That's a very interesting collection of rings. Please don't punch me."

"That's symbolically quite violent. A psychologist would have a field day with you."

"Oh my God. You have really great veins. I wish everyone had blood as good as this."

"I think that when people die, they shouldn't be buried. They should be made into black pudding."

"Right, just squeeze this cotton ball. Pretend it's Robbie Williams's neck."

"The cotton ball became David Bowie, stop squeezing!"

And finally, upon offering me a bag of my own blood: "Sausages?"

13 Jan 2013

If You Wear Jeans, You Are Probably A Feminist

I got into a really ridiculous argument on twitter last night. 
It all kicked off when my friend LE questioned a guy on him making an extremely sexist joke - "What does a woman have in common with a bowling ball? They both get picked up, fingered, and thrown down an alley." Yeah, I know, it makes me wince as well. So he promptly came back with something along the lines of "Nooo, I don't hate women, I just hate feminists." 
Or gosh, if you're particularly religious. How could I not chip in?
I like to think, in our life and times, that all women are feminists. Even if you say "I am not a feminist", you are using rights GIVEN TO YOU BY FEMINISM to express that opinion. In fact, if you identify as a woman, and have ever voted, voiced a personal opinion, worn jeans, rocked out to Kylie, or taken control of your own vagina, YOU ARE A FEMINIST. I have a sinking feeling that the word 'feminism' has become rather unfashionable. Feminism has become a grammatical mine field for 'man hating', and 'big pant wearing'. Let me tell you something; you can wear big pants and be a feminist. You can wear small pants and be a feminist. Your choice of pant does not reflect your political views*. Let me tell you something else; every time I see a teenage girl, in denim hot pants, and one side of her head shaved, saying "Nah, I'm not a feminist, I don't see the point, y'know?" a kitten dies.** Without feminism, you COULD NOT WEAR DENIM HOTPANTS, OR SHAVE YOUR HEAD. 
So, back to Twitter. Around this point some other dude started chipping in, claiming that there was no reason for feminism to carry on existing, and started to wonder if I could stab someone in the eyes, via the internet. Of course there's a reason for feminism to still exist. There are many reasons, in fact. The main reason I gave as an example, being that the majority of reported cases of women being raped are either not taken seriously, or ignored. HOW IS THAT OK!?*** If we're living in a world where rapists are still being permitted to roam free, we're living in a world where we still need feminism. I fully admit that there are many cases of men being raped - it's a horrible crime which affects all aspects of gender, race, religion and social class - which are not fully followed up as well, but contrary to what my twitter friends think, I'm pretty sure there are more cases of women being raped than men. Scrap that, according to the Stern Review, 8% of reported rape victims are male. It also claimed that 99% of convicted rapists are male. Point proven. 
Well, to cut a (very) long story short, the guy who managed to kick the whole debate off later apologized. However, both of them later deleted all of their tweets from the debate. I have no idea what this means, feel free to jump to your own conclusions. I learned to say 'I am a strident feminist' without feeling ashamed, and that if someone resorts to correcting your spelling, they have probably lost the argument.
In the last year, I have developed one test for whether or not feminism is still needed. In recent years, it has become semi socially acceptable for men to talk about their genitals in public, yet it still remains fairly taboo for women to do the same. Thus, we shall need feminism until the day I can stand in the middle of an office, and say the words "yeast infection", without a single person flinching, hiding under their desk, or pelting me with biros. 

*Just as feminism has nothing to do with pants, it also has nothing to do with man-hating. "Feminism is a demand for equal respect between genders, not for superiority of sex" - Me
**I may have made this up.
***I apologize for the amount of capslock I'm using in this post.****
****How many foot notes do you think I can shoehorn into this post?*****
*****Five. The answer is five.

7 Jan 2013

Then I Realized How Rural My Upbringing Has Beem

So I went to Whitby last week, which was nice. Just a couple of days away with Mum and the step father, to clean out the cobwebs before we all went back to functioning in society. We visited the abbey, and the museum, and did a lot of shopping. I bought a cardigan. Yes, it is very nice, thank you. It's red, and has a little embroidered anchor. We did a lot of walking, and nearly stole a dog. I fell down a lot of stairs, and Mum nearly cried at the amount of themed tea shops we visited. 

