All posts by vgirl80

About vgirl80

Hi there and thank you for taking the time to read my profile - I am a geeky, glitter goff who loves colour, makeup, leggings and wigs. I have a complicated relationship with my cat and adore memes. My blogs are pretty much an indication as to what is going on in my head - I am sorry, this isn't the place to come for consistency. I will do reviews where warranted, I will discuss mental health, have the odd feminist rant and some some research type blogs. Please note that any opinions stated in this blog - unless explicity stated - are my own.

How to Con a Queen

So in my last post i kind just walked through my first MCM comicon experience. I know it was long, and I appreciate people taking the time to read it. But also, if you didn’t? I completely understand.

So basically in my last post, i mentioned the length of time that we were waiting to see ‘the talent’ and honestly, calling them that feels …. odd. I mean, it really just turns them into objects?

How many times have we read that someone is difficult or awkward in an interview, that it felt that they were not bothered, interested, invested. That we hear about how they are doing ‘press’ surrounding a movie release, that they are doing appearences, that this is part of the package?

Well I never really thought about it before, not really. It isn’t that I hadn’t met famous people before. While living in London, I frequently brushed shoulders with ‘famous’ people, from TV, or film. But because of the situation… they were off duty, its the UK, you kinda just let them be? There are a couple of notable exceptions, but generally speaking I find it easier to pretend to be above all of this instead of acting like the flailing fangirl that I really am.

mde

Now what I have become more and more bothered by, over the course of meeting 3 celebrities in such a way, is that they cease being people. They cease having their own life outside providing a service. I PAID TO SEE THESE PEOPLE DAMNIT. .. i sat on the train home, having spent all day on my feet, thinking about how much I ached.. and then it hit me. The celebrities (or talent as people kept referring to them as, but I find weird…) had been on their feet for the same length of time.

When I was waiting for Jason, I was in batch 23, they have opened up over 30 batched. The demand was certainly there…. while we had been asked to stand against the wall by his security (I get it, honestly I do) I looked over at the photographer. She was waving one hand around, and looking unhappy. I mean… how many photos had she taken by this point. It is just a production line. There was little or no personality. All the people involved, they just had to make sure that we all go what we wanted. A photo with someone we loved, admired, lusted after? But there was no break for them.

So as much as I was complaining about how much I ached and hurt, how annoyed I was at standing so long, all the people in the booth, taking photos, hearding, securing, hell Jason himself, they had all done it for as long. But he had a big grin on his face, he was generous, hell he gave my boobs a thumbs up (I will actually scan the photo on the make it clearer). Now I know that this is all down to good customer service, and they are all there providing a service, and that there was a lot of money made.

mde
mde

But this is still bothering me a great deal. We are all used to consuming what we want, we want our celebrities to be accessible, to be relatible, to be viable. We want to be able to follow, to see, to be able to use our knowledge and experience of them to make informed decisions. We base our choice of movie, of entertainment, hell we even base medical decisions like whether to vaccinate our children based on celebrity culture.

We sit on SC, IG, Twitter, we consume everything, we want to have what they have, we buy what they tell us to buy, we want to look like them, live like them, we mimic their diets, their fashions. We have almost forgotten that these are people, just like us. Lets not layer this up. They are like us. Their jobs may be different, and we really won’t understand their lives looking in. They do live in a glass house. There are held accountable for everything that they say and do.

Speaking of which, I adore Jason Mamoa, I really do. I won’t lie, he is very attractive, he is physically my type. Along with 80% of the population. But there is more to it, he comes accross as just… so nice, he has just a life force, he is passionate, he appears to be fun to be around. Right? These are all qualities that we manage to pick up from various appearances, interviews, videos. But a couple of years ago, at a panel, he made a comment about his time in GoT which I think we are all aware of. I am not going to condemn or defend the comment. He is one of many who have been caught up in an age where things are shared instantly.

mde
mde

We do not own these people, we do not ‘pay their wages’, a phrase anyone working in customer services will have heard numerous times. I am incredibly grateful that I had an opportunity to meet these people, all three are very special to me, for different reasons. I am happy that they exist, that they have made a difference. And that I have something to remind me of the time i got to meet them.

But they own me nothing, not at all. I don’t have a hold over them, I don’t even want to know how much money even goes to them at these appearances. But you know, it has given me a much better respect for the hard work they do, that they sign up to do, are contracted to do, that they are expected to do.

I honestly can’t say if I will ever do another photoshoot at a convention, whether I will buy an autograph. Getting to meet someone you admire is always scary and exhilarating. But we all need to remember, that they are giving their time to do this, and it is not easy. Just a little sense of prospective.

Queen at a Con

So on Saturday, 27th July I finally made it to MCM London Comicon. I have only been to local ones previously and honestly my anxiety was making even the idea of such a big event impossible.

However, I had a lovely FB friend who invited me along and we even cosplayed together! This is not to say that i wasn’t utterly terrified about everything, meeting new people, the sheer amount of people there, the cost, let alone the cosplay.

Now i am no stranger to cosplay, but there is a big difference between taking photos and sharing them (albeit publicly) and having to worry about everything looks and how it will last.

