Saturday, 10 November 2007

If walks like a duck....

University of Reading study says that placenta acts like parasite as reported here by the bbc. I think, amazingly, women might have already figured this out.

And in another university study, this time by Queens university Ontario, scientists are shocked to discover that women do NOT swing their hips to attract men, because they only do that when they're least fertile. Because women only have sex to get pregnant. Or are we supposed to imagine that the best way for women to get a good mate/ fellow parent to their offspring is to attract some random guy in their most fertile period, not build up a relationship with them. This is shoddy, culturally imperialist blinkered science. grrrrr

Sunday, 14 October 2007

all at sea

This was a hard week.

I've been quite stupidly ridiculously lucky and since I was 17 have been pretty much exclusively in the company of pro-queer, pro-feminist clever liberal types. And while during that time I've had to deal with people who were not any of those things I've done it through the lens of having regular affirming acceptance of my ideals, my beliefs, my sexuality. Which I always knew was actually pretty unusual, but it's one thing to know and it's another thing to actually live it, as I am now finding out.

I am glad in a funny stupid sort of way; it's a great way of hardening my feminist resolve, of reminding me of my privilege as an articulate intelligent person. And yet it's too hard.

I've never been an adult queer in an unwelcome environment. Avoidance of unwelcoming environments has dictated some very important choices in my life so being forced to be here isn't wonderful. And I just found out my first school placement (this course is 50% taught at uni, 50% practical placement) is in a Roman Catholic school which, according to its website, thinks that drawing pictures of dead relatives and saints is an appropriate activity for 8 year olds! Pagan queer feminist teacher in a rough inner city catholic school... yeah I'm nervous.

I just feel isolated at the moment, in a way I haven't done since I was... yeah 17. There are so many ways in which my attitudes towards things my coursemates take for granted are so different as to be alien to them( ; ie. they say:little girls are naturally sweeter and like dolls and boys have more energy I say: mostly behaviour which is induced by society, AND I don't see the difference in energy just in ways people let them express that. they say: I don't care how many civil liberties the government encroaches it if might save one life. I say: arag!! well no actually I respond with coherent if extremely simple arguments against their crazy right wing conservativeness, but inside I am saying ARAG!!

coming out is a process. I always knew that, but it feels like I keep having to come out as so many different things at once. Like when someone said "so you're a feminist to me" yesterday like I'd confessed I enjoyed dismembering puppies in my spare time, or when I talked about an ex-girlfriend during lunch one day and the whole group perceptibly moved away. Or indeed pretty much any time I express any opinion about anything. And I know this is most likely what most people go through, and I probably sound whiny and naive but I really hadn't expected it would be like this; so overwhelming and isolating.

And that's my life at the moment, which combined with a whole load of other shit is making me feel really really crap... I'm trying to keep it together, to remember why I'm here, why I'm doing this, who really matters. But urgh. Ad next weekend I have to go play nice at my parents 25 wedding anniversary, which is actually the absolute last thing I need to do right now.

But even though the people I really love are a very long way away right now they are still trying to be there for me. I spent 2 hours yesterday on the phone to a friend who hates the phone. It's just hard to remember how loved and supported you are in the moment you're feeling the hate.

Any advice on how to deal with dense conservatives who believe whole hearted in the patriarchy and are so hetero normal as to not even understand what that means will be more than appreciated.

Monday, 8 October 2007

ever noticed how buses come in 3's?

Tonight I was watching midlands today, the BBC news service for this area of the British isles. They were promoting this website. Go. Have a shufty. I'll wait.

Obviously there is an awful lot that a queer feminist can find to say about the idea of "moaning about men," an awful alot of it far to easy and obvious.
The moans themselves; mostly women complain about men treating them as lesser beings, not appreciating the work they do in their homes, not being treated as equal adults, men treating their partners as domestic servants rather than PARTNERS. All oh so obvious to the feminist reader. And pretty indicative of everything feminism is working against.

So how are these women advised to deal with these issues? Should they talk to their men about it? Should they leave their partners to find someone who will respect them? Or should you just suck it up because thats how men are; the gender role of men is one which does not encompass behaving like a decent reasonable adult human being? Well the whole "moan about men" name of the website really gives that one away.

And then there's this story. My only thought; would they perform a castration in order to prevent a boys indignity of wet dreams and the pain of blue balls? Somehow I think not.

If that's not enough for you I am watching a documentry on channel 4 right now about children and young being abducted and traficed into the sex trade or sold as wives in china. Because in the patriarchy we're chattel.

