The Women Who Kill Lions

I watched “The Women Who Kill Lions” on Netflix for inspiration for a new play. As a vegetarian it surprised me that I wasn’t horrified at what these women did. Instead it made me think deeply about how we size up our lives in relation to other’s; how each of us define ourselves in the choices that work best for us.

As a passionate vegetarian, I do not enjoy the thought of killing an animal for sport, or for meat, or clothes. I don’t feel like I have a right ingrained into me, by virtue of being on ‘top of the food chain’, and also defy any hierarchies that exist to engender any type of injustice.

However, whilst I watched this documentary I was struck by the humanity of the women that were being filmed. One was a gorgeous blonde woman, and the mother of two kids, and the other a beautiful single woman with a famous-in-their-neighbourhood pitbull. For them, hunting was part of what their parents had taught them, and thus their culture. Culture is a defining feature for a lot of us in how we live our lives.

Who’s worse, the hunters or those that gorge McDonalds?

We kill for food. As a country and as a society we kill, torture, abuse and force feed animals for food very day. This includes:

  • over 10 million pigs
  • over 15 million sheep
  • 16 million turkeys
  • 14 million ducks and geese
  • 975 million broiler chickens
  • 40 million so-called ‘spent’ hens
  • over 2.6 million cattle
  • 4.5 billion fish
  • 2.6 billion shellfish

These animals are lost in the statistics. In the household of one of the mother of the two huntresses, I noticed that the blonde mother encouraged her kids to kill their own meat and spoke in a way that created an atmosphere of respect around the dinner table for the animals they were eating: Their plates were not filled with the product of a distracted walk to Aldi followed by a fumbling at the counter for a crumpled £5 note; they worked hard and gave the animal the respect it ultimately deserved.

It may sound controversial, but these women spoke of the meat on their plates as they really were: Animals. The animals which died for their meat were not lost amongst the supermarket rhetoric of “choice cuisine” and “hamburgers”, rather they spoke with a glimmer of reverence in their eyes for the beast they slayed, and showed more respect for the Animal Kingdom in that one meal than the entire UK does when they pay £2 for a burger at McDonalds without any thought of the panicked, eye-bulging chicken that was hung upside down in a slaughter house for them.

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How many of us have justified eating meat by saying we would kill the animal if they could?

What was truly interesting for me to learn, is that alot of the game reserves in Africa will designate the animal the hunter can shoot, because they fit a certain criteria. That criteria is that perhaps the animal has been shut out the group because a new male is in charge, or perhaps it is a female that can not bear any more children. For me this is essentialising and I do not think animals should need to fit into a man-made criteria, made by men playing God to be able to live. However the meat is then donated to a nearby village to eat, and I can only assume it provides meals for a long time amount of time.

My goal here is not to condone hunting, but to expose everyday hypocrisy. I do not expect the world to go vegetarian, nor should they. Life and death exist together, and killing for food is an acknowledged method for survival. I am vegetarian because of my own beliefs, and if I lived any other way I would be doing a disservice to myself- if I convinced someone else to go Vegetarian, I would only be happy if that was something that was a truth for them, just as it was for me. The world is such a huge place that it is ridiculous to think we are all going to have the same values and beliefs, and yet because of social media and the internet we all get angry when people don’t.

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Because all of us spend so much time on the internet, we are trying to be one, big society now in cyberspace. We will see a picture of a woman smiling next to a Lion they have just killed, and start sending death threats and slating her and her children and calling her by slurs instead of her name, but before the internet you would probably never have met this woman, because she is from a different culture where, if you had visited, you would have been the odd one out.

It’s a difficult pill to swallow, but our beliefs are only better for ourselves, not for others.

I have a new respect for hunters, especially women hunters as they get double the abuse from old men who don’t think it is their place, and from men who think they are ‘trying to be men’. Please watch the documentary on Netflix and see what opinion you form.

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These women got an incredible amount of death threats and hate thrown at them from the internet, and it got so bad at one point that the woman with kids that the camera crew were following had to ask the team to stop filming her due to her deterioration in mental health. There seems to be an incredible amount of hypocrisy going on in this world, and I hope this post finds anyone who feels they have a past-time, a belief, a hobby or a faith which people are hurling slurs at them for because trust me: These slur hurlers will have just as many vices as the rest of us, and will be the sort of people who alienate people from their lives because of their inability to regard other’s feelings as important as their own.