So lets go back to the costume, I had a dress which i had bought last year, for a cosplay. Now I am fairly sure it was always destined for a Cersei cosplay but you never know with me. Now, as it stood, it was plain and a little frumpy. I sat down and tried to see what I could do to it, how it could start to look like something she would wear, while staying within my ability. Also please note, I am bloody lazy.

I had a few ideas, bought a few bits but shipping was taking too long, so i had to come up with some new ideas… and eventually it all started coming together and took shape. Now the final bit was sewing into the panel at the front of the dress.. but more on that later.

Because, as I have mentioned, I am lazy, I also procrastinate and I was still working on the dress a couple of days before the con, and the wig… well it was a little hot this week and i can tell you, doing wig restyles in a bathroom in the heat… it leads to a very melty face and a tiny bit of frustration. For this reason, I really didn’t do a dress rehearsal before putting it all on, on Saturday morning.

And now. Now we are on the day of the con, because of the weather, I had planned to wear a maxi dress and get changed at the con, get changed and changed again when I was on my way home. But of course when Saturday rolled around, I was met with a lot of rain. Instead I got on a train in my outfit sans the wig. At the station, I had a member of staff ask what was going on in london as a lot of people had already left for London dressed in costume.

Now, the train, the train was on time (unlike the 2 trains that were running vert late) and not all that busy, and journey was quick. I got a message to say my friend was meeting me at Victoria so it was a shot couple of stops from Euston. So far, so good. Although while chilling at the station, she called to say that there was a burst water main and delayed. Added was trying to find somewhere to park… but we figured it out, headed toward the Olympia and …. tried to find a space to leave the van.

And so we join the queue to get in, which moves quickly, and enter the con. Already there are a lot of people standing around and so many amazing costumes, but in a panic over when the photoshoots would be taking place I ran off upstairs to find out who was when.

Now I finally manage to locate the list of when, and where people are having shoots, and spend far, far too long looking for my first, with Sylvester McCoy. I finally find him, and try and work out when his shoot would be taking place. A guy I am standing with, leaves his son with me and goes to find out. We get told that we are early, come back in 45 mins. Fine, no problem.

I go for a walk around. get stopped by a gentleman with a camera asking for a photo (quick possibly by best.. ) and get offered a chip. I head downstairs to see what is going on. As I walk past a group I hear ‘is that supposed to be a slutty Cersei?’ and move along. Now the reason they are asking is that my thighs are viable when walking. This was not intentional, but a symptom of my leaving things to the last minute and not realising that the waist of the dress sits higher and therefore I needed to pin the panel in further down.

Now a few seconds after the above comment, while i am debating how annoying my dress is going to be, I get chased down by a Daenrys who asked for a photo. Now she was gorgeous, and cute and we had fun taking photos. While we were having a play, a few people snapped photos and suddenly we had a Arya running toward us. Who I proceeded to strangle. Luckily I managed to control myself long enough to rope her friend into taking photos and we eventually made our own way. I went back upstairs, and there was a massive queue still waiting for Sylvester, as there was yet another photoshoot going on and over running. Eventually I got in the queue, and got talking to a few of the guys who agreed that McCoy is pretty damned amazing.

Now I had no idea what would happen, basically we are called in, still in a queue, and got to briefly speak before a photo is taken and printed out. I was super excited by the photo and that I had managed to meet one of my childhood heros (true story, while I don’t watch Dr Who now, I loved it growing up and McCoy was most certainly my doctor. although I was most certainly expecting someone taller!).

After McCoy, I had to shoot over to the other side to the venue, difficult given the sheer amount of people and having no bloody idea where I was going. Eventually I was somewhat sure that I had the right place, and asked a girl if I was in the right place. I was – but I was batch 9. Luckily so was she, and we got chatting. It really is great to meet people who understand your desire to dress up, and fan girling etc. Her SO was having to keep half an ear out for her on another photo shoot. You see, you couldn’t pick a time for these things, they are batched out. So you might end up having 2 at the same time and have to make a mad dash. Another issue, is with so many people, it was hot, sweaty, uncomfortable, and it was gone 14:00 and I had been on my feet since 9:30am. We also couldn’t hear what batch had been called, it got to batch number 8 and we joined, knowing that we were in the next batch. Well our batch didn’t get called which just shows how much stress and confusion was involved.

Now, Christina Ricci might seem odd, I mean I don’t often mention her, or suggest I have a deep love for her. But its Christina FUCKING Ricci. As we got closer, we started getting excited. She was so gorgeous and doll light up close, and I … I may have told her that she was beautiful. As I grabbed our bags while waiting for the photos…. we hand flapped our excitement at having met Christina Ricci. We were feet away from her, and I honestly would be surprised if she hadn’t noticed.

Now, at this point, I have a break, I went to find the toilets, find one set with men and disabled. While waiting, a disabled person joined and I couldn’t wait longer so I ran off to find an alternative. Heading over, I ran into my friends hubby waiting for her – I ran in, found her and we decide to have a little walk around while I waited for my final photoshoot of the day. This was pretty much the only time I spent with her – how awful?

