A No-Win Situation.

As you’ve probably read, there’s been a story going round about a girl walking down a street in New York and being hassled and heckled a countless number of times.

Here’s the story if you want to read it.

But we’re all used to that right? Women get cat called all the time, it’s nothing special, so we shouldn’t care about it. At least, that’s what we’re told we should think.

But it’s the comments on the video that really bother me, and really show how much work needs to be done.

“Most of those were compliments!”
“…Had those guys known how conceited that bitch was I’m sure they wouldn’t give her two fucks!”
(Apologies for the language)

As another reporter pointed out, the men in these comments seem to be taking the perception of these catcalls as a threat, as a threat in itself.

It’s like the saying: the comments on any feminism post justify the need for feminism.

I noticed the woman in the video kept on being told to ‘smile’ but even when she did it didn’t stop the harassment.

And it is harassment. If women bothered men half as much, then I’m sure they’d get used to staring at the ground and politely nodding when someone cat called them.

You’re never quite sure what to do in that situation. If you ignore them and keep walking then you’re told that you’re rude and a bitch. If you say thank you or acknowledge them in any way then they take that as an invitation to talk more or follow you and it can get quite scary.

But we get it from both sides too. If you are even slightly flattered by a whistle when you walk past someone then you feel guilty on behalf of all girls who would just like to walk somewhere without being bothered and harassed a lot of the time. It’s a no win situation.

To me it really just shows how much further we have to go to help women feel safe and equal in the daily lives. We’ve made some absolutely huge leaps in the past few decades, but that doesn’t mean we can stop now.

And it doesn’t mean that men have it super easy all the time, of course they have their issues too, but right now it does seem like women have more pressing issues that make us feel scared in our daily lives. Is that not worth trying to fix?

I probably won’t see a time when women are properly safe and equal in my lifetime, but hopefully we’ll get much closer.

That’s the goal anyway.

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#feelingnuts gave me an idea

I watched a comedy show with the message: Learn how to and check your testicles for cancer frequently.

But even with all the shows and websites telling you how to check your nuts and boobs, how do we know what to look for?

I mean, no one’s ever felt Cancer until they have it. And the number of fat deposits or just natural bumps you could have that could be mistaken for cancer is silly.

So I had an idea. It’s probably not a novel idea, but it’s one that I haven’t seen being done before.

What if, in a doctor’s surgery, they had a fake testicle and a fake boob with fake cancer in it. Just a few lumps and just so we can get used to what a cancerous lump would actually feel like. Then we might catch many more cases before they become a real issue.

It’s just a small thought, but it’s one that could potentially save lives.

And it’d be pretty fun too.

What writing three positive things about myself a day taught me.

I’ve been trying to be happier recently.

It’s not that I’ve been depressed or even particularly sad, just not particularly happy either.

It might be one of those things that just happens when you’re thrown out into the real world and things don’t go quite as you expected. Or maybe it’s just a residual sadness from being rejected from so many jobs, especially the most recent one which was one I really wanted to do.

But really I’ve been feeling just not good enough.

Not good enough at writing, not even good enough at maths which is what I got my degree in. Really it didn’t make much sense.

So I was told by someone that writing a few things down each day that are good about yourself can help you to shift your mindset. Help you to see yourself in a better light, and really just try to not focus on just the negatives.

On day 1 I found it fairly easy: I always have a few things I like about myself stored away in case someone asks me about it. Usually my eyes, my butt, and my general politeness and niceness. So that wasn’t too hard.

On day 2 it started to get harder. I made myself write down something different each day so I would have a long list of positive things about myself when I was done. (This was only for a week).
But I found that I struggled a bit once my go to ones were gone. I had to dig a little deeper to think about what was actually good about myself. It actually felt more rewarding afterwards because of that I think.

In the later days it got even harder, but occasionally I’d hit on a vein of myself that I didn’t realise I thought was good and that would be a bit easier.

When I had the full list I read it through again. I realised a few things about my list:
It was mostly things about my physical appearance, as if I judged that much more highly than I judged personality traits, or things I did for others. I realised my perception was skewed, and I needed to fix that.