 

 

 

 

 

A response to “Rape Culture in Veganism”

In response to: KD Angle-Traegner’s piece entitled ‘Rape Culture in Veganism’.

As a young woman in a frightfully patriarchal world, I have thankfully never been sexually abused, or made subject of a sexual predator’s attack. Recently it has been disclosed that Harvey Weinstein has been inviting young and vulnerable actresses back to his hotel room, on the pretense of ‘private parties’ and wanking himself off in front of young women in the basements of restaurants, all on the back of him being ‘Hollywood royalty.’ It’s incredible that only 50 years ago Bill Cosby was doing the same thing, drugging, knocking out and raping women who came to him as mentees. As the values and norms of a patriarchal culture are slowly being exposed and denied access to normal life in 2017, it’s important to not only look at the normalised abuse of women, but also the normalised abuse of animals.

KD Angle-Traegner’s piece ‘Rape Culture in Veganism’ is a thought provoking blog about Rape Culture in our society, herself having been sexually violated, at 18 years old. She calls out the rape culture of normalising rape and the culture of excusing the yes, normally male abusers, by paying off the victims with hush-hush money. KD Angle-Traegner goes on then one step further, and questions when the word ‘rape’ is used in other contexts:

The term rape is frequently used by activists to describe the process of artificially inseminating animals- most commonly, cows.  This dairy is rape analogy makes me cringe every time I read it.  That’s the point.  It is used to paint a violent and horrifying picture of violation- one so gut-wrenching that it alters the way someone thinks about consuming dairy.

But let me ask, is using the dairy-rape analogy dismissive of what rape really is and does it actually promote rape culture?  Using rape analogies to further the vegan agenda uses the suffering of rape victims

Carol J. Adams, an American writer, feminist and animal rights activist explores this lexical relationship in her chapter ‘The Rape of Animals, The Butchering of Women.’ She however proves that just how activists of animals appropriate the word rape with metaphors, so too do feminists in theirs.

Carol refers to the structure of ‘overlapping but absent referents that links violence against women and animals.’ Below is a diagram I have made for easier comprehensibility.

the basent referent

Carol explains how through butchering, animals become absent referents. For animals to become meat, they must be dead. If they are alive, they cannot be meat. In this way animals are forgotten as sentient beings, and instead must be thought of as things put on this planet for meat-eaters to eat, to be then turned into meat. Animals are thus made absent through language, and and are then further made absent when we refer to pieces of meat and choice cuts as not butchered animals, “but cuisine”.

The same happens, Carol suggests, in our descriptions of cultural violence against women. When a woman is raped or grabbed or sexually dominated without permission the abuser must see the woman as not a sentient, fellow human being, but rather as an object that exists purely to fulfill their sexual needs.

I have tried to show this visually with the above diagrams: Both women and cows as they are in reality and in step 1 are forgotten, and rather for rape to happen and for meat to be put on our plates as pictured in step 3, they must be thought of as purely in terms of step 2.

“Through the structure of the absent referent, patriarchal values become institutionalized.”

In response to KD Angle-Traegner’s piece I can see why she gets upset when the rape experiences of women are used as a “vehicle for describing other oppression.” As Carol puts it:

Rape, in particular, carries such potent imagery that the term is transferred from the literal experience of women and applied metaphorically to other instances… such as the ‘rape’ of the earth in ecological writings… Women, upon whose bodies actual rape is most often committed, become the absent referent when the language is used metaphorically. These terms recall women’s experiences but not the woman.

Carol’s points sympathies with what KD Angle-Traegner puts forward, and Carol recognizes that it is exploitative to use the experience of one group’s oppression and appropriate it to others.

However, Carol points to the language employed by rape victims to describe how they felt, such as ‘he made me feel like a piece of meat’, as too appropriated from an oppressed group.

Rape has a different social context for women than for other animals. So, too, does butchering for animals. Yet feminists among others, appropriate the metaphor of butchering without acknowledging the originating oppression of animals that generates the power of the metaphor.

So KD Angle-Traegner, your point still stands, and women’s experiences should not be penciled down as a metaphor to be used over and over again as just a way to describe the other experiences of other groups. But at the same time we must see the similarity in the way women appropriate the metaphor of the meat industry to best explain how the men who abused them made them feel: ‘He made me feel like nothing- like a mere piece of meat for him to do with what he wanted.’