I also realized how very, very rural my upbringing has been. Where I live, if you need to get something useful, like bread, or toothpaste, you have to plan to go and get these things at least a week in advance, maybe a little less if you can drive. Most people are used to the fact that, half an hour before Boot's shuts, they can just walk there, get what they need, on the spur of the moment, and be home in time for tea, thank you very much. Not me. Oh no, I was baffled by this.  I needed face wipes. Boots would be shut in half an hour. Grabbed the handbag, ran down the road, and was back within about five minutes. I ended up staring at the wall for the entirety of the next day trying to get over the fact that I didn't need to catch a train, or a bus, or cycle anywhere. I'm going to be rubbish when I move out. I'll probably break when I discover Tesco Metro. 

I also fell in a lake, trying to escape from the Abby, then nearly threw up in a church, but that's a very different story.

This Is Why I Loath The Daily Mail

So last week the Daily Mail ran an article on the teen book trend of 'sick-lit'. 'Sick-lit' being books that have some themes of self harm, cancer, depression, and death. Covers quite a wide range, really. 
If I may interrupt for just one second: AAGGHH. Just a little pre-stress scream, before I go and re-read the article. I suggest you do the same. You'll need a good pre-stress scream before you read the article. 
Now, understand that one of my favorite hobbies is going on the Daily Mail's website, and crying over it's own, specialized brand of stupidity, but I think this rather pushed the boat out. It's an almost perfect combination of the Mail's general opinions of 'Clever people are scary' and 'books are for weirdos'. I looked at the comments on this post, expecting a lot of outraged mumsnet goers, crying over their babies, but I was rather pleased with the mob screaming a rather loud "Get a grip."
I first heard of the article in a tweet for Maureen Johnson (@maureenjohnson), a very well respected young adult author, and good friend of John Green (realjohngreen), who's book, The Fault In Out Stars, the Mail seemed to find particular joy in ripping apart, and spoiling. 
The general message of the article is "reading will break your children, due to all these IMMORAL BOOKS ABOUT DEATH THAT ARE NOW VERY FASHIONABLE". Ooh, dear. 
For a start, I'd just like to back up The Fault In Our Stars. It's an incredible book, which, AMAZINGLY, has some themes outside of cancer. Like, y'know, love. And triumph over hardship. Good, nice messages, and proof that sometimes you do have to fight for love, and that life can be hard, but it's worth it in the end. Things that would want my non-existent children to know, to be honest. 
So, yeah, article. "Children's book expert Amanda Craig is among those concerned about these books. She has been sent about 12 teen sick-lit books over the past year, but she feels so strongly she will not review them." Not that I want to judge, but if she won't review them, then I'm not sure she's a very good expert. I've read quite a few of the books mentioned in the article, and they're really not that bad. Apart from Red Tears, which was, if anything, boring. So I apologize if I'm inclined to not trust Ms Craig's opinion. I may trust her more of she  actually had one. 
But then on a rather different scale, there's, "When the Mail approached Penguin, the firm declined to make a statement..." Good. Hopefully with a muttered, "Piss off." 
I'll leave you to take your own stance on the article. Just know that if you agree with it, I cannot be held responsible for my actions.