But I also realised that I hadn’t put down ‘good at maths’ or ‘good at writing’ in the list at all. Do I not think that they are positive things about me, or do I not think that I am good at them?
It makes less sense to think that about the maths, I have physical evidence to back up that I’m good at it. But I’ve never really got proof of my abilities in writing, just some compliments from people who have read the stuff I write.

Maybe I need to work on that more. Get myself some proof of my abilities and then maybe I’ll believe it.

But I do know that I really need to work on my self image. I need to believe in myself more.

It ended up being a very positive experience for me. Maybe it could be for you too?
Thank you for reading.

Racism happens to everyone.

So first I should apologise profusely for not blogging for what I think is a whole month, or even longer. My life has been a bit full on recently and I’ve also been a bit sad. I’m working at a local pub but it’s making me feel quite low, and I got an interview for an Editorial Assistant position for a magazine that publishes Scientific Research papers and articles and I’m mentally crossing everything that I get it.

So anyway, back to the real point of this post.

I read a tumblr post today that stated:
“Someone calling a white person ‘wonder bread’ isn’t racist. It’s rude, but it’s not racist. Wonder bread as an offensive term has no weight, no meaning. It’s just something to push your buttons. Using the N-word is racist – it has meaning and weight and brings up a past that should’ve never happened. The comparison between rude and racist is like squares and rectangles – every square is a rectangle, but not every rectangle is a square. Every racist comment you hear is rude, but not every rude comment you hear is racist.”
– from an in-class debate about white supremacy (via seehowtame)

And I can see their point that racism towards Black (apologies if that term is racist in itself) or really any “non-White” race is particularly bad as white people in the past have been horrible to pretty much anyone that’s different to them, especially black people.

But we also tend to forget the definition of racism itself which, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, is defined as:
The belief that all members of each race possess characteristics, abilities, or qualities specific to that race, especially so as to distinguish it as inferior or superior to another race or races.
Prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed against someone of a different race based on the belief that one’s own race is superior.

So, unless I’m mistaken, racism can be towards anyone, even white people. Not that it would be as bad as the racism that stems from generations of abuse, but it would still be technically racism. Besides, it would just be plain rude no matter who it was directed towards.

Basically, as much as I agree that racism towards other races is terrible, racism towards white people does exist, even in its own minuscule forms, and, if we want to completely eradicate racism towards anyone, we need to completely put a stop to it. That means all of it.

I am woman, hear me roar.

I had a conversation with my dad recently that sparked a thought in me:

Do men genuinely believe that some sexism isn’t even that bad? Or see equality where there isn’t?

Basically, me and my dad were having a debate about abortion, as you do. I was on the side of “I think hat women should possibly have a slightly bigger opinion on whether to abort or not, considering it is their own body that they are risking and possibly even their life.”

My dad had this opinion:
“Although, if the woman decides to keep get baby, the dad has to pay for it for a long time.”

So I said “So you think looking after a child is the same amount of work as paying for it?”
And his answer was basically a yes.

I was shocked.
But it also got me thinking about how he came to have this opinion. And, along with another conversation where he equated the risk of attack and rape to a woman with the risk of a guy being beaten up as ‘almost the same thing’ so I felt like my general fear isn’t as justified, it solidified my opinion.

Guys are taught to deny sexism.

It might not even be a conscious decision, and they might not even realise that what they are saying is actually invalidating our fears as women on a daily basis, but they do seem to come up with those sort of comments on a regular basis. Even the nice ones. (And no, here I don’t mean “nice”.)

So is it our jobs to teach them, slowly and over a long time changing their opinions?
Well, yes. Who else is going to do it?

Here’s some general sexism I’ve come across in the past week.

1. The first time a woman has been a director of a Disney film was in Frozen. (I didn’t fact check this, but if it’s true it’s shocking.)

2. My dad has only been groped once. By a guy. And never cat called in public. I however can’t even count the number of times both things have happened to me.
Yet guys still don’t understand the general background fear I have when going out? Strange.