At 16:00 I trotted upstairs and attempted to find the right booth for Jason Mamoa, basically I kept going around in circles, until I came accross a Mamoa lookalike asking for… well Jason. He was being told that we were in the wrong place and the steward went off in search of answers. However, a couple of people in front of us turned around and told us were in the right place. Apparently another photoshoot had overrun so Jason was moved at the last minute. I get chatting to a couple of people and suddenly I was aware of something behind me… that something turned out to be Jason Mamoa, which led to a lot of cheering, clapping, and chanting. It really was quite something. Now, during this time, a lot of people were coming and going, asking where we were. Another steward escaped the scrum and for reasons that now escape me, we collared him. He mentioned not having had a bio break since 7:30am so we suggested he gets on. He was collared by a deaf couple looking for another photo op (basically the one that had moved since Jason had taken up residence) and it was causing a deal of frustration.

Now at this point, the crowd had gotten worse, more people turning up and melting away when they realised exactly how long a wait they would have. We started getting concerned that we wouldn’t be able to hear the batch being called. This had been an issue for me earlier, and clearly others. Well, nothing to worry about, we had a Scottish steward who happily stood on a stool and bellowed. He got standing ovations for his services to geeks. And caused backlash from our escapee steward working accross the room.

As I stood, and stood, and stood some more, a couple of friends that I had made, while standing, and were in the same batch had agreed that there was really no point in moving forward until our batch was called. I am not going to lie, I nearly expired waiting, it felt like there was no air conditioning, and between the outfit, wig, and amount of people… my mood was really heading south. We then had a guy trying to make small talk, and when his batch got called, stating ‘well, you should have bought a ticket earlier’ .. riiiight. It was at this point that I gave up entirely and sat down. I was joined by one of the people who peeled off earlier on realising that they had a long wait. My friend, who I had all but abandoned for photo opportunites, needed to go, and was trying to find me which as I have pointed out, I had no idea exactly where I was. And amongst all of this, my new friends looked over when our batch was called. I said good bye to my new friend, left her on the floor and ran to join my friends while basically also cutting in.

Now, the queue moved pretty quickly, I was surprised by the number of people bringing babies to meet Jason because it wasn’t really an environment i would personally have bought such young children. As we got our ticket scanned, we nervously waited, but got told that we had to wait with our back against the wall by Jason’s security detail. Now we joked about Jason not wanting to see what was coming… on reflection, it is more likely a safety precaution. My friends went ahead of my, and the female half was extremely tall. As she had her photo taken as I was called forward Jason joked with her, and they realised that they are the same height. That is pretty impressive (side bar, Peppa Pig is apparently 7ft tall?). I completely lose my cool, realise I am sweating buckets, don’t get a chance to really pose and it is over before I realise.

So now, I have lost my friends, I have my photos, I am leaving the con… I am wondering if there is any chance I can make my train…. I decide a taxi as I hadn’t really spent any money…. could I find a taxi? Nope. No problem I think… I can hop on a tube….. the district line… being the district line… was FUBAR. After waiting for what seems FOREVER, it moved.. but not far. After 2 stops it was the end of the line, so I switch to the circle line, and finally get a seat (been on my feet since landing in london at 9:30) and … well of course this is stopping early. I get off at Paddington and head out for a taxi. Clearly, nothing is easy, so I end up walking against traffic to flag one down.

As I near Euston, I mention my travel woes, the driver quipped, ‘ there was me thinking you liked taxis’ … dude where were you outside the venue.

Now, I get into the station, and of course. More delays, apparently nationally. So I start walking to pick some food or drink up. As I had only had breakfast and a cola during the day. I am on the phone when I start listing trains off… and … and there is one leaving imminently . I start heading down to the platform… I feel it is a good time to mention that I don’t even run my tights. I made it, just… and collapse in a seat near the toilets. In a world of my own but a little people watching, I settle into the relatively short journey home, letting Pete know that I have made it onto a train, albeit an hour late. Now the toilets on the train are quirky with a rounded sliding door. A couple are sitting opposite. As the journey leaves MK, a girl uses the toilet, she sits next to me, and she is closely followed by a guy. On exit he announces ‘And tonight Matthew….’ which just shows how ingrained some things are in a national psyche. This ended up turning into a rambling conversation involving his friend who had then used the facilities, leaving Trip Advisor reviews for the toilet and how no-one is ‘from’ Northampton and having abandoned one of their friends in MK. Which I have to be honest, is standard on this journey. Every time I make the trip, random conversations erupt around me.

I am going to end it here for now, it really got away from me, but I wanted to get it all down while it was relatively fresh in my brain. As always the time between writing and publishing is … yep!

Climate of change

I keep meaning to write a blog relating to my fitness journey – I mean honestly I just keep meaning to write anything at all. So this is going to be a little bit of an odd approach but please bear with me…

I was walking to work, thinking about how I am trying to be as waste free as possible, and this led me to thinking, wouldn’t be awesome if places like Lush gave you the opportunity to refill instead of having to buy another bottle, jar, pot. Specifically I was thinking about their face masks.