2 Jan 2013

A Real Grown Up Conversation About Armpit Hair

OK, come on then, sit down. It's time we had a Grown Up Conversation. I try and not talk about gender politics too much, but tough, my blog, I'll write what I damn well like. So. Grown Up Conversation.
OK, one quick funny first. NT and I were looking at the website of a Berlin sex club which Lady Gaga once took Caitlin Moran to. It has an event called 'Filthy Farm'. The description for this event was simply 'FARMER'. This is simultaneously the most and least worrying description on the website. 
So, Conversation. I want to talk about hair. No, not head hair, or vagina hair, before you start going on. You're just putting your own filth in now. No, I want to talk about armpit hair. 
You just flinched, didn't you? Don't deny it, I can tell. 
So, long story short, if you are a woman/girl/lady/drag queen, I do not care if you have pit hair. I do not think it makes you any more or less of a woman. I don't think that it makes you 'masculine', or dirty. I think if someone really cares that much about whether or not you shave your armpits, they really need to reconsider their life choices. 
A lot of people recently have been talking about vagina hair, and the two different parties on the topic seem to be either 'you should shave it, it makes you prettier to men', or 'you don't need to shave, it's a waste of time and makes you look like a twelve year old'. Personally, I'm with the second group. I don't really care if you shave your lady bits or not, and I don't think it's my place to tell you what to do, I just don't see why everyone seems so fussed about it. 
The whole lady shaving thing kicked off with legs, somewhere in the twenties. A company thought  "Hey, the birds are starting to get their pegs out, how can we make a bit of cash off the back of this?" and hence, the leg razor was born. Armpits were the next to fall, and vaginas (vaginae) came quickly after, succumbing to the wishes of the lady razor. It literally is nothing more than a marketing ploy, that somehow managed to crate a social taboo. I remember a while ago, Cosmo ran an article where they dared a journalist to go a month without shaving her pits. She reported that if she raised her arm in a club to summon the bartender, he would flinch. All I have to say to him is grow up. Men do not shave their pits, and no one cares. Why should it be such a social boundary for a woman to occasionally say, "No, not now, I'd rather watch Eastenders than scrape a very sharp piece of metal over my skin at the moment".  
I admit, I do shave my armpits. Of course I do. I go to secondary school. Not shaving my armpits would be like wandering around school with a huge 'kick me' sign on my back. But instead of being stuck to my back, it would be nailed to my forehead, and instead of saying 'kick me', it would say 'please bash my face in with a hammer'.
Two of my biggest role models are Amanda Palmer, and Louise Brealey. Both very talented women, and both massive feminists, and both very, well... feminine. Amanda does not shave her armpits. She appears in nearly all of her music videos half naked, makeup on, and armpits hairy. And she doesn't look disgusting. She just looks strong, and a little bit sexy. Louise Brealey is currently appearing as Helen of Troy, in a play called The Trojan Women. In one scene, she has to appear naked. She wrote an article for The Times, talking about how much it terrified her, to go on stage in front of a hundred people, night after night and drop her towel to the floor. She also wrote that to help herself, she grew out her armpit hair. The feeling that she didn't have to follow the beauty ideals of society made her more confident. 
And this is what I'd like to impart to you, whomever may be reading this. You do not have to have a perfectly round arse to be sexy, and neither do you need to have naked armpits, or stick glitter to your vag. Strength is sexy. Promise. 

1 Jan 2013

Underwear Horoscope for... Um... Normal Women

So a while ago, Jenna Marbles, who I love and respect very much, posted this video on YouTube, where she gave horoscopes based on what knickers you were wearing on a day-to-day basis. And OK, fair enough, she probably has a point, but only if anyone is actually going to be looking inside your jeans. As someone who's jean content remains largely unknown to the majority of the world, I may have tweaked some of these...

  • Cotton briefs. Today, you and your vagina will work as one. You will be so damn comfy, it is unreal. You'll get a lot of stuff done today that you've been putting off for a while, and you'll start reading that book you had your eye on, which will turn out to be really funny.
  • Lady boxers. Otherwise known as boy shorts. At some point this afternoon you will find yourself in your pants and a shirt, lip-syncing to BeyoncĂ©, into a hairbrush.
  • Underwear from a pack. Today, you will be very comfy, and probably take a mid afternoon nap. Someone will question your choice of pant, but unless it's someone who you're about to have spur of the moment sex with, in a very brightly lit room, it doesn't really matter.
  • Knickers with writing on the back. On the off chance that someone actually reads this writing, they will not notice how excellent your ass is, because they will be distracted by the slogans. This marks a down point in your life. You are probably trying to regain your youth. Stop it. You had really bad bangs back then.
  • See through knickers. You will smirk knowingly to yourself while buying coffee, then wink at that hot barista who works here on Tuesday afternoons. Your coffee will be a bit cheaper than normal. Well done. Later you will drop a magazine in Coop, but luckily, no one will be watching.
  • Thong. Your ass will have the aesthetic equivalent of a glittery rainbow unicorn covered in cake. However, you will need to do a strange little shimmy every time some string goes somewhere it shouldn't. 
  • Lace. Today, you will not put on any other clothes. Instead, you will stay at home, lie on a sofa, and look very attractive. Your legs will look good enough to inspire an impromptu visit to a night club, where you will make out with someone, then do a very small sick in the taxi home.
  • Shape wear pants. While your entire body will look amazing, you won't be able to sit down/bend over/raise your arms above 90 degrees/do Gangnam Style. Best just sand in the corner drinking a lot of wine and talking about George Osborne. 
  • Matching bra and knickers. You will achieve superpowers for (1) day.