So yeah not happy. Sometimes the world pisses me off.

edited to add: while on my trip round the world I was in china and while watching this documentary I realised I saw one of the posters of missing children featured in this documentary. I remember being in the city, remember seeing the poster and wondering what the story was behind it. Now I know. Which is actually very very sad.

Friday, 21 September 2007


Right, so I'm back from my trip around the world and at some point I shall post up my experiences as a feminist travelling in some fairly unfeminist places. But for now I'm going to talk about what I'm up to at the moment:

I'm doing teacher training at a pretty prestigous british university in the midlands. that's all I shall say about the institution, but you can probably deduct :) I'm doing Early Years education and boy oh boy having I been getting some serious feminist/ queer/ pagan blogging material out of the whole thing.

The are pretty much no men. There are quite a few reasons for this. Most obviously teaching little children is not seen as the preserve of men in the patriarchy. There has to be something wrong with you, like being gay, or a pervert, if you actually want to spend time with kids, according to the stupid powers that be here. And of course Early Years Education is the least prestigious branch of education... stupidly. I mean of course the start of things, the basic building blocks of all future education are the least prestigous, that makes sense right? But regardless of whether it makes sense it's not as prestigious or as respect, so of course fewer men want to do it. Which in turn makes it less prestigious and respected. And of course the fact that few men would want to work in a women dominated enviroment....

I was at a lecture this week on inclusion. The assumption of whiteness, of straightness, of the patriarchy was pretty sickenly obivous, even in such a pc subject. Everything else was referred to as "the other" even after the lecturer had highlighted the exclusive nature of using such terms. As part of this "other", working in a conservative gender stereotype perpetuating, pro christian, anti queer enviroment is weird..

Monday, 7 May 2007

Princess Leia made me a feminist

I know it's been a while since I posted but I've been busy in land of joyTM, also known as Norway and buying a car and other mundanities since I returned. There are many exciting posts backlogged now, including an article on Virgina Woolf and Iran (together not 2 separate articles) that I wrote on a train, two band reviews and a number of other sundry musings.

But before any of that I saw this story today and I had to blog about it, it came as no surprise to me, I've watched the original 3 movies so many times that I actually know a lot of it off by heart. As a 10 year old girl I actually knew the entirety of those three movie of by heart. And not just because they where cool sci-fi films. Nope, Star Wars changed my world. It wasn't the first of my great existential moments of childhood, of which I shall say more in a later post, but it was the experience that made me a feminist.

I mean Princess Leia is a pretty amazing role model. She's an experienced politician, and while ok she is beautiful it is, in the first 2 original movies, a beauty without vanity, prepared to get down and dirty with the rebellion. She's a leader, valued for her intelligence and her passionate commitment to a political course. She's a fighter, in fact she's the best shot out of anyone in the original star wars films. And she doesn't just sit and wait for stuff to happen to her, she instigates, she's more important than her love interest and he isn't threatened by that. Their relationship is based on antagonism sure but also respect. I challenge you to find a better feminist role model in the movies for children growing up in the 80's and 90's. There was really very little there.

Which is the key for me really. Growing up in the deepest darkest back waters of west wales I had no feminist role models apart from my grandmother and the kick ass feminist attitude of ones then 60 year old grandma is rarely apparent to 10 year olds. I lived in a household where women waited on and took care of men. Where men could and did use physical violence and the threat of physical violence to silence women and 10 year old girls. I lived in a society where intelligence, especially and particularly female intelligence, was a bad thing. And where male and female relationships were based on the physical attractiveness of women, not their fesitiness or abilities. In that context Star Wars didn't just give me hope, it showed me what to hope for. And gave me a massive crush on Harrison Ford that I still can't quite get over....

Writing this has reminded me that I've been wanting for a long time to write a series of essays on female characters relationships as models for their fans relationships. Maybe I'll post them up here. I could cover how the Sarah and Jareth relationship in Labyrinth has left a generation of intelligent women with a david bowie fetish (or according to one of my ex-girlfriends a significant penis fear... but that's an entirely different story), and examine how her self actualisation is only achieved through rejecting powerful symbols of patriarchal oppression.

Or how Spike and Buffy's relationship on BtVS is a direct consequence of the psychological affects of the Han and Leia and Sarah and Jareth relationship on the audience physche; same generation was the key audience for all three shows. Buffy has a relationship based on mutual antagonism and respect, but which also has a phase of jareth like obsession and possessive behaviour which is only resolved when she rejects his power over her through self determination.
The relationships of key characters in shows can actually be seen to reflect the growing rise of feminism and, in turn, the changing feminist struggles of its audience....