Perhaps then it’s time we looked at the patriarchal structure of society and realise this cross over in language is more than just lexical coincidence.

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Is meat really necessary? Why is it considered manly for a man to have a steak? Why are we being sold these ideas? In a next blog I’ll be exploring the link between Harvey Weinstein as seeing women as just walking vaginas, and why meat-eaters see cows as just steaks with legs. 

Header photo credit: http://chiaralascura.com/en/

Angus, thongs and the Perfect Patriarchy

Q: What does Sex and the City, Angus Thongs and Bridget Jones all have in common?

A:  These popular texts normalise post-feminist gender anxieties so as to re-regulate young women by means of the language of personal choice. 

Let me translate that. (This is not a joke to tell at a dinner party either.)

I have no problem with these movies, however I have recently realised that I do not want to be Carrie Bradshaw (not that I ever wanted to be) and that the women in these movies are not role models, but rather figures who are still on the way to becoming the women we should want to become.

Now hear me out before running defiantly to your Sex and the City poster, crying out with rage; Robbie is still ridiculously fit in Angus Thongs- you are not required to renounce your love of him either.

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In 2017 it’s easy to get caught up in the Post- Feminism hype. Post Feminism is the school of thought that we are done with Feminism, and that Feminism as a movement has been consigned to the past. Perhaps some of us still agree that we still need equal rights and equal pay, but to identify as a feminist as a 21st century woman is social and sexual suicide. It’s true- before I started my module in Feminist Killjoys (even the module name is indicative of modern day associations with the feminism), I saw Feminism as an outdated, hairy legged phenomena.

I think we have changed alot since these movies were released: Angus Thongs and Sex and the City in 2008, and Bridget Jones in 2001, and if those movies were released today there would be alot more criticism.

What’s so wrong with these movies then?

Answer? They push, alongside the neo-liberal 21st century notion that the ‘Young Woman’ is a free agent, that young women are free to make their own decisions, and most importantly, free of the burden of Feminism.

The women in the aforesaid movies are examples of the women society conditioned us to become, in direct correlation with the denunciation of Feminism.

HEAR. ME. OUT.

First lets tackle Neo-Liberalism.

Why have structure when you can have it all?

Neo-liberalism is a political theory that feeds into the thought that we are each our own agents. We are individuals rather than a responsible collective, and we are each responsible for ourselves and our decisions. This means that shows like the X-factor have flourished; each of us can make it, and each of us can become stars! Our potential is unlimited as long as we take it upon ourselves to get there. This has also meant that the safety one would have had by living in the community that existed centuries ago has been lost- no more can we expect a government to support us, guide us or a sovereign to tell us what to do. More and more we are made to account for our own lives and what we do with them. However as the old structures of social class fade away and lose their grip…”individuals are increasingly called upon to invent their own structures.”

They must do this internally and individualistically, so that self-monitoring practices (the diary, the life plan, the career pathway) replace reliance on set ways and structured pathways. Self-help guides, personal advisors, lifestyle coaches and gurus, and all sorts of self-improvement TV programmes provide the cultural means by which individualisation operates as a social process.
Now let’s look at what this means for young Women.

You can do what you want, so why would you be a Feminist?

After Post-Feminism, it became ‘cool’ to be liberal in terms of porn, strip clubs and sexuality. The rigidity of First and Second wave Feminists who have since become associated with hairy legs and being butch were mocked whilst relishing in this new era of agency for young women.

In modern times McRobbie points out that young women have been allowed to breathe a sigh of relief, “Thank goodness it is permissible, once again, to enjoy looking at the bodies of beautiful women.” This can be seen in advertisements which are overtly sexual, for perfume, lingerie and for all types of products. Even the show, ‘Naked Attraction’ is ‘hip’ and ‘cool’ in it’s admission that it is ok to judge people on their bodies alone.

McRobbie then explains how these sorts of shows and advertisements expect to provoke feminist outrage so they can use that to generate publicity. In this way the young are separated from the old, and the younger female viewer, “along with her male counterparts, educated in irony and visually literate, is not made angry by such a repertoire. She appreciates its layers of meaning; she gets the joke.”

With the music videos of Nikki Minaj, Miley Cyrus and other provocative dancers “the shadow of disapproval is introduced [usually by the older generation]… only instantly to be dismissed as belonging to the past, to a time when feminists used to object to such imagery.”

