Tuesday, 8 May 2012
I'm back at university after a wonderful Easter break. I had a great time travelling up and down the country, catching up with all my school-friends and generally staying as busy as possible. With the new medication I'm on, my oversleeping became more under control and I generally felt a lot better.
Now, two weeks into the new term, I'm studying for my upcoming exams. I'm stressed, naturally, but in general I'm not doing so badly.
My partner and I have split and we are now just friends. It's difficult living together and being this close when you are meant to be getting over each other. Having enough space isn't really a possibility right now, and won't be until the summer holidays. Still, we have a large amount of respect for each other and are being open and honest about our feelings, so it could be a whole lot worse.
I'm glad to report that things are nowhere near as grim as they were when I last posted. While my life is far from perfect, and I am still struggling, the improvement is excellent and I can't wait for all of this exam crap to be over so I can enjoy myself properly.
Saturday, 10 March 2012
Where do I start?
I’ve been meaning to write something about lad culture for a while, and, with all the recent controversy surrounding the website Unilad, I think now’s the time.
At university, I’ve come across my fair share of laddishness. I’ve been at drinking games where men who haven’t been able to consume a large enough amount of alcohol have been labelled ‘pussies’ and guys (and even girls) who have managed the feat have been awarded so-called ‘lad points.’ (n.b. lad-points can’t be sewn onto a sash or proudly displayed on a star-chart!) I’ve observed male acquaintances make comments about passing females, using the language of rape and conquest: ‘I would absolutely smash her.’ And I see women being objectified every single day around my university town: in student publications, on student union posters, even in my house.
The difficulty with lad culture, as the Unilad scandal has highlighted, is that the whole thing is infused with a certain amount of humour. Ask many a ‘lad’ whether he’s against equality for women, and the chances are that they’ll be surprised you even asked the question. Lads don’t think they’re being sexist. They’re not about to question my right to vote, or infringe on my everyday freedom (although my boyfriend once was asked why he ‘lets’ me go to an LGBT group. Yep, I admit it! I frequently go and have gang-bangs with the homosexuals behind his back! Seriously. Grow up.) They just think they’re having a fucking good laugh, enjoying their youth, not taking themselves too seriously. Life, for the lad, is all about ‘The Banter.’ And that’s what is so utterly frustrating.
‘The Banter,’ of course, is like The Force. It’s a higher power that we can use to strengthen our popularity, top up our lad-point totaliser, and summon fit girls when they get a whiff of our Lynx.
Criticise lad culture at your peril. You will be labelled ‘boring,’ ‘humourless,’ and told that you ‘just don’t get it.’ Everything you could possibly complain about can be explained away by ‘The Banter.’ Take issue with rape jokes? Oh come on, lighten up, you boring fucker. Worried about the objectification of women in Nuts or FHM? Chill out, the girls love getting their tits out. Concerned that drinking games are a bit dangerous? Stop being such a pussy.
The situation is pretty bleak for the average lad-surrounded girl at university. With the opportunities to criticise laddishness highly stunted by the fact that ‘The Banter’ will make everything you say seem fucking ridiculous, you haven’t really got much choice but to go along with it. This is why Female Chauvinist Piggery comes in. If you haven’t already, please pick up a copy of Ariel Levy’s book. It isn’t very long and it explains how girls are now colluding in their own oppression, by simultaneously acting like men (lad-points for that bitch in the office, what a boss!) and being sexy for men to further their careers and be successful in everyday life. Every wondered why you feel like you’ve got to get a Brazillian? Lad culture wants you waxed. Lad culture wants you to look like a glamour model. Lad culture wants you to titilate it. And you’re letting the whole of lad culture and humanity down if you don’t get that fucking Brazillian.
I’m with Caitlin Moran on this one. I want a grown woman’s vagina, not a child’s.
Oh lad culture, how do we get rid of you? Through ‘the banter’ you’ve become imbibed with Essence of Cockroach. I just hope I’m not alone in hating you. I appreciate a sensitive man. I appreciate a girl who doesn’t collude in her own oppression. I appreciate a bunch of fucking pussies, frankly, and as for real pussies: I like ‘em hairy.
I’m glad that Unilad has finally got the comeuppance it deserves, and I hope lads everywhere start to realise that ‘The Banter’ doesn’t really make you powerful. It just socially lubricates you around other lads, and makes your life a hell of a lot less deep and fulfilling for it. It saddened me that a girl who commented on a Guardian article by a girl at my university, was immediately told to ‘shut the fuck up, you slut’ by some arsehole who, no doubt, loves being a lad. It seems that this controversy won’t be enough to mark the beginning of the end of lad culture, and that is bad news for women, feminists and decent people everywhere.
Also posted on tumblr, from my feminist blog (which needs updating more regularly!)
I’m a slim girl. I always have been. Unfortunately, I’m also very conscious of every bit of excess fat on my body, and I am currently aiming to lose a bit of weight. Not too much, mind. Just enough to give me a bit more confidence and get rid of those flabby bits that every girl would rather the mirror didn’t show.
When I tell people that I’m trying to lose weight, I get a pretty discouraging reaction. “What?! You’re slim enough!” “You’re NOT fat.” “Haha, how ridiculous!” I like to explain that no, I am not fat. Yes, I am slim. But yes, I currently eat quite a lot of crap and don’t do enough exercise, so my optimum healthy body would look slimmer. It just would. It’s a fact.
I wonder why this is the case? Is it because obesity is on the rise, and I should be grateful for my slim figure? Or is because eating disorders are on the rise, and I should be careful not to slip into a dangerous cycle of starvation?
I think both matter. Weight, frankly, is a touchy issue. People get upset at the very mention of the idea. Moreover, I think the constant pressure to stay a certain size fuels anxiety in women. My friends, no doubt concerned about their own appearances, find it uncomfortable when I say I’m losing weight, because it draws attention to the fact that they’re not.
For an overweight woman, the pressure to lose weight is everywhere. “I lost five stone!” glowing women on the front of gossip magazines proclaim. Diets are everywhere, and you can’t turn on the TV without seeing a weight-loss advertisement of some kind, whether for weight-loss pills or even meals that will be delivered to your door. Hollywood and the fashion industry are a prominent reminder that your fatness is somehow your biggest flaw.
For a thin woman, seeing the same images as your overweight sisters is only going to fuel the pressure to maintain the thinness with age. The message is to cling to your most valuable asset: your tiny frame.
Size, however, should only be relevant in terms of health. If we’re too thin or too fat, we lack energy for all the things we do in our busy modern lives. Just because your friend is thinner than you does not mean she’s healthier. We all know girls who can eat like horses and stay thin, but why should we applaud that as a virtue? What’s wrong with having a bit of curve? I eat, and it stops me from being skin-and-bone. My body is well-nourished. So what if it’s not a size 6 (US 2)?
So why I am I trying to lose weight? I want to be at my optimum health levels, and I want to feel confident about myself. But is it the most important thing in the world? No. I will freely admit that I have more hang-ups about my body than I would like, especially as a feminist. But I know that it’s what’s on the inside that counts, no matter how cringey that sounds.
So next time a slim friend tells you she’s losing weight, don’t criticise her.
This was posted on tumblr ages ago. I thought I'd share it here.