I could write a brilliant doctorate on this, if only I was doing a phd in television or media or something. Instead I got in the Warwick PGCE course and shall be studying there next year. I am very excited, I mean this will pay the bills and I'll have the chance to shape and mold young minds. Apparently some people find it slightly disturbing the way I start moving my hands like a puppet master of tiny invisible puppets everytime I say that....

But yes to swing back on topic. Princess Leia is why I because a feminist. Not many people can say that.

Saturday, 21 April 2007

Reporting rape

Thispost on Taking Steps about rape from a survivors view point entirely sums up why I didn't report, or indeed tell anyone for a long time, about being raped, or even identify it in my head as rape for a long time.

I was just 17, naive and felt completly responsible for putting myself in a situation where a guy could do that to me. I wasn't drunk or on drugs, I'd just gone to meet him in a quiet out of the way place for what I thought would be making out. Yet still, even though I was bruised and bloodied and beaten I thought no-one would believe me, that it was my fault for wanting to make out with a guy that I liked, for having desire. I had virtually no experience to measure this against. At the time I was at a fancy private school and I was terrified about the scandal bringing the school, which I loved, down, and of the shame of everyone talking about me.

6 months later a different girl was assualted by a different guy. The school blackmailed her into not pressing charges, the guy was not punished and eventually she quit. The rumor mill had a field day and was always on the guys side, who was pretty popular.

I was so glad I had said nothing. Now nearly 5 years later I don't know how I feel about it; as a feminist I feel like I should have reported, I feel guilt for letting my fear let a man get away with this, and I feel terrible for not being more supportive of that other girl, of not forcing this school, which was so proud of how progressive it was, to change its ways.

But as me, the woman who was the frightened teenage girl I can't fault my choice; I would not have been able to withstand the pressure of a trial or investigation or the public shame. Not on top of dealing with the rape.

It would have been easier to report if I hadn't known the guy, if I hadn't been brainwashed into thinking that rape was always the victims fault, or that rape was always perpatrated by strangers. It would also have been easier to report if I hadn't known that rape cases in the UK hardly ever went to trial and when they did were hardly ever successful.

If I was ever raped again would I report? I don't know. I like to hope that I would be brave enough, that I would have the courage of my convictions. But I really don't know.

I do know that this has to change. Attitudes towards rape have to change, thoughout society. Laws have to change, all over the world. And feminists are the only people who can make that change happen.

Thursday, 19 April 2007


i've got a big review of an amazing gig that I went to on tuesday night to give you. But I've been busy so I haven't finished it. So instead we're going to talk about crystals. I'm going around the world, as you, my faithful non-existent readership know, and as a pagan I've been thinking about what supplies of the magical* type I should bring along. I'm toying with the idea of brining my tarot cards, because well, I'm travelling round the world alone and there's nothing like telling peoples fortunes to make friends, right? But I want to bring along some protection. And that, to me, means crystals.

I've used crystals since before I ever considered myself pagan. Gemstones and plain old stone stones, for various purposes. Aged 11 I brought my first two crystals on a family holiday in Lyme Regis; a tigers eye and an obsidian. I needed grounding and induitivly picked some of the best stones for grounding. The moral of that sotry; buy what ever stone you want to buy on the day. Don't question it.

This weekend I went to this local healing fair and knew that I wanted to buy some yellow jasper. Unfortunatly there wasn't any there. So on Tuesday, after getting my Hep A, B, Typhoid and Rabies jabs (I still feel nauseous :( ) I headed here, a local restuarant and crystal shop (crazy combination I know, they also sell clothes!). They didn't have any yellow jasper either. However I did buy a load of other tiny stones, with the intent of making my self a sort of medicine bag type thing.

I picked up some Pyrite, Amethyst, Aventurine, Bloodstone and Lapis Lazuli. Last night I popped down to my spitual home and picked up some tiny little pebbles to go in it as well.
So far so good. Now I just have to cleanse them all, make something small and unobtrusive to put them in and find a small enough piece of obsidian to add to the haul.
Oh and some Yellow jasper, because I still want some! And a load of tiny quatrz shards as offerings for the various places I come across that deserve them. Why does everything end up being more work than you think?

I am sooooo busy organising stuff for my round the world, and my lovely jaunt to Norway next week, and my two days in an infant school as part of ongoing post-grad plans, and driving to Cardiff to purchase essentials for my round the world. Oh and working. And of course writting. I'm getting worried I won't be ready for June the 4th.