Now, this led me to think about how things have changed, exercises was where this thought led. These days, going to the gym is normal. How many people do you know that don’t have some sort of fitness schedule, either classes, or the gym, maybe its cycling, running. We have all realised that with our lifestyle changes, and the ease of access to quick fix food.. we need to look after our bodies. Indeed, my mother would probably be the first to point out that it is better to do this as a preventative measure.

So … this brings be around to the title. You are getting 2 for the price of one with this – climate change. We have been blissfully, or willfully ignoring what is painfully obvious. Plastic is everywhere, and it is killing the planet. In Germany, for as long as I remember, recycling is standard, taking back bottles, normal, reusing bags…. you get me? But we are all so immune to what happens to the plastic we throw away. We are all so blind to the fact that it isn’t somleone elses problem, that having 2 bins instead of one is not actually such an issue.

The plain fact is that we have gotten so used to everything being ..easy. The point for me that I realise the level of reliance on convince is when StarBucks opened a drive through locally. Now, don’t get me wrong, I love to spend time in a cafe, chatting with a friend and enjoying cake. But StarBucks (and all the other coffee shops it seemingly spawned) created the take away coffee in a way that was previously unseen.

Now I am not ANTI starbucks as such, I even spend money in their cafe’s – now i am not sure if it is because I don’t drink coffee, but a lot of the attraction is lost on me. I mean, surely you can wait to get to your destination to have a coffee if you aren’t going to stick around? But also, think about the amount of waste this generates. This alone, I mean if we are going after straws… take away coffee with it has so many elements, the cup, the lip, the stirrer, and i could go on. But does any of this get recycled? Because if you are on the go, and so desperate for a coffee fix, are you going to be able to dispose of it properly or are you going to dump it in the nearest bin?

There are so many elements to recycling, why we need to do more, but it feels as if we are doing less, but lets stay with fast food – not long ago, we would bring in lunch and maybe have a treat on a Friday and go get something locally. Now, it is normal to pick someone on our way in, say a coffee. At lunch, go to SubWay, Greggs etc and for our way home? Why not pick up pizza or a burger. This is not only extremely wasteful but how much more additional packaging is needed? Even if you go pick up lunch in a store, a prepacked sandwich, a drink, it is all packaging that isn’t needed. And let us now forget how expensive this is.

Honestly like most things, exercise, recycling, climate change, cutting meat, it isn’t about a grand gesture that seems difficult, insurmountable, and your brain breaks figuring out where to begin. It is about small gestures, don’t have that coffee, use a paper or metal straw, cut down meat to a day or 2 a week, try getting off the bus stop early, try working out with a friend. I am not preaching, it is merely personal experience. So many people come accross as … all or nothing. A gym instructor at a previous gym once told me that if i wasn’t in the gym at least 4 times a week, why bother. If you are not completely over hauling your diet, why bother, if you are not sorting and washing every recyclable… why bother. Well the answer is that, collectively small changes amount to big changes and if everyone made a couple of adjustments it would really make a difference.

Pretty, fat

So I am basing this on the above image. This image is an argument that i have been having over the years, both directly and indirectly.

You see, the comeback to announcing that you are fat is ‘..but your pretty..’ Not every time, and maybe the wording is slightly different, but the intention is the same. I know some of you will not use the word fat as it is not fair to label people. And honestly, I commend your postive action. I am not merely a fat girl. I am more that what I present to the world or rather the first impression that I leave. However, please don’t stop me from using it. If I am using it to describe myself – it is what i need to do.

You see, as per the other posts, being told that you are not fat, you are perfectly fine, you have nothing to worry about. These are damaging things to say to a person. What you see in the mirror is completely different to what others see. I might think that I am not too fat, but I then stand next to a slender friend and what can I say? I am fat.

I am going to keep using the word. Fat. It is important and empowering. By using the word, I am giving it meaning, and strength but I am also owning it. I am fat and I am the only person who can do something about it.

Telling someone that they are pretty when they are discussing their weight, shape or dress size is extremely unhelpful. Have they asked about how they look, have they dropped a hint about wanting a compliment? Or are they just having a moment of clarity or honesty. Are they explaining why they don’t want to have a slice of cake, or that they won’t be joining drinks after work, or why they have switched to a packed lunch.

If someone is making changes, by all means take an interest but make sure that you don’t make a big deal about it. If someone is trying to make a change, having a spotlight shone can be damaging and their motivation or willpower can evaporate. Swinging words around like diet, likewise can be unhelpful. Don’t start wading in with some magic pill that worked for you, because it worked for you. It may not work for someone else. And be aware of why someone is making lifestyle choices. Often we are given ‘quick fixes’ we are told how to drop a dress size, or lose a couple of stubborn pounds.

What is most helpful, is being honest. Not to the point of rudeness. Don’t start expressing that a person shouldn’t be having that snack, or wearing that dress, or asking how much they have lost. If someone says they are fat, let them use the word. Lets not sugar coat it. It is a word, and an explanation. I personally, am carrying too much fat on my body. Until this has been resolved, I am fat.

To summarize, I am fat, I am pretty. These are not mutually exclusive terms. It would be better if we could all learn to separate the two.

The V word…

Vagina, vixen, vaccination, vinyl….. I won’t go on.

What i would like to talk about Vegan products. Disclaimer: I am not vegan.

I have a number of vegan friends, and the reason for their diet is varied, it can be down to health, going ‘free from’, not liking meat, animal rights and everything inbetween.

Now this isn’t the first time that I have spoken about being Vegan – and i was of a mind to write this in January when we were all having the benefits of joining in on Veganuary but you know, life happens!

One of the things that I came accross and that seems to garner a lot of backlash, is Holland & Barrett’s Veganuary campaign. The idea was that you could be a vegan part time. Either you chose to go down the cruelty free makeup route (there is a difference between vegan and cruelty free) or you are vegan only when you are at home. There were a lot of other examples, like I said, an entire advertising campaign was designed around this idea that you could be ‘Vegan: your way’. This seemed especially abhorrent to be people, on both sides of the fence.

Now there is an argument, for example, people not using a brand (Urban Decay, Body Shop) because they are owned by a company that isn’t vegan or still uses animal testing. But this argument for me, fails. SImply because these same people are still shopping in supermarkets that sell animal products, buying a latte in a coffee shop that serves 90% of their hot drinks with cows milk.

Like my previous blog, I would say that buying vegan/cruelty free products no matter where, sends a clear message to companies that this is something to invest in. Now like I have said, I am not vegan, but try my best to buy vegan as and where I can (to the point i rope the fiance into it by making him vegan meals). I don’t like meat, I don’t like the smell, texture, flavour. So for the longest time, I couldn’t understand why people would eat ‘fake meat’. I mean if you won’t want to eat meat, why would you want to eat something that reminds you of meat.

Well it is pretty simple. The meat industry is failing, the amount of stock needed to break even, let alone make a profit makes the farm a bad business model. We don’t have the space either, and with leaving the EU soon, farmers will be losing the EU subsidies that they have become reliant on. That is just the UK. Globally the population continues to rise, and we aren’t able to produce enough food.

So yes, the idea would be that we all become vegan, it would be great if we could help our planet, our selves, stem global warming, and be kinder. But lets be realistic, as anyone who had attempted to diet will tell you, the moment your restrict access to a certain food; the more you want it.

So what do we do? Well we start looking at alternatives, we start looking at like for like swaps, so that people won’t miss the animal by products. And you know what, I am all for it – I am here for the vegan cheese, the vegan pain au chocolate, for the vegan burgers. And I would honestly encourage you to try some. Even if you just do it for one meal. Pop into a super market ( I personally recommend M&S and their fab range) and grab a vegan meal. Sit down with friends or family (both) and see how you enjoy it. Because trust me, you will.

And every item sold, encourages the company to make more, try more, invest more. Which can only be a good thing.

No excuses

Now, ladies, let us get serious Smear tests. They are embarressing, awkward, and in some cases, painful.

I had my first one at 20, I remember the letter arriving on my door step, some sort of ‘coming of age’ – Congratulations, your officially a grown woman! And off I trotted to the G.P surgery to have my first experience of how utterly humiliating it can be to be a woman. 

You see, I was not longer living at home, and certainly have no female friends to discuss this with, so I went in blind. There were stirrups, and a metal contraption that was wound open once inserted, and then the swab? YEOWCH!

wh4

So I have have had more than a few of these, pretty much every one has been uncomfortable to a degree, and after being repeatedly told I have a small cervix, asked about bleeding after sex, and having anomalies with each result… it is just not something I look forward to. But it is something I still eventually get around to doing, because a moment or 2 of being uncomfortable is a pretty small price to pay. And let’s face it, we are all going to go through it! 

I remember vividly Jade Goody, both her rise to fame, and then how important she suddenly became. If you don’t remember, Jade was a pseudo celebrity, but her legacy is discovering she had cervical cancer and she died after a tragically short battle with it. Whilst battling cancer, she campaigned asking people to get their smear test, explaining how important it was, not to leave it, to leave it too late. And following her death, there was a spike in attendance. 

wh6

However, somewhere between my first test and Jade’s death, the age for your smear test was raised to 25. That may seem like a small jump but it is significant. Getting girls, and women to start this routine early is as important as detecting and catching cancer is. It then becomes habit forming, another check on the to-do list of womanhood. While I understand that there is some medical backing suggesting that waiting until 25 makes some sense, I suspect that this is financially motivated as despite some people’s assumption, the NHS is a business and each letter, each appointment, each test, costs the individual trust money. 

Now, speaking of money, where do you get your smear test? It is important to be comfortable with the person and environment. I have switched between GP and Family planning. As I mentioned early, smear tests have never been especially comfortable for me, and especially after moving to Northampton, I tried to do all my family planning, at the family planning clinic. I liked and knew the doctors and nurses there and felt much more comfortable. However, funding changed and now I can only go to my GP to have the test. 

wm2

So when I called a couple of weeks, imagine my surprise to learn that not only can I only go to my GP to have the smear test, there is only one nurse covering 2 GP practises. Now I am not going to lie, this is not making it any easier! 

Now, something that prompted my booking of the test is a post in a FB group that I haunt called Queens of the New Age. There was a status about having a smear test and having glittered the lady garden. I love a challenge so I made sure I had styled my downstairs with some glitter for me appointment and used some Snow Fairy powder to try and keep things fresh.

wh7

Things have moved on since my first smear, should I have led with this? Possibly but I don’t like to do things in a sensible order. You will be shown into an examination room by the nurse, asked a couple of questions, and asked to undress – waist down, lie on the couch and place the paper towel over yourself for modesty. A plastic speculum is inserted to allow the nurse to use a ‘brush’ to get a sample of cells. That is is. Now I managed to chat throughout with the nurse, and we joked about the glitter and lack of shaving (an over sight) and it was over in seconds. I have never had such a quick test, and it was completely painless. 

What I am saying is that, most people will have completely painfree and painless experiences. You will be seen by a nurse who has seen it all before, probably several times that day before your appointment so you will not be presenting herself with anything new. But I cannot say this enough, please, even though the starting age is 25, do not forget, forego or not book an appointment. It is not even 20 mins of your life every few years that could quite literally, save your life. 

wh3

Boys, girls, sex

This morning I watched a man break down toward the end of an interview about having ‘come out’ as being sexually abused as a young footballer. He was asked if he had felt that it was safer now, for children going into football. No, he felt it wasn’t any safer. And is it surprising when you look at the figures?

5

In the last year, 748 victims have stepped forward, and 285 people coaches, and otherwise connected with football, have been named. That is a lot of people. This spans decades, the majority of cases from 70/80 and 90’s but there are earlier. And I imagine that there will be more recent.

So is it surprising that Andy suggested that little, if anything had changed? Not only does change take time, statements are still being taken. When you look at those involved, we are looking at people who have since passed and you can’t ask a dead man to give evidence or stand accountable for their actions. And on the other side, we have victims who are older, are parents, potentially even grandparents who have moved on with their lives and don’t want to drag up things from the past.

I admire the strength it has taken this man, to stand up in a very macho environment and call out abuse. He has risked everything in doing so, he has bought a spotlight onto his life, his family, and meant that the last 30+ of his existence has been pulled apart by the media. He has been questioned, risked ridicule, abuse, loss of friendship and breakdowns in his family.

6

This is the same old story, one we see played out again and again. Money and power, people are afraid to said something because the people involved are powerful and often, good at their jobs. This can lead to collusion and a witch hunt again the accuser to ensure they are not a believable source. And on top of this we have to remember how slow these things are to move. Is it worth the years of going through questioning, courts, giving evidence and having it all dragged up repeatedly, have to relive stuff that you have spent so long trying to forget, trying to bury, trying not to effect your everyday life.

Now, this bothers me on several levels but as you know, I have a keep interest in banishing mental health stigma, especially among men. And this is what concerns me. This is a footballer, and call them what you like, it is a male institution and concern. 

2

I started writing this post in 2017. So really I should be trashing it, starting over, rethinking. This blog was initially written in the pre #metoo world. Now you might think, considering some of the things that i have written about, that I would not really concern myself with things being pre or post such a movement. That it was a long time coming, that eyes should have been open to this a long time ago. 

However, one of the big names to have come out of this is Amanda Heard. We all remember the images of her bruised face, of her harrowing tales of life with Johnny Depp. How the papers salaciously rooted around in their life together, that he didn’t have any money. That one of the reasons that he didn’t have any money is because he was spending an obscene amount on wine. Which in a round about way, was explaining his behavior. 

So what relevance does this have? We have spent at least a year of reports about Johnny Depp losing the plot. that he is putting on weight, he looks haggard, what has happened, how the mighty have fallen. And fall he did – work dried up, and the fact he wasn’t sacked from the Harry Potter films was questioned with some enthusiasm. 

Meanwhile, Amanda has gone from strength to strength, going from a relatively unknown actress, to the sweetheart of Hollywood, a survivor of domestic abuse, the perfect spokes person. 

Well, a couple of weeks ago, there was a whisper that Johnny Depp had filed a defamation claim against Amanda. I searched and couldn’t find anything. Nearly a week went by before I found a couple of articles. The basis of Johnny Depps claim is that Amanda had gone ahead and written an article regarding being in an abusive relationship. This went against the agreement on their previous court case, and subsequent divorce, which was one of none disclosure. 

1

Now what this also includes is proof, ranging from impartial witnesses through to surveillance videos that it was Amanda who was the violent partner.

You may be wondering what all this has to do with the beginnings of this article,  but this is it. Men do not get believed. There has been extreme silence on Johnny Depp and his court case. On the possibility that he was not him, but his partner, his wife, a woman, who was the aggressor. There have been a lot of sympathetic articles, pointing out that he was doing his best to protect her. That he allowed it all to play out – in front of the world, took it, and lived with the consequences. Right up until she decided to continue following the settlement. But there have been as many articles questioning why he waiting, why not make a big deal. Why not call her out. 

But mostly, everything is quiet, is there a degree of embarrassment about everyone having turned their back on him. Not believing him, throwing him away. 

And that really is what it is to me, men do not come forward because like Terry Crews who was asked why he didn’t stand up to sexual aggression, there is an unbalance of power. 

Women often are not able to fend off, be it due to physical circumstances, maybe it is down to financial, or any number of reasons, but a man? Who would believe them? They will have their entire being questioned. What man isn’t able to fend an assault off, what man allows themselves to find themselves in that situation, that isn’t able to get out of it, what man allows themselves to be emasculated. 

Say hallo to toxic masculinity. 

4

 

Pinning the tail on the

Victim.

Victim blaming. I am sure you are all aware of what it is, and indeed have done it yourself before now. 

Today, this morning, I woke up to a friend commenting about something that had happened while shopping, Not once, it had happened before when she was with her son, and again which prompted her post. She was followed, cat called, questioned by a group of men while shopping. Now this is bad enough, but what made it worse that in her explanation she said she would speak to the store to see if it had happened previously, because she didn’t want to over react. 

rape2

And I came accross a story from a b-list celebrity (I couldn’t place her so I wouldn’t expect you to) who had been attacked on a night out. She had gotten talking to a guy while waiting for her taxi and suggested he share a taxi with her friend. He proceeded to try to sexually assault her friend and then after the driver had pulled over, attack them both. But she said, of course she shouldn’t have talked to him or invited him to share the taxi.

These are just 2 stories fresh today, but I hear them every day, I hear friends tell me something, first, second or third hand, we see it on the news, again directly or indirectly.

rape6 

Victim blaming can be external or internal – victims, try and reason what happened. Where they not careful enough, pay enough attention, do something to provoke it. External? Well why not look at any rape case, the victim is raked over – what where they wearing, where were they, what time of day was it, had they been drinking, were they alone, had they led the victim on.

But it has to stop, we can’t keep accepting something is a certain way, that ‘boys will be boys’, that if we talk to a man, it means we had led them on, that we can’t drink because that means we gave off the wrong signals, that we can’t be alone because that opens us up to attack. 

rape3

See the problem here? The ONLY cause of rape is rapists. There is nothing else to be said. Most rapes occur between people who know each other, even in passing. It happens a lot in marriages and in families, between friends. A stranger raping someone is not uncommon but it is often part of a larger attack.

So knowing this, why when someone happen, is the natural reaction to victim blame. Why is is easier, normal, natural to suggest that someone has been stalked home, around a store, accosted, because … they are too pretty? Because they smiled at a stranger instead of scowling? Because they dared go out without a proper escort? I feel like I am writing about something that happened 100 years ago, that women where not expected to go out alone. But I am talking about things that happen every day. 

rape5

Victims are not to blame VICTIMS did NOTHING wrong – whether you are Kim Kardashian getting robbed in a hotel suite, or a single mother trying to do some grocery shopping. Someone should not feel that they have to keep quiet over a legitimate concern because of how it might be perceived, worrying and checking it from each angle to see if it was something they caused or initiated. 

If we can all realise that victims are not at fault, and look at things critically instead of trying to reason it out. That would make both reporting and prosecuting so much easier. I realise I am leaning heavily on rape/sexual assault in tone, but that is pretty much the concern for most people in this situation and it is one of the most under reported crimes. 

We need to change the way we look at it, and change the conversation.

rape1

Unisex toilets

Are actually a thing! Did you know? Really? Because they have been around for quite a while. So really what does this accomplish? No more or less than the rest of this series, #fakenews.

If a woman walks in to a bathroom, it is no different from a man walking into a bathroom. It is innocent. Most of the time. The difference is nothing to do with gender, it is to do with intent. Genuine mistakes do happen, and everyone is understanding of them.

The reason that this is being talked about again is because of laws being debated, passed, revoked in America. There are a lot of people that believe that homosexuality is wrong, that trans, gender fluidity anything that isn’t cis-normative is some sort of conspiracy, lies, a millennial joke. Because of this background, there is now a growing argument for people having to use the toilets of their ‘birth gender’ under the idea that is makes people safer. Whom exactly? Because doing this puts a lot of people in danger. If someone is living as say, female. For all intents, and purposes, is female, why on earth should they be forced to go into the male toilets. And doesn’t that put them in as much danger, as when a man is in the female toilets? Isn’t that the argument that is used? That sexual predictors will use these situations to prey on women.

And what age does the separation start? When you are a parent, what age is it safe, or appreciate to ask your child to go into a bathroom by themselves? Is there a cut off for this? And are we not at all concerned about children going into bathrooms by themselves.

But to go back to the cover image of this post. Unisex bathrooms. In America Pence seems to be rather incensed by the very idea of a unisex bathroom. But definition every bathroom, not explicitly gendered, is unisex. STOP PRESS your home bathroom….. is UNISEX. And single cubicle is unisex. The issue it appears, is that is is somehow on the LGBTQ+ agenda to make public bathrooms a den of iniquity, a place for sexual debauchery.

This is because anything that is not cis-normative is obviously depraved, it is full of perverts, it will cause the downfall of society. The retelling of Sodom and Gomorrah, but instead of it being just 2 cities, instead it is a world wide epidemic. I may be being every so melodramatic but this is basically how i am trying to understand what the big issue is with unisex toilets.

Sidebar for a little history lesson – I am not going to go  full verse here – basically a deal was made with God that if a few good men could be found in Sodom, the town would be spared. So emissaries were dispatched. And this happened : Then all the men of the city surrounded Lot’s house and said, “Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us so that we can have sex with them.” (Genesis 19:5, NIV) Lot was so infected by the wickedness of Sodom that he offered the homosexuals his two virgin daughters instead.

I mean you can see the obvious issues with this reading, and I am not sure how much if down to the numerous translations and agenda of those carrying out or requesting the translation. And sodomy means ‘crimes against nature’ which is a much bigger melting pot of understanding than we usual understand it to mean.

So are men understood to be perverts when they go into a ladies toilet? Nope, not generally. The argument is actually double edged, because people using this arguement about double standards are the same people who will be asking for people to use bathrooms based on their birth gender. Women do not, and I cannot stress this enough, do not choose to use a male bathroom UNLESS there is no other way. There is always a massive queue for the ladies, on top of the fact that we have to fight layers just to releive ourselves, there will be numerous other things that we are doing in that cubicle, that require a little privacy, if we are taking babies or children in with us, that is another issue. So we end up causing a hold up. So if you really, really need to pee, yes we go into the gents. We have probably all done it. But omg the mess, the smell, it just… eww. So no, we don’t do it through choice. And why do men not use the ladies to the same degree… I think I just explained it, we have massive queues. 

At the end of the day, any arguments for or against who is using toilets, is down to someone’s agenda. So we just need to be clear as to what the motivation is to help us understand a persons point of view.

The terrorism of Feminism

So as we all know, 2018 is a big year in the feminist calendar – in 1918 there was a big push to offer some women – not all, but some, the right to vote. Some might argue that as there were so many restrictions in place, it wasn’t something to celebrate. 

However, I would say that this was a massive step which leads us to the present day where most of us take being able to vote for granted. To the point that the right to vote is something so ingrained that people need to be pushed to vote in the first place. That we  are reminded that people actually died for our right to vote. 

And now we come to what I want to write about. 

f3
Emily Davison throwing herself under the Kings Horse in the 1913 Derby. She was killed.

What led to our right to vote, how did it come about and why are we quick to remind ourselves and others that Emily Wilding Davison threw herself under a horse in order to raise awareness to the cause that others like her were fighting for. 

f11

Fighting for. 

This is one aspect that seems to have been sanitised and I don’t want to go down the ‘because it is women’ road.  I really don’t. The fact of the matter is that the Suffragettes were terrorists, their intention was the terrorise the British people to force the government to take notice. 

Why and when did this happen and can we not take ownership of this part of British History? Women took extreme measures because that was the only way that they felt that they would be able to be heard, to be treated like human beings and not merely property.

A 'Lancashire lassie' escorted through the palace yard, Westminster Palace, London, March 1907.
A ‘Lancashire lassie’ being escorted through the palace yard, Westminster Palace, London, 20th March 1907. A young woman is reluctantly escorted by two policeman who are holding her by the arms. The woman is still protesting as she is led away. The last line of the verse at the bottom says ‘For Women’s Rights anything we will dare; Palace Yard, take me there!’ (Photo by Museum of London/Heritage Images/Getty Images)

There were women like Kitty Marion, who was not looking for the vote. Instead she was looking at changing the acting industry for reasons that echo #metoo and shows that in 100 years little changes and that is why we NEED extremists. Kitty carried out a nationwide campaign of arson and bombings. I am not suggesting she was alone, but that she was one of a number of extremists within a group (groups, there were several groups with similar aims). Or should I say, she was one of a number of disenfranchised women that had tried everything to make a change in a mans world and nothing worked. 

Does that sound familiar? Being pushed so far and reaching a breaking point, where suddenly everyone is forced to stop and look, listen, change is ushered through? 

We see it even now, time and again, where voices join together and manage to push something to the foreground. Where hushed whispers in corridors, the nudges, winks, the unspoken is suddenly out in the open. But where we have media, social and traditional to help promote a cause, and able to reach millions of people without much effort.. One hundred years ago, it was much more difficult to gain attention any further than locally. 

f10

Extreme measures had to be taken, and people, and property were killed, maimed and destroyed during the cause. Let us not sanitise this. I am not for a moment excusing or romanticising the violence that was used to make a point, to make noise, to get the Government to listen. I am not saying, that with enough distance and time having passed, that it was okay because it worked out in the end, I have rights, and can vote, drive, own my own property, I am not beholden to men, I can work and earn my own money. 

f9

I am not for a moment excusing the terrorism, what I am saying is that if we don’t talk about it, discuss it, review it, we will never understand the context, the history, we will not be able to understand what caused the extreme violence, why the participants felt it was the only way to get their point made, what pushed them to violence in the first place. 

“History shouldn’t be comfortable and safe, it should always challenge you and always be challenged.”