3. A description of a Mary Sue:
“So, there’s this girl. She’s tragically orphaned and richer than anyone on the planet. Every guy she meets falls in love with her, but in between torrid romances she rejects them all because she dedicated to what is Pure and Good. She has genius level intellect, Olympic-athelete level athletic ability and incredible good looks. She is consumed by terrible angst, but this only makes guys want her more. She has no superhuman abilities, yet she is more competent than her superhuman friends and defeats superhumans with ease. She has unshakably loyal friends and allies, despite the fact she treats them pretty badly. They fear and respect her, and defer to her orders. Everyone is obsessed with her, even her enemies are attracted to her. She can plan ahead for anything and she’s generally right with any conclusion she makes. People who defy her are inevitably wrong.”

Sounds annoying right?

This tumblr user ladyloveandjustice just described Batman.

And she points out that there isn’t even a widely used term for a male Mary Sue. This is just another inequality that puts the microscope on women and not on men.

Even the term ‘strong female character’ has taken some hits as it’s become a widely used phrase. It’s become almost a stereotype that we’re not allowed to use. Why not write a weak woman? Someone who’s afraid of the dark? Why not huh? Why does a woman have to act like a man to be seen as strong huh? (Hopefully you’re detecting my sarcasm here.)

Basically a woman can be whatever she wants and, surprise surprise, she’s also a human being. Think of how many ‘friend zoned’ male characters there are out there? Why the double standard?

Don’t get me wrong, we have taken huge steps in creating more equality between men and women. And, we’ll probably never quite get there as men and women are actually a bit different, but we’ll hopefully get a lot closer.

What we have to realise though is that we’re still not there. Yet.

So, there you have it, another take on the world by yours truly. Hope you enjoyed my rant of the day. *tips hat*

On apologising.

Recently I’ve had a few situations where something bad has happened, say something was broken, and the person who was at fault didn’t apologise.

The common reason in this case was ‘well I didn’t mean to do it.’ Or just an explanation of why the event happened.

I don’t think that it’s right, or polite in fact.

Let’s take the first excuse: Well I didn’t mean to do it.

In this case I would say: When else are you supposed to apologise? When you meant to do it? In that case you’d just laugh and walk away, happy that your plan succeeded.

The only case when you would actually be sorry would be when you didn’t mean to do it, and hence that is no reason not to say it.

I pride politeness over a fair few things, which is surprising considering it took me a very long time to get saying please and thank you down properly.
Therefore it’s tough for me to understand why other people can’t see how rude it is to just not say one simple word. It doesn’t even require that much effort really. I barely think about it and I say sorry probably too often.

I even apologise to the ground if I trip, and that makes no sense.

Even if the other person offers to fix or replace the broken item, I think I would still prefer them to apologise. Well, I would prefer both to happen, but if I had to pick one it would be the apology.

Saying sorry is easy but it just helps to diffuse the situation and calm everyone down, even lighten the mood a little, take the focus off what has just been broken and move on.

So I guess my point is: it’s better to say sorry too often than not at all. Apologise more often, what’s the downside to saying it?

And that’s my rant for the day.

‘Just’ write.

So I’ve been losing some motivation recently, partly because I’m still in a rut in life and partly because I’m just lacking in the inspiration department.

This is the reason why I haven’t been as strict about my ‘post every seven days or less’ rule and I’ve even been stuck in my story planning for my most recent novel.

I’ve just started a new part time job at a pub near my home and, as much as I do enjoy talking to the people there, I also get very stressed when dealing with real life people. I have to have a deep breath whenever I go over to take someone’s order or ask if they want another drink.

I’m trying to focus on the goal from this, which is experience and money towards my savings… And maybe a ps4. But it can be tough sometimes, especially when I’m looking at a shift that’s at least seven hours long to one in the morning, with not much of a break. But I’ll get used to it.

Eventually.

But anyway, the point of this post was writing. This came up when talking to my mum and she said that ‘if you really loved writing you’d be doing it all the time. Why haven’t you just written a bunch of short stories and sent them off?’

Because I am a novel writer. At least for now. And learning another writing type is very hard. I’d need to read a lot of that type of story and study how to structure it, because it’s very different from regular novels.

It’s not really a ‘just’ sort of thing.

I’ve also wanted to write some articles for magazines and try to get them freelance published. But there’s a similar issue in that I need a good idea for that and I need to work on it. A lot.

This connects with the general writer advice that you aren’t a real writer unless you write all the time. Make time! They say.

You know I probably could, but my mind also niggles at me that I might as well not bother as I’m not good enough, and so then it all goes out the window.

Confidence is key. Again. Ugh. Why is it always confidence?

It will come with time. But I’m also very impatient. Contradictions abound!

So the summary of this is basically:
– work is stressful, but money is nice.
– I want to write, but I can’t make myself.
– confidence helps in all corners of life.

You’re welcome internet.

Starting from scratch

I’m thinking of doing another degree.

“What?” I hear you cry. “Why? You only just finished the last one!”
Yes, yes I did. But maybe it wasn’t the right degree for me.

That happens a lot apparently. Someone spends three years solidly doing one subject and then realises that maybe they don’t want to do it for a career.

I mean, this doesn’t mean that I won’t ever go back and do maths. I did like it after all, and was fairly good at it. I just don’t feel like it’s what I want to do right now.

And so, if I seriously want to move areas into Publishing or Journalism, I’ll need some qualifications. And just maybe that means getting an Open University degree. Possibly one focusing on creative writing, then it has the added bonus of making my writing better. (In novels, obviously it would make my writing better overall too.)

And it kind of makes sense.

People always tell you that “This next stage will be totally different to what you’ve done up to now!” And then they go and get all shocked when you don’t like it anymore.

Who says that just because you liked studying something that you’ll automatically like it as a job?

Working and studying are worlds apart.

Besides, even Einstein took a break after his studies.
Sometimes you just need to get away from something, especially after long periods of concentrating on it.

So this is what happens when I leap out into the void of ‘real life’. I get a part time job at a pub and take on another degree. I’ll tell you, it wasn’t what I thought I’d be doing after my degree.

This is a big commitment though, so I will take a few days to really think it through. But right now it seems like the best move for me.

And at least it’s a step forward. That’s something at least.

Side note: I’m starting to misspell something (by slipping up on the keyboard) so often now that it can take me a few seconds to realise that soemthing isn’t actually a word.

Maybe I’ll give it my own definition. It can be my legacy.

And that’s an update on my life. Which you absolutely wanted to hear about. Yep.

Understanding Depression just a little bit more.

So after the death of Robin Williams people have obviously been talking about suicide and depression a lot. And that’s actually a fairly good thing; knowing more about depression and its effects can only help.

One of my best friends in the world has been battling depression for most of her life, and will most likely continue to battle it for the rest of her life.

What a lot of people don’t know is that depression may be due to a biological difference in the brain. A lack of dopamine is the most common idea.

But even if it is a purely psychological disorder, it is still an extremely tough thing to go thorough.

I’ve only gone through it second hand so I don’t presume to know exactly how it feels, but this is my experience, little though it might be.

It can make your brain attack you. Give you thoughts that tell you ‘you’re just not good enough’ ‘why bother even getting up, what are you going to do that’s worthwhile?’

And you can be happy whilst also being depressed. It sounds like a contradiction but it really isn’t. A happy day doesn’t negate the thoughts pulling you down. It doesn’t mean that you’re all ‘fixed’. And it definitely doesn’t mean you aren’t still deeply sad.

At one of the lowest points my friend admitted that she had had some suicidal thoughts. She wouldn’t have gone through with it, but she said that she genuinely thought that the lives of the people around her would be improved with her being gone. In that sense it’s not a selfish thought. From her perspective it’s actually very selfless.

And comedians are especially likely to have depression. The saddest people can be the best people at covering up their sadness. The class clown could be the most depressed person in the school.

Sometimes they just need someone to be there for them. To do the thing they need, when they need it.

For my friend it could be just changing the subject, moving away from the issue. Or it could be dragging out the problems inch by inch, sorting them as we find them. Or maybe just being someone to talk to when things are especially bad.

The most you can do for someone with depression is to be there for them. And let them know it. Worst case scenario, suicide hotlines can be really helpful too.

Life sucks sometimes. More for some than for others. All we can do is to try and move forward. Hopefully to somewhere better.

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