*yes that's write I don't go all 17th century and write it iwth a k. ha

Monday, 16 April 2007

Small steps

Today I went and did a ritual at my spiritual home. Fairly normal stuff for a pagan you might think. Well yes. But also no.
You see my spiritual home is a beautiful beach and not somewhere that I'd usually go to at night. I was attacked once, long ago, and even though I'm perfectly comfortable holding my own walking through any sort of major city (I lived in central London and some of its less salubrious edges for 3 years) I get nervous sometimes on my own in the wilds. Especially near the sea. I'm not complaining; everyone has their demons and mine are quieter than most. But I'm going around the world in just a few weeks. I shall be alone. I can't afford to be nervous there. So I knew I had to get over this one.
What better way than going to the place where I feel safest and most grounded? So I went, and did the ritual and in the gloaming my time on that beach was moving and fulfilling and I felt peaceful and calm. I even discovered a ready made stone circle in the sand right where I wanted to work. This was the right decision.
Of course I did get nervous getting back to the car on my way home and practically ran across the car park and nigh on dived in the car. But small steps right? And as small steps go, this is a pretty big one.

Sunday, 15 April 2007

Someone to hate.

Mostly I don't hate people. There's any number of people who I don't hate who have done me wrong in my life. But it would be dishonest of me to say that I don't hate. Like I hate my evil grandparents, my dad's folks, because it's the'r fault that my dad is so fucked up. Of course this desn't mean I'm a saint; if it wasn't for my evil granparents fucking up my dad then he wouldn't have such a fucked up relationship with me. There is one person who I hate though who it is mostly for me that I hate them. Me, the person who doesn't even manage to hate my abuser. My sister's boyfriend. Now admittedly the guy is a jerk, but that doesn't convey the depth of hatred I feel for this guy (he really honestly is a jerk as well, whenever I mention to people that know him that he's dating my sister they're like "that jerk! he's such a horrible nasty dick etc etc," so far nobody I've met (without passing judgement or commenting on him or anything) has had one nice thing to say about him. Apart from my sister. And my parents. Whom he has obviously brainwashed.
He smokes in the house. Which is so selfish. Even my seventy yo aunty was never allowed to smoke in the house. And he treats my sister like shit. Maybe she likes being belittled and demeaned in public, but personally I think its outrageous. She used to be so feisty and confident. Now she waits on him hand and foot. Literally. She gets up every morning to cook him breakfast.
But the real thing I can't stand; the way he treats me like crap. He's the same age as me, but acts like he has some sort of right to pass judgement over every aspect of my life, from the way I look to how I talk to my parents. Seriously I hate him so much that it hurts.
In general I'm a good person. In general I'm actually way more forgiving and easy going than most in fact. I just hate this one person with a passion. Everyone should hate someone, right?

Saturday, 14 April 2007

Well it seems I shall have to wait to find out if Newport is worth a visit; family stuff (ie. ill sister) prevented my depature. On the positive this means I have time to sort my round the world ticket. I'm about to pay to go round the world. Oh my god!

Newport Gwent, worth 6 hours on a train?

I am heading to Newport later today, a city that has absolutely nothing to recommend it, save for the fact that my nice ex-boyfriend who I am going to visit lives there. I only have time to go for the day (which is pretty stupid as it's a 3 hr train journey each way, but I am so stupidly busy, with loads of forms to fill out for my post-graduate plans next year (I'm already a graduate but what I was planning to do with my life, ie emigrate to Norway, didn't entirely work out so now I'm pursuing other more conventional post-grad options to fund my years as a struggling novelist (I wish there were still patrons. I currently live in a garret anyhow, albeit a garret amazingly decorated by my dad into looking like Dagobah.... (It was my brothers bedroom), I'm currently living with my rentals, which is a barrel of decaying fish that I would love to share with you another time, but to swing wildly back on point, a garret would be more creatively satisfying if I was being sponsored by some lecherous rich person.... ah well I shall have to settle for earning my own crust, to which end I am making plans for next year)
Anywho I'm so busy with all that and translation work and planning my epic journey around the world in 87 days (not quite the same ring as 80, but still around the world is the important thing...) that I can only take one day out for this trip to Newport. But, sweet journo ex boyfriend (who traveled to the Arctic by train to visit me; I inspire devotion obviously ;) ) aside, I think one day in Newport will be more than enough.