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Thus despite the new found freedom, young women are called upon to be silent, “to withhold critique, to count as a modern sophisticated girl, or indeed this withholding of critique is a condition of her freedom. ”

Bridget Jones says no to Feminism and Yes to freedom.

Girls must have a lifeplan. They must become more reflexive in regard to every aspect of their lives, from making the right choice in marriage, to taking responsibility for their own working lives, and not being dependent on a job for life or on the stable and reliable operations of a large-scale bureaucracy which in the past would have allocated its employees specific, and possibly unchanging, roles.

Bridget Jones is a 30 something year old, enjoying the benefits of being able to live alone safely and independently without scrutiny from society; however she is also bereft with the anxieties that come along with having to find a partner all on her own, and with the weight of the knowledge that if she doesn’t it is all her fault.

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With the burden of self-management so apparent, Bridget fantasies tradition. After
a flirtatious encounter with her boss (played by Hugh Grant) she imagines herself in a white wedding dress surrounded by bridesmaids, and the audience laughs loudly
because they, like Bridget, know that this is not how young women these days are meant to think.
Feminism has intervened to say no, you must not have these conventional desires. You do not need a man. 
It is then, a relief to the audience to escape this censorious politics that is Feminism and freely enjoy the film.
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Thus feminism is invoked in order that it is relegated to the past.
The characters found in Sex and the City, Alley McBeal, Angus Thongs and Perfect Snogging and Bridget Jones’s diary are all different. However they are each confident enough to voice their anxieties over finding a man, whilst at the same time they enjoy themselves sexually without fear of sexual double standards or judgements. They can each make a living by themselves and do not depend on a man- any shame, McRobbie says, they anticipate in not finding a husband is countered by their open sexual confidence.

Are these films really ‘anti‘ Feminist?

McRobbie acknowledges that to say these films are anti-feminist might be ‘heavy handed’. However,
Relations of power are indeed made and re-made within texts of enjoyment and rituals of relaxation and abandonment. These young women’s genres are vital to the construction of a new “gender regime,” …and they endorse wholeheartedly what Rose calls “this ethic of freedom.”
However, these films are using irony and humour to relegate Feminism to the past, and gives permission for the Young Women viewers to pine for a man and relish in the ice-cream indulgent sessions when crying over a love life. Something it insinuates one could not do as a Feminist. Young Women have all this freedom now so why would they give it all up to go back to times ‘before the vote’?
In essence, as stated before:

These popular texts normalise post-feminist gender anxieties so as to re-regulate young women by means of the language of personal choice.

Therefore I would say that these films, whilst they fuel girl power and make women feel connected to each other and heard, they do not succeed in Feminism. Sitting around and moaning about boys isn’t going to make any political differences in a world, especially in one that is still so unequal to women. It’s almost like these films are sweets given to us by the patriarchy in order to distract us from political Feminism, and the gross inequalities all over the world.

By enjoying these movies and feeling empowered by them, we reinforce for ourselves that we have succeeded. Feminism has succeeded and is no longer needed.  These films were made a time when young women did have personal choice, yet that choice has chosen that we must leave Feminism at the door; in order to enjoy what society has ‘given us’.

We have changed since these movies were made!

I do love Angus Thongs, and when I first watched it I laughed and identified. This protagonist loved boys nearly as much as I did! Though last year when watching it with housemates we were astounded at how bad the message was for young girls: Get a boyfriend, and that is the be all and end all. Nowadays we are watching Angus Thongs and Sex and the City 10 years after they were released though. Since the early 2000s we have developed Feminism back to how it was once thought of.

However for those who think we do not need Feminism anymore, or perhaps not to the same extent as what we once did, I would suggest that they should watch these films but in a new light. These films are enjoyable for the time they were produced, and show our situation post-feminism, but Feminism must not be forgotten as a movement or relegated to the past because of the ‘freedoms’ these shows exhibit.

Do we not think there will be a time when we don’t have to worry ourselves with these sorts of anxieties and that we will have an agency one day on par with the men we chase? Do we not think and believe that one day we will use our sexual freedom, not in defiance to society’s expectations, but rather in accordance?  The situation we are in is only half way to where we need to get, and these sorts of films should be enjoyed as products of a time, not as images of our future or as projections of the sort of women we wish to be.

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DJing as a right-handed person.

Now before you drop the mic in disbelief and contempt towards any person that could ask such a ridiculous question, I beg that you consider the world that we live in. It is not so uncommon that people like to pigeon hole activities and jobs; as well as instruments and sports. We still live in a world where we like to segregate willy nilly.

I was raised and brought up in a wonderful world where I believed I could do anything  I wanted. In 1st year of my undergraduate degree I stumbled across in my mashed up and free willy state of the time the fit, fabulous and frivolous world of djing. It really was incredible, and I witnessed this guy play all his favourite songs, get everyone gassed and watched everyone pat him on the back, wide-eyed and with the force of twenty cars as if he’d made up that magical number. And he had, he’d used the bass of one song with the melody of another, and the music was so earth shatteringly happy (it was garage I later found out , soon to house some of my favourite dancing songs) that I swore I would inhabit it for myself.

It was at this moment I knew I wanted to be one, to stand up there and be the shit for an hour, whilst making everyone else feel like the shit for an hour- we’d all be the shit for an hour.

Who knew me being right-handed would draw so much attention? I kind of feel sorry for the lefties who just spun with emotionless accuracy, probably secretly feeding off the good vibes through their porous fingers or mini ear tentacles. Unless they were hot everyone just left them to it. When I get up, everyone wants to get involved.

“Omg you’re a right-handed Dj that’s sooo cool!!! You don’t see many right handed DJs there should be wayyy more”

Fellow right-handers would tell me they wanted to DJ but when I encouraged them to  most said maybe and I don’t think they did.

All the attention was fun for a while; I was representing the right-handed community by doing something they could do as well, but hey I figured, I got there first. Safe. Maybe they thought only lefties could play because that’s all they’d seen. I tried to tell them it doesn’t really matter which hand is your stronger hand, it’s just pushing a circle and twiddling some knobs.

I measured my hands. I couldn’t see an obvious winner. A time went by when I’d Dj with each hand for 10 mins each, but I just ended up getting confused and paying more attention to which hand was doing what, so I’d let a loop play for 20 minutes and have to echo it out on a save.

I don’t think the rats noticed.

It got strange over the next few years, I wasn’t allowed into Parklife because the guy didn’t trust me that I was DJIng. I think he could see me holding my headphones with my right hand.

Then this guy came in my age, with all his mates with this big shirt saying ‘Leftie & Proud’ and the guy let him in. It took another right-handed security guard to come and knock him over the head and let me in.

Then I was djing at 02:31, in the Butterz room, and a mixed up geezer said I was hot but hotter because I was a right-handed DJ. I felt sorry for all my right-handed mates who didn’t know all they had to do was learn to mix to get a date with this runny nosed, skinny, white polo-nosed stud.

So, if you’re right-handed and want a bit of easy attention, learn to mix. But do it quick, because when people finally clock that being right-handed makes no difference to being left-handed in djing, the world will move on. But I’m sure then we can find something else that’s totally normal if a leftie does it but totally amazing if a right-hander does it. Sometimes I pity lefities, I really do. What chance do they have of impressing anybody?

 

Why Feminism is NOT called “Equalism”

“Why isn’t Feminism just called equalityism if it’s for equal rights?”

This is a question that gets brought up an awful lot in conversation and discussion with friends and family when talking about the validity of Feminism in the 21st Century.

I never had an answer for this question, and used to always agree and say “Indeed, I concur, why don’t we make it more ‘inclusive’ and refer to the movement and equalism?”

Though the more I have read essays by Feminist theorists, watched Ted Talks and generally read up on all different types of oppressed groups movements, It’s become more coherent to me why it is called ‘Feminsism’ and not ‘Humanism, or Equalityism’.

This question needs to be answered in two sections:

1) Why people, and in particular men see the word ‘Feminism’ as a direct translation of ‘Fuck men and all penises’ rather than ‘Gender equality for men and women’ which is what it actually means.

2) Why Feminism won’t change it’s name, even though some people can’t handle it beginning with ‘fem’.

1 ) Feminism doesn’t imply ‘females hate men’ – that’s an inference made by men and women who believe the stereotype that feminists hate men already.

Feminists hate the patriarchy– that’s different to men. Men who endorse the patriarchy however, yeah they’d hate feminists because the patriarchy endorses the domination of women by men.

The problem with the stereotype of the ‘Feminist’ as someone who hates men, is that it strengthens and gives a voice to a false narrative that destroys the feminist cause. The feminist cause is pro-equality, not anti-men.

This works in men’s favour too- we don’t want to always have priority over who gets custody of kids in divorce battles in court: men, hello, that’s an injustice that will be abolished with the support of feminism! We don’t WANT to be thought of as just mothers whose purpose in life is to have kids. We are not reproductive machines. Men will benefit from Feminism, so the stereotype that we hate men needs to stop being spread as click bait to rile people up.

2) Why is it not called Humanism then?

Because females are the oppressed minority here, and Feminism is advocating for women’s rights so Women can be brought up to where men are in society. It’s the same reason, as shown by vlogger Steve Shives in his fabulous short video on why it’s called Feminism and not Humanism, that it’s called the Gay rights movement; we want to give gay people the same rights that heterosexual people already have.

 “You attain gender equality by advocating for the rights of the underprivileged gender.”

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Vlogger Steve Shives uses this as an example as why it is called Feminism and not ‘Humanism’

 

Feminism means: “the advocacy of women’s rights on the ground of the equality of the sexes.”

Gay Rights means: “the legal and civil rights of homosexuals, especially the right to be treated without discrimination.”

Black Lives Matter: “campaigns against violence and systemic racism towards black people

Vegans: “Veganism is a way of living which seeks to exclude, as far as is possible and practicable, all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose.”

None of these movements promote themselves over others, or say they are better than others. That is an anxiety generated by those who think they are ‘threatened’ by these movements. 

Women should have equal rights. Gay people should have equal rights. Black people should have equal rights. Animals should be treated humanely. 

The only reason why these movements exist is due to the fact that at the moment, there is an incredible amount of injustice going on.

The reason I have included Veganism in this list, probably controversially, is because I think all living beings deserve compassion and empathy. I think that the idea that to be a vegan or vegetarian is ‘weird’ and will make you ‘sick’ and ‘pale’ and ‘skinny’ is directly linked to the false narrative that compassion ‘disables you’. That in someway if you are caring you are disabled. This feeds into the discussion of why men are expected to hide their feelings, and ‘man up’, that somehow to care is unmanly. Compassion has been branded as a female trait, sensitivity has been awarded to females and wanting to keep animals from cruelty has been deemed ‘sentimental’.

This can be seen in the fact that the caring roles such as nurses, teachers, care-givers are all seen as womanly and lesser than the roles more habituated by men.

There are links between all these movements, so though feminism is for equality of the sexes, it also gives males back their ‘rights’ to feelings and allows them to enjoy a tofu burger on a BBQ without losing ‘man points’.

Compassion is not specific to females.

We need Feminism to raise awareness of the false stereotypes that gender inequality brings, but Feminism instead has been branded falsely with the fact it ‘hates men’.

Until people see the compassion behind the movements listed above, they will only see the anxieties generated by the prominent groups who feel that they will in some way be threatened if the minorities attain equal rights.

Feminism is called feminism because Females are the oppressed group here. We are not saying we are better than men, rather we are saying the opposite: that in some aspects we are still treated like lesser beings with lesser rights- men should be grateful they don’t need a movement to fight for their rights.  

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Common decency has been lost to those that rally against ‘PC’

Nowadays, people are getting more and more het up about political correctness, and how it’s stifling our right to offend in public. I think this is just another symptom of an overly individualistic and entitled society of people, not just of my generation but of all. There has never been a time when we were ‘allowed’ to offend, we just used to say what we wanted and we just dealt with the social repercussions that came directly from that person if they wanted to pull us up on our comment. Is it really so wrong that we live in a society now that is calling those people out for being dicks?

When you’re in a social setting, and you don’t know those around you, it’s really just common courtesy to be mindful of what you say. We’ve all been there in that situation when someone says something offensive- and often incredibly so. If you correct them, is that PC gone mad, or is it just the right thing to do by others?

A while back I was at the gym thai boxing the shit out of my abs, (still waiting for them to stay) and someone made a joke about the instructor being worse than Hitler. As a jewish girl who has grown up with the knowledge that just under a 100 years ago 6 million jews were killed in the most brutal fashion, a number I could easily have been a part of myself, I had to stop when I heard this. It wasn’t so much the content, though this sort of comment is incredibly offensive and backwards; it was the fact this guy had said it infront of about 15 people he didn’t really know. Sure he’s seen us all weekly, and we’ve had banter and whatever, but in no way does he know that none of us are Jewish or take special offence; in fact in no way does he know that no one may have grandparents who were in the Holocaust! (I know people my age who have relations who were in concentration camps.)

Maybe he was saying it to try to get a laugh and decided he couldn’t without going for the shock factor. Or maybe I was channelling PC gone mad, and just shouldn’t hang out with them if I find them offensive? Should I have taken such deep offence to a statement made clearly just so people would pay them attention?

Because PC certainly has gone crazy; disallowing certain play ground slides and fixtures in Schools because of Health and Safety and changing well-known fairytale characters, such as the 7 dwarfs to more ‘PC’ appropriate names such as ‘vertically challenged people’ could be just cotton balling our kids. Even the Jewish Primary School I went to as a kid went a bit nuts, when, with the employment of a new Head Teacher, it was decided Fathers weren’t allowed to watch their children at Sports day because they could potentially look at the other children inappropriately!

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But just because PC has gone mad it doesn’t mean that we should throw caution to the wind, courtesy to shitter, and wipe our asses with other people’s emotions and experiences! There is PC gone mad, but then there’s PC for a reason.

Political Correction is just a modern name for Common Courtesy.

Yes kids used to be able to run around in fields without having to wear high-vis jackets, and yes we may live in a society which is obsessed with filling the quotas for women, blacks, pinks and greens rather than employing people solely by merit; but we have PC for a reason. We FUCKED it in the past. So maybe it is time all the other colours apart from white had a push start in life. (This is a completely different can of worms though, which I’m not going into right now.)

PC has gone mad in it’s censorship, but that doesn’t mean we as people have been violated in some way, and it certainly doesn’t mean we now should push back by offending as many people as possible whilst waving a made up waiver stipulating it’s our right to.  Now people are being called out on it, it’s suddenly all they’ve ever wanted to do and an obligation on the Bill of Rights. Nothing’s changed, society is just being more mindful of others; when did these people ever utilise this ‘right’ before without being thought of as a bit of a knob?

People have always been knobs for making offensive comments in public, now we’re just labelling them as such.

Of course when we’re with friends and we know each other’s boundaries it’s fun to tease and exploit stereotypes in the name of fun. However, just because a ‘sandwich’ joke gets someone a laugh from their intensely feminist friend who knows they’re just teasing her, the same joke can be incredibly dated and backwards looking if said in a seminar or even on the train with 50 other people listening in.

This whole notion that we have “the right to offend if we have the right to be offended”  is the most entitled thing I’ve ever heard.

In the realm of Humour however, it’s a different story.  I find lots of offensive stuff funny, in fact, I was just on google looking for a picture for this article and found all the offensive pictures on Google images hilarious. (Just type in offensive to google and see what comes up.) HOWEVER – they’re done tastefully, and they’re well done: In the realm of humour, offending people has it’s own special territory, and some people swear by humour in it’s ability to take away the power of troubling issues or from figureheads.

What I’m talking about it is not the solo act of voluntarily looking through pictures on google however, but rather the communal arena in which offensive comments can be made crudely and offensive jokes told badly.

So let’s stay mindful. Don’t offend people because you think it’s ‘your right’, because it isn’t. And neither is it mine. We live in a society where people have all had different experiences and different things will run deep for each of us.

Unless you’re Frankie Boyle sit down.

If someone wants to offend someone else, then all they will have accomplished is offending someone: they won’t have fulfilled some divine prophecy of humanity.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Participation Medals- Do we need them?

So with a lot of heat, tears and discussion, I just debated on the phone the importance/need for Participation medals for our kids. (Not my Kids, obvz)

I was very tired, and got very emotional so that tears sprung thus. However, even though it’s not exactly a personal issue for me; I never suffered from the trauma as a kid from not being given enough participation medals. However, I did get very involved in my declarations for niceness and encouragement in the competitive sphere. My nemesis over the phone maintained the stiff position that kids should be rewarded according to their achievement, and reasoned that kids nowadays get an extortionate amount of participation medals, whereas we only got given a handful growing up which is why it wasn’t harmful for us.

It’s a very interesting debate; should we reward children every time they take part in a competition even if they don’t win?

I started my tirade against the cold-hearted in society by voting yes.

Participation medals are crucial in instilling the correct values growing up, because they reward children for all the other important aspects of competing in an event. When a child enters a competition or a race, their’s so much more that they gain other than just winning; the confidence boost, the thrill of competing, and the character development they gain from taking part, winning or losing. There’s more to get out of a race or competition than winning, and children should be encouraged to see that. Their mind should not be so focused on winning that when they lose it, is as if the sky has crashed like a tonne of disappointment on their heads. A participation medal shows a child that they should be rewarded for taking part, and hopefully encourage them to take part in other competitions that perhaps don’t have participation medals; then even if they don’t win it doesn’t matter; that’s not the only thing (despite the saying.)

I don’t think handing out participation medals demotivates kids for future life either, but then, we weren’t given them in excess.  We want to encourage kids, not demoralise. If you never give kids a participation medal then they’ll think that winning is all that counts, and then if they don’t think they have a chance of winning, what would motivate them then?

The very tired and sore ear down the phone voted no however.

I was countered with that it is damaging for children to always be given participation medals, and that kids nowadays were put out and disappointed when, even after trying their hardest and winning, they were given the same prize as the loser; ergo, the loser felt like they didn’t deserve their medal and the winner felt cheated out of a proper and celebrated victory.

The point does stand; if you reward kids all the time for however well they do, children will start to feel slighted, or confused at how the system works. They also made the point that a participation medal shouldn’t be necessary in making a child feel rewarded, for the thrill and buzz of competing should be sufficient, negating the need for a medal as supplement.

However, in the same way as the argument can be made that taking part should be a reward in itself, one could counter and say, well why isn’t winning a reward in itself? Why do you have to be the only one to be rewarded for that to count?

It’s important to reward those for winning to boost their understanding of how merit works, but on the other hand it’s vital to show kids that there’s so much more to life than winning.

We need to give kids permission to fail.

Of course on that note, we could turn the coin around and say maybe giving kids loads of participation medals means we’re not giving them permission to fail; for woe be the kid that fails, instead we hastily thrust them a participation medal!

It’s very interesting. I’m not sure which side I agree with.

I think kids should be given participation medals every once in a while, to get everyone involved and show them all that there’s more to competitions than winning, and that they can be fun and rewarding in other ways. I do think events like Sports day, and Poetry Recital competitions in Primary Schools though should all have medals strictly for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd. Some competitions should be strictly meritocracy friendly, and adhere to a first place for winners rule, but would it hurt to involve all kids once in a while, in a knees up shingdig where everyone gets a participation medal? I don’t think so.

 

 

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Prince Phillip and MC Grindah: A story

Born and bred at the Pets at Home shop in the far away land of Selly Oak, located in the small retail park known as Battery retail Park, there was heard a distinct rustling beneath the cotton and odour control bedding; two baby rats, who would come to be known affectionately as MC Grindah and Prince Phillip, were taking their first baby breaths of the Selly Oak air.

A rat named desire

I knew I wanted to name my boys after the two traits I looked for in a guy (at the time- my tastes have matured since then): Their ‘roadness’ and their ‘gentlemenliness’.

I thought road guys were fit, in particular MC Grindah, and I thought Prince Phillip was the hottest prince that Disney had to offer. The little men in my life saw to both needs, as furry and unintelligible in the English language as they are.

Into the house and into our hearts

Having made my room in 2nd year as messy and eclectic in shit as possible, the obvious addition was to be two little fun loving rodents, known to my closest as tiny harbingers of the Black Death.

These two little boys summoned love however, when you were around them, and regular lickings instead of death, destruction and disease. They smashed all sterotypes and proved all haters wrong.

Shannon, my old housemate was the first true advocate of the pair, and she jumped up and down in pure ecstacy after I blithely suggested making the number of mammals that took up residency in our house an even four.

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They started out small, and became large- like most good dreams.

They became synonymous with hope, in an era defined by the strife of many oppressed minority groups. I too would start the plight for rats, and campaign tirelessly by thrusting them forcefully at the world, and show them off as the clean and intelligent pets they were; not to be feared, but rather loved.

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Housing

As tiny as they were, their first and only house was an £80 mansion, (no Jacqueline Wilson sob story for them) that could have fit 4 rats or 2 ferrets. Party on Wayne.

I knew one day I might breed them, (that option is now gone seeing as I let slