Tag Archives: feminism

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?

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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.

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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. 

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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. 

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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. 

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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. 

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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.

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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. 

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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. 

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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.

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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. 

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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. 

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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. 

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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. 

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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.”

 

#metoo

Well what a shit storm this has created. 

Not long ago, I was open about some of the abuse that I have received – and it took A LOT for me to commit that to a blog. I never talk about it. Ever. I don’t talk about the guys who have grabbed by boobs, my ass, pushed their hands into my crotch, who have pushed the hands up my skirt, who have molested me, who haven’t even asked let along ignored ‘no’.

#Metoo is important. We need to voice this sort of thing, because like I said in previous posts, we are continuously conditioned to keep quiet, to find a reason why it happened. We are told that we must have done or said something, that we should be ashamed over what happened. 

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This hashtag is supposed to highlight how many people are effected, to show that is isn’t just some bint that is featured in a news report or writes a blog or is featured on a documentary. That is is your mother, your sister, your coworker, you neighbour, it is your bus driver, your postie. It is anyone and everyone and these are not isolated. 

And you know what else, it doesn’t matter if that person misinterpreted advances. Because … oh hey there, advances, you were unwelcome. Your cat call, unwanted, you comment over the cut of the dress, unneeded. That hand on the boob over the line, the time you forced yourself on her, unforgivable. 

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Now, what else have we had over recent DAYS because of this, we have have the men complaining that it isn’t just women that are assaulted, although to be honest I think it is more women pointing this out… so okay. Sure. I get it, I really do. But one step at a time. I am all about inclusion but could we not just appreciate this for a moment before … no? Oh okay… lets all quietly change the wording on the blurb we are busily copying and pasting. 

Then we have that the men stepping up and apologising for any time they made a woman uncomfortable or if after reflection they did take things too far, didn’t listen, didn’t stop. These men have reflected, using the benefit of hindsight and been brutal in their analysis. And brave. Really fucking brave. Not only are they admitting they were wrong, they are not hiding behind ignorance or youth. They are not hiding. 

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Well, now let us move onto something else that quickly happened, to do with hiding. Women, who, like me just cut and pasted the blurb and didn’t go into their own story. Because to us, just saying #metoo was enough. It was enough to stand in solidarity to show that we are not lone, not the exception to the rule. But no, we are then told that we are faking, or hiding, or not being forthright, that we are jumping on the bandwagon. You know what. SO WHAT IF THERE ARE WOMEN OUT THERE USING THE HASHTAG ERRONEOUSLY it got us talking about it and for each woman who is just joining for solidarity’s sake, 10 more are sitting in the shadows ashamed of what might happen if they stand up.

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Oh then, yes, then we had (let us all remember this is a matter of what, 3 days?) men using the #methree hashtag. Men that have been FRIENDZONED and let us not get me started Nice guys finish last Welcome to the friend zone… and a few other blogs have covered my feelings on the matter. Or that women have had a free meal, a night out, a trip to the theatre, or a new bag out of a man and … and … get this. THEY DID NOT RETURN THE FAVOUR WITH SEX. Yes, yes I am shouting because I can honestly not fathom a time, reason, or excuse for this mentality and so I think I will leave this point alone before I do something silly. 

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Well, just when I thought that things couldn’t get worse, bear in mind every time it pops up on my news feed there is a different take on it, a friend sharing their own opinion, experience, their feelings or an article. 

This woman, I won’t utter her name. I am leaving this here. I have said quite enough about it on my own FB page, and if you are friends with me, I am sure if has popped up and I appreciate your comments on it. dickmove

Conditioned to say YES

to the dress…. and anything else that comes along.

Have you read about the chap in Bristol who set up a piano and explained to media, far and wide, that he would continue to play until his lady love until she came back to him.

Sounds like something out of a movie… anything from Princess Bride to Love Actually which a fair few infamous episodes from various sitcoms. And let us not forget the knight in white shining armour narrative which is barely questioned. It was only in the 70’s with authors like Margaret Atwood (Bloody Chamber) not questioning that someone might need saving, but rewriting the narrative as to whom is doing the rescuing.

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But let us not forget, as many men are growing up with the idea that they are the protector, the rescuer, the one who ‘does’ that is their narrative. The fact that there are more single parent families than ever has done little to disqualify this sentiment, in some cases, it could be argued that it is causing the idea that boys, need to become men who can look after their mother. A lovely sentiment but would this be the case if their father was the primary caregiver?

I digress, let us look at the Piano Dude, misguided? Enthusiastic? A Romantic? I mean what was he actually doing wrong?? Nothing! I mean what on earth, why am I taking such exception to him doing something entirely harmless, he is playing a piano. The world is watching. The media is primed to see him reunited with his love. And if that doesn’t raise any red flag for you, well… take a seat.

Some of the comments made when I shared the post : Inviting the media? It screams “Hey look at me ladies I’m a vulnerable romantic that has broken heart. I’M AVAILABLE!” At the same time it is also inviting intimidation with a crowd to take him back. There is just so much wrong with all of this.

Yup! If someone says they’re not interested just leave them alone. Being in a relationship and asking them to marry you is a bit different. Unless you just don’t want to get married ever. I’m happy just being with my boyfriend.

Yuk, he seems like a bit of a creep…perhaps why she left him in the first place, if a guy did this to me the only thing he would get is a restraining order

The way to win a woman’s affection isn’t ultimatums.

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Basically as someone who has suffered from violent unwanted advances and stalking. This is a big nope.

A. It screams of entitlement. What right does this woman have to say no. Now she can’t say no. I will embarrass her into compliance.

Compliance, this is slowly grooming a person into acting, saying or doing something you want to them to do. This can be by positive reinforcement (a la Penny and Sheldon in TBBT) offering a reward for doing as requested or wanted, or negative reinforcement where the result from stepping out of line can be physically or emotionally unsavoury. Telling an employer/friend/family member something, making fun of a person, breaking, damaging or removing something. You get the idea. 

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B. It gives others the impression that this is good idea. Either as the suitor or the victim. That big declarations of love are the way forward. That no, does not need to say no. And hell, make sure she was really sure that she is sure by repeatedly asking until she complies.

Like i said, it is wearing someone down – look I get that declarations and expressions of love are great. They really are. But they are also personal. You need to read a person. Four months is not long enough to know a person and certainly not long enough to warrant such a declaration of love. But again, it is wearing someone down and making them eventually agree. What about gut instincts. Yes, she/she may have ticked all the boxes, at the time. But no one, NO ONE is irreplaceable. And while I type that I understand that part of the grand gesture is to make that person feel that they are special. But it just continues to generate unrealistic standards. 

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C. Unrealistic romantic standards a la Hollywood are continued to be perpetuated and normalised meaning violent and abusive relationships are harder to spot and remove oneself from because, isn’t this the dream.

I was thinking about this when I switched my TV on this morning and saw Sleeping with the Enemy on. I have been accused of many things in the course of the discussion of this Piano Player. But my argument here is that he is just a lesson, as a person? Sure we don’t know much about him, but do we know any more about the characters we watch in movies, sitcoms, read about in books? They are all as one dimensional but their actions, never the less, impact on how we then interact. This isn’t to say, NO MORE ROMCOMS but that we open dialogue to understand damaging behaviours that could easily be a subtext and how they influence and how to spot when they become toxic.

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D. Yes I will stand by entitled and frankly women being shot for saying no is enough evidence.

Every day, women are attacked, physically, verbally, and mentally for expressing an opinion. For having a mind of her own, her own strategy, agenda, her own agency. Women are expected to tow the line, to comply. To be agreeable and quiet. Now I want to say, yeah know you. It is just in relationships, it is that ‘9 out of 10 know their …’ but no. No it isn’t the case. women are cat called, shouted at, grabbed by complete strangers because they are still seen a commodity that can be bought and sold and worse (?) still, that has no agency. Remember the shooting a couple of years ago in America because a girl refused the shooters advances? Or my favourite – Brock Turner who decided having merely interacted with a girl at a party gave bum the right to violently rape her? Oh and it was violent and pre meditated and he was trying to hurt her. Power play.

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Now my argument has been thrown back at me, telling me that I am over reacting and that if this is how I feel then like I said above, rom coms should be banned, and a litany of other things. Think banning violent video games and music in the wake of school shootings. That is not what is meant by this discussion and this discourse. This is merely an example to allow points to be made, issues to be highlighted. To open the dialogue about what could be potentially damaging behaviour.

As always, I can only use my female gaze and experience, I full acknowledge that this is not a gender issue and welcome discussion and discourse on this subject.

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Grooming into submission

So let us take a moment to discuss grooming. We are well aware of the word, it is bandied around a lot. We may have a shiver run down the spine as the connotations become clear.

But what isn’t clear is the wider implication of the term. It is no different than the children that we hear about. We stop and think. How did this happen. Why did no one realise, why did no one notice? Put a stop to it, what were the red flags… surely it was obvious?

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Hindsight is 20/20 = that is something we all hear a lot but it is very true. We are able to make logical and reasoned conclusions when the information is laid out for us.

October is the month we will discuss domestic violence. It is not an easy topic. It is not clean, simple, it is not easy. And I want to discuss my own experiences. I have discussed it to a degree over several blogs. It is not something I enjoy discussing. Far from. But I want to give you an insight. What I experienced? Nothing. It is nothing in comparison to what others have experienced.

However, I will share a few things that have happened, with the benefit of hindsight and I am hoping that will help open the conversation up a little.

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I grew up in a violent house hold. This is something that was not really discussed at the time or for a long period afterwards. I remember one afternoon, after dinner. Something had set an argument off between my parents. We were all sitting at the dinner table, the meal had finished. There was a teapot on the table. The plates had been cleared. My brother was sent to his room. I have my back to the rest of the room and parents on either side. There was shouting, screaming. The teapot was thrown. The tea marked the ceiling after that day. The cupboards behind my fathers chair were slammed hard enough for glass to break.

This was far from isolated. My father was a very angry person. If things were not done just so, or when he said there was a raised voice. Hands were raised. Against each other? I don’t think so. I am sure that it was voices and emotional abuse. But that is my mother’s story and not mine to tell. She left with us, when I was 12 years old and not a moment too soon.

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Now fast forward a year or so. I used to go to school in Cornwall and lived in Devon, and not just over the bridge. It took well over an hour to get home. The second bus often had Dockyard workers. One man got talking to me about … look honestly I can’t remember. But he was very complimentary. He liked my purple eye shadow (I loved purple, don’t judge!) and would always make sure to sit next me to talk. Now, at the time I didn’t give it a second though. I was clearly in school uniform the first time he spoke to me and that was always a topic of conversation. I didn’t think there was anything more to it and didn’t for a moment think that I got off the bus practically on my door step was anything to concern myself with. Luckily I got chatting to a couple of kids my own age and this put a stop to anything that may have happened. I am not saying anything would have happened. But does it show you how easy it is?

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Let us move forward to someone I used to spend time with at 16. I had known him casually for a while, we shared similar interests and he met my friends, he was 10 years older than me. I had spent time at his home a number of times and there was never a thought it would be at all inappropriate. He had a live in girlfriend and seemed pleasant, laid back. One day I was hanging out at his house and we where both on the sofa. I was lying down and somehow he ended up lying down behind me. He made a comment about my perfume and I really didn’t know what to say or do. We finished the movie and I went home as planned. A few weeks later, he popped over to my house and we went for a drive. Nothing unusual about this, and I didn’t give it a second thought. Until we had driven to an out of the way car park and he started sliding his hands over my top, on my thigh. Now I was not stupid. I knew what was going on. I didn’t want it to happen and luckily he stopped and we went home. He wasn’t happy and yes, it was my fault, I had led him on and how I better not mention it to his girlfriend or he would tell my mother what a whore his daughter was.

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Now let us move onto the biggie. You see, I had met someone and dating him on and off. Ended up living with him. To say the relationship was complicated was somewhat of an understatement. We dated, we stopped dating, he slept with someone, we slept together, I was completely at his mercy.

This is the one. This is the big one. You see, in both previous (there are other incidents but 3 is the right number I guess) there was a degree of grooming involved. Compliments, listening, just keeping someone company. Similar interests. In older men – when you don’t have experience it is easy to be blamed for leading them on because you may be doing something they expect someone to do if interested. But I will say this. That is an excuse whatever your age and NEVER EVER let someone make you believe it. Well.

This last one, it was over a period of time, and started in my home town, he moved to London. I ended up in London and because I had never really lost contact, we started hanging out again. I knew a lot of his friends group so it was natural that I would fit into his social group again. He worked in the financial district and because I was very much in the PVC and lace goth period, I was somewhat of a novelty. He paraded me around like some toy. Luckily I can hold a fairly civilised conversation and got on well with his colleagues so I was never an embarrassment. But I helped add to his mystique. And all the time he told me I was stupid. Worthless. I worked in a hotel to begin with, then I moved and worked in a bar. I then moved back home and lived with a friend. He couldn’t let me go, this isn’t conceit on my side. He couldn’t let go because I had gone. He hadn’t had a say in the matter. I ended up agreeing to pop up for the weekend. That turned into a week.  I moved in. I can’t even remember it being an actual conversation. Isn’t that the excuse? ‘Oh well she just moved herself in, I felt trapped’. How he only cheated on me because I assumed he already had (he had) but honestly? I was past caring by this point. His flatmate (a mutual friend) had moved out. We moved house. I ended up sleeping on the sofa. It wasn’t something we discussed. I just did it. I needed to give myself some space. He was still sleeping around. He did it with intent. Always from our friends circle. Which shows how fucked up our relationship was. No one knew our status and clearly some people didn’t give a fuck.

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I am editing a lot here, I am sorry. But this is difficult enough as it is and I don’t know anyone wold want to read an even longer blog but please, feel free to contact me if you want to discuss.

So the final move, my boss had recently moved and his house was on the market. So we moved in. We had separate rooms by this point and led fairly independent lives. Up to a point. I remember my close friend spending time with us during all of this and would say what a lovely couple we made, how lovely we were, comfortable together. Well, we knew each other intimately, inside out. He had known me since I was 15. By the time I left? I was 23. That is a big chunk of time to know someone. And formative years. I wasn’t in a relationship with him the entire time but he was there, in the background.

One day, I remember, I was in the kitchen, and chatting to my friends, I had made 2 calls one after the other. I had expressed that I wasn’t happy. One was a good friend, one a relatively new one. Now I honestly can’t tell you who it was at the time. But I was just saying how unhappy I was. There were a number of reasons, failed relationship, money, sleeping on the sofa. I didn’t even realise that he was there. Suddenly he flew into the kitchen. Punched me. While I was on the phone. When I finished my call he called me out for acting shy around him. How I should know he wouldn’t hit me without reason. What always comes back to me especially with this one. The language. The cute names, the terms of endearment. There is something very sinister about someone using a cute name for you. Never using your given name. You know how if someone uses your full name at school? That the headmaster is calling? Or your mother calling your name and if she uses your entire name you may as well dress for your funeral? Well this is the same. The cuter the name, I can’t say them even now. But I remember at the time, I even thought… he cares enough to give me cute names. Social conditioning? It has taken a long time to get over my issue with it. And Batman knows I do it myself. Often I will use an ‘anti’ cute name for people or a level of sarcasm as somewhat of a defence mode. This isn’t to say don’t call your girlfriend ‘cupcake’ ‘sugartits’  whatever, but it is just another little part of the grooming that I endured and I am sure I am not alone but I don’t for a moment assume to project my own experience onto another.

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What utterly broke me – what was the straw? It was a mutual friend, whom I had spoken to about my issues with him. She knew more than … actually anyone. Because she had known him almost as long as I had, who had dated his best friend. We had an argument and she threw it all back in my face. The argument was not even directly related to me, it was to do with her BF and a mutual friend. So why it got so vicious. I don’t know. But she didn’t believe me. Had she ever? Was she just saying it to hurt me? Clearly I was such a good actress as she questioned it. Why would I still be there? Why would I live there? Why had I not said or done something. I mean… it wasn’t bad he wasn’t hitting me. We weren’t even dating at this point, what was stopping me.

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But all of this? It comes down to grooming. I am sorry, this has been more of a release of information that something more informative. But are you reading this as someone who had suffered from mental or physical abuse. To be told, no one would want you, you are useless, stupid, you did this, you caused this, you are responsible, that somehow, it is your fault. And this is from friends, family, strangers, society let alone your abuser ? When people stand around saying ‘once is enough, I would leave’ and make you feel like shit for staying. For not realising how difficult this is. That is isn’t always as simple as walking away, even if children are not involved? That your life is more than just who you are in a relationship with. It is more people. It is all those friends who you see all the time but don’t see a problem. That hell, might even whisper in his ear, she is no good, you can do better. Who don’t for a moment see the haunted look in your eye.

Because the problem is, behind closed doors people behave differently, when they are at work, when they are with their friends, family, when they are chatting to the barman? That isn’t always the person you see at bed time first thing in the morning, when the dinner isn’t just right, or you hadn’t had a chance to hoover because you were doing over time. Because your friend’s mutual or otherwise will have been won over by them, your family will have gotten to know them over a period of time. Maybe they didn’t agree with them to begin with, maybe now they are part of the furniture. Or won them over, after all you are still with them ?

Grooming is about slowing introducing behaviour that you would not normally tolerate, of changing your tolerance, your habits, of converting your social circle, friends, family. So that the changes are not noticed. It is not over night, it isn’t something that happens over a weekend, it is a long game. It is something that happens slowly, and this is where the danger is.

If you are in a position where you feel you are out of your depth, you need help or support? Or do you suspect someone needs helps?

Please, the worst thing you can do is say ‘well I managed/it is easy/why didn’t you’

Because every story is different, everyone has their own path.

Some places that can help :

Victim Support UK

Women’s Aid UK

Refuge UK

 

 

It is so hard being a pacifist

When all around you, the world is burning. When you lose friends over suggesting that violence does not beget violence you do start to question your stance on such things.

You see, for the longest time, I was so far from a pacifist. I would have whole heartedly say that punching a White Supremacist is warranted and exactly  the right reaction. That actually, they should all get a taste of their own medicine and on and on. However, I would also suggest that a better world view is to treat people the way that you would want/like/expect to be treated.

BEFORE you try suggesting that that moto is exactly what was happening in the incident I am alluding to. No. No it isn’t. Because the person doing the punching, that is the person who has forgotten. He is punching someone. He can now only expect the same treatment. Do you see how it works? It is an honour system. We all buy into it because we are all wanting the same treatment and by even one stepping out, it has a knock on effect.

The problem is, oh who am I kidding, where do I start? In my last post I alluded to the current situation in American and have waxed lyrical over the last 24 hours over a bunch of people’s status updates and lost friends. I don’t believe that W.S should be refered to as Nazi’s and that I feel I covered in the last blog post. However, there is a question of the culture that helped create this situation.

Nearly 100 years ago, there was a perfect stop of post war reparations and wound licking in Europe that allowed the Nazi party to not only form, but to become popular, gain power and eventually parliament. This was not something that happened over night. It was not a ‘blink and you miss it’ situation that left everyone shocked and surprised.

My argument is that, look America has a fraught relationship with racism. It is a country based on slavery of indigenous people people being shipped in as labour. But this is not really what I wanted to discuss and honestly I don’t know enough on the subject. However, racism is not a new issue, it is not something that is even hidden. AS SUCH I mean we all know it, we see it, we know that WS are prevalent in America (I couldn’t say if less or more so than other countries per capita) but I guess the problem is that it has never been something that you are proud of. Or something you proudly display? Or … FLY FUCKING FLAGS ABOUT. Am I making sense? As I write this I just watched a video where a woman approached her neighbour who is flying a Nazi flag and he couldn’t explain why. I mean if you are going to be open about your inclinations, then you should be able to back it up? 

So what I am trying to say, in a round about way – racism is not something that has recently sprung up in America but like Germany, it has been simmering away for a long, long time and it was just wanting for the perfect series of events to burst into the forefront. 

One thing that does bear remembering. Trump is racist. We can all agree on this. But is is not politically or otherwise, aligned to any WS groups. He is an idiot but he doesn’t legitimise his bigotry in such a way. The WS groups which are not even splinter, they exist independently and just happen to have similar views/values…. they are not political and not aligned with any political parties. I think it is important to remember that technically they are not legitimised in any way. RIGHT UP UNTIL Trump refuses to condemn what happened. Trump who goes into a melt down over a chain store no longer selling his daughters handbags? Among other things. This president who cries foul over the smallest indiscretion, real or imagined. Cannot muster the letters to condemn the march, the murder or the intent. 

And we have Confederate statutes being removed under the over of darkness with a police escort in case of any trouble? This is the America the rest of the world just watches in a stunned silence. Because we are a little stunned that it is a shock, that no one saw this coming. But you know what is really hard? Seeing someone getting punched, and suggesting that this is not the right reaction. And being told that at best by suggesting two wrongs don’t make a right, you are either complicit or at worst, a nazi sympathiser? I mean… 

IT IS HARD TO BE A PACIFIST you get what I mean? Hell yeah, I bet it would feel great to punch someone in the face for sharing abhorrent views. That everything they stand for disgusts you to the point that you have the energy, passion and desire to knock them out. Yep. Honestly, hand on cold, dead, heart. I do understand it. BUT IT IS NOT THE ANSWER because that guy? The one you punched? It was unprovoked wasn’t it? Did he say anything to you? Provoke you? Did he make a move to physically harm you? Nope, he didn’t and there we go, that is the problem. Because you really do need to take the high ground. If we all just resort to violence you are no better than them, sure violence is their language, it is one that they use, that they are fluent in. We need to talk, we need to be loud, we need to show that we are now cowed by them. But you know what we don’t need to do? Lower ourselves to their level. They have experience and will use it to beat us. Being a pacifist is not a bad thing, it can be hard, damned hard. But I stand by it.

What is in a name

Would a rose smell as sweet … 

Okay this isn’t about names, at least not entirely. As some of you reading this will know, I don’t go by my given name on some social media platforms, predominantly Facebook. I have taken a gender neutral name which for the most part seems to be taken as a male name. I KNOW RIGHT? Assuming my gender like that. Coupled with this, apparently my profile pictures cause some confusion. 

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So my attempt at a degree of anonymity on line does appear to be bearing some fruit? Well I signed up to Sarahah on a whim at the weekend and combined with my then profile picture (a cat), I picked an illustration a friend had completed earlier which I kinda liked. 

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I didn’t really get much interaction, even after talking to my friend about this, and further inspired by an anonymous comment made about never using my own picture as a profile (profile pictures tend to be set as public, reasoning is to make it easier to tell if you are stalking the right person) which is untrue. However, I used a festival makeup look selfie I had taken a couple of weeks ago that I was pleased with. I changed both my profile picture on FB and within the app. 

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Now I have mentioned my perceived ambiguity on social media previously and how it can lead to frustrating and upsetting interactions. In groups that I spend time in which are mixed gender, it is often assumed that I am male. Luckily the downright rude comments are kept to a minimum. I didn’t realise how much of a different changing a profile picture would have to my interactions.

This is small scale compared to experiments where men pretend to be women on social media etc etc but it just proves again that we are all dealing with people on how they present themselves. I was going to write a blog on Cat-Fishing (a term I am going to assume that you are all aware of) and how this makes me uncomfortable.

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It is all linked in. I don’t tend to put up many makeup free/normal selfies of myself. I don’t encourage tagging in such photos either.  So while I do argue that most of my profile pictures are of me, they are of a version of me, a better version of me. With good skin, great hair, looking like a drag queen, a fairy, a unicorn, mermaid… I won’t go on but you get the idea. So I guess because I do control what images of me go on social media, I am editing how people can perceive me. This is cat fishing to a degree, as much as I struggle against it. 

I guess the problem here is that, there is no winning. Text lacks body language, and inflection and sound in order to be able to take cues from a person that one would normally expect when first meeting someone. So as much as I might struggle again using a ‘normal’ photo of me, my profile picture will be what most people use to base their initial and subsequent interactions on. That is if they don’t already know me outside the SM bubble, or if they do end up meeting me. The latter can be utterly terrifying, it is like you are being unmasked at the end of a Scooby cartoon.

 

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Sex sells, pretty brings gazes, it is not news to anyone. When you are picking a profile picture how much effort do you put into it. Do you just pick the first selfie you have, do you pick something more meaningful, a memory, event, your pet, child. All the considerations or lack thereof will all have a bearing on how you are interacted with. In the same way they are generally. When you get dressed in the morning, no matter what your personal style is, you know that people you interact with will respond to it. So, it is no different in this context. I chose cover myself in a little anonymity on line, and that is fine. I have no problem with it. But now I have written this reflective account, it is interesting to see how much different just changing a profile picture can make your interactions. 

Sorry if anyone was expecting a feminist rant 🙂 I am sure I can come up with one later! 

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Welcome to the friend zone…

here is your season pass. Enjoy your stay, make yourself comfortable. You won’t be leaving any time soon.

Last year I wrote Friend Zoning… and as I had shared it a couple of times with friends, it popped up on my FB memories. Now, I have to be honest. I like a good discussion on many topics and am more than willing to concede ground when I am wrong or given new information to process. This is one of the things I refuse to change my stance on. The a fore mentioned blog was written with the radio show in mind and was followed up by Nice guys finish last.

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I found at the time that I wrote them both, many people didn’t really understand what the term implied, which often led to miscommunication as to why I hate/d the term so much. I really am not as unreasonable as some of my output would suggest. 

Fundamentally it comes down to trust. I have always had more male than female friends and it never (past and present) occurred to me that there is anything on the table other than friendship. I don’t assume men only talk to me because of my gender. If we are talking because of a mutual interest then I assume it is nothing more than that. But apparently I am the strange one of this thought process.

This issue of trust is multifaceted – it can me from the partner of the man or worse her friends. Whispering about what sort of woman hangs out with men. Is that woman some sort of slut, being passed around. Surely there is no other reason that the men would be spending time with her. And this comes down to insecurity that there is a part of his life the S.O is not part of will fully or otherwise. Then you have the man himself – he only entered into any sort of relationship with you because he was pursuing you. Whether you realised it or not. And this makes things somewhat uncomfortable. Especially when you genuinely are oblivious that there is some sort of transaction in place – that in fact, no good deed going unpunished. This isn’t a friend offering you a lift. This is just another transaction that puts good credit in, which can be used to pay for a reward later. 

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Now to go with the last point, I completely understand that everything is based on a work/reward basis. You do things for the reward, whether that is tangible (go to work, get paid) or by being kind to someone (good feeling is its own reward etc). And this is of course the same in any human interaction. No one does something completely altruistic. There is always a payoff. And just because it makes you feel good to make others feel good is still a reward. So yes, I can see how the confusion can come about. And I am risking repeating myself with this avenue of discussion.

Now, I am not blind to the fact that the idea of friend zoning, or what it means at its very core, is gender less. What friend zoning, or rather the habits that cause contention tend to be at the feet of women. Men will invest time and or money in a woman in the hope that she appreciates him and takes a chance, or as an excuse to spend time with her he will buy or give him time, or because he thinks he can buy her, or simply you get to know someone with no real ulterior motive and fall for them and it is not reciprocated. So I guess in this paragraph I just sound a little pissed on behalf of my gender. And of course, we have plenty of pop culture references to show us how women use their wiles to capture a man, even if it is just to pay some bills. How to Marry a Millionaire anyone? 

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I get it, some women will abuse a man and take what she can get, hell there are even sugar daddy websites now that allow these sorts of financial transactions to take place. I would still suggest that you wouldn’t offer what you can’t afford to lose. My argument against the term is not that it doesn’t exist. That there aren’t people who won’t try and get their pound of flesh. No, they will. But it isn’t simply to with sex – friends, family, co workers? There will be people in your life that will try and squeeze what they can from you and will be offended if you suggest that there should be some balance in the relationship.

Friend zoning, or the many ideas behind it, nuances, mean that it is indeed very difficult to pin point as almost everyone has their own idea behind it. But for me, it is simple, Friend zone is a term used by a man to suggest that having a woman as a friend is a runner up prize. To suggest that because all that was invested, was no enough, that having a friend is not enough. Nothing will ever be enough. And this, I hate to say it, comes down to male privilege. It is Broke Turner and all those that came before him, and those who will come after him. That believe that if they invest in a woman, she should be grateful for the attention and become supplicant. That any woman who turns down the advances is then to be shamed and the blame placed at her feet, SHE friend zoned. It was an act that she deliberately and with premeditation, chose to do. Just because you masturbated to her FB profile picture, did not mean that she was similarly attracted or even aware that this was the cost of being in your friend circle.

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Am I angry that women are made to feel like shit because of something that they can’t control? Because male privilege suggests that women should be conditioned to react favourably to any attention levied on them? Damned right I am. That a few women, who are used to knowing that most men (and a bunch of women) that they meet will want to fuck them, use it to their advantage? That this nullifies my upset of the term and everything that it represents? That there are guys shooting up entire dorms on university campus’ because they got turned down by someone? Oh baby, please. It isn’t even a question. The actions of the few does not speak for the many. 

Making someone feel guilty for not reciprocating is not fair, or justified. 

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