Friday, 13 April 2007

reason that my job is cool

today I am mostly learning about open heart surgery.... not because I'm a doctor but because I'm translating the notes from someones operation. How cool is that?
This has been a medical day all round really. Mostly because my younger sister has double pneumonia, a word I couldn't even spell yesterday, which has necessitated hospital trips and worrying. The hospital thing I'm not so good at, but the worrying? Sometimes I think worrying is my calling in life. I worry about the most ridiculous things. How many people do you know who plan what they would do in an emergency. Probably loads. But how many people's definition of emergency includes having no less than 5 different plans for alien invasion. It's the sort of thing I think about when lying in bed at night unable to sleep, which happens alot because I am an insomniac.
Yep. Definitely alot of crazy here. But come the invasion I know which of s is going to look stupid and it isn't going to be. Well it probably will be because I'll have overlooked something essential. But at least I'll have tried!

Wednesday, 11 April 2007

fuck the patriarchy

I got a book out from the library. The way we are now. Go have a look at it. I'll wait. There are no bisexuals in that book. There are no bisexuals, we don't exist. And when someone lives a lifestyle that's bi we assign them a gender role. On occasion I read the lesbian press. But I don't much because I'm a bisexual woman, not a butch or a femme; I don't fit into that world. I'm trying to exist in a world where there is no box for me.
I used to think it was easier to be a bi woman than a bi man. I think I've changed my mind. The only reason that it's easier is that supposedly you can pass as straight. Well its not that you pass as straight, you are straight. No-one takes you seriously; friends of all gender identities dismiss it as experimentation. And yes I know that bi guys get this treatment too, but the difference? They can continue experimenting for years, decades even indefinitely. Men have no duties other than to themselves. A woman has a duty to everyone but herself.
Today I brought the may issue of Cosmo (yes I know I read cosmo magazine and I'm a feminist. I promise to discuss the why's and wherefore's of this some other time.). In it there was an article on the "LUG" phenomenon; Lesbians until graduation. The entire premise of this phenomenon is that sure it's fine to experiment with your sexuality, but once you graduate you have to settle down, have babies, the whole caboodle of the patriarchies expectations for women. So you stop being a "lesbian" and become a "heterosexual."
NO! You don't. Whether you're living a lesbian or a heterosexual lifestyle that person is "bisexual" but as a bisexual female if you want all the things that the patriarchy has spent years telling us all that all women want, like stable relationships, children, acceptance in society, then you have to choose one way or the other. It doesn't really matter which.
To continue "experimenting" past the point where society sees you as a grown-up is to invite pariah status. Except they're not experimenting. Not really. They're living their life how they choose to in an ideal world where gender identity doesn't matter. But that can't be a valid lifestyle choice right? Because in the real world gender does matter right? Wrong.
And yes, I know this is not "news" as such. But people my age have been let down by the third wave of feminism. I grew up thinking that feminism was a dirty word. I was a politically active teenager who was afraid of how people would think of me if I called myself a feminist. And the patriarchy fights on. It restricts the choices of men and women the world over in order to perpetuate a stagnation that it sees as wholly natural, over looking the vast scientific and cultural evidence that tells us that actually this whole charade is just that- a charade.
Humanity has so much invested in its need for an "other" that we create one even where none exists. We put ourselves in boxes. Sometimes I think that categorisation is most basic function of society.
But it doesn't have to be. No more I've had enough. The patriarchy ends. In my life time anyway. Who's with me?

Friday, 23 February 2007

Setting sail

Everything has to start somewhere, right? Except obviously there's not such thing as a beginning, you're missing the back story, the context, but, like any good writer, I promise to show rather than tell, so this blog isn't going to begin with a vast vomit of self-congratulatory and revelatory expositional dialogue.
Tonight I'm heading to a poetry reading, I do that a lot. I'm busy trying to build a reputation for myself in the wilds of west wales. Not that a reputation out here in the sticks is probably going to do me much good, but its better than nothing!
The trouble I'm currently facing is what to perform. I've spent years writing my work, honing my voice, but I'm right at the beginning of my journey as a public performer. I don't yet know what goes down best with an audience.
A lot of my work is, like my life, pretty angsty. But short, and sweet. I decided I was just going to pick the things that I like best and run with that.
Of course instead I ended up writing a entirely new poem using a strangely random but utterly strict rhythmic system. (Going 8,7,8 8,7,8 8,8,6,5,8,8,6,5,8,7,8 ad infinitum) Because obviously I don't like me very much!
Well today I don't like me very much. A lovely friendship with much lovely potential ended last night and I'm vaguely sad about it. But only vaguely, which is why I don't like myself very much; I ought to feel terrible! But more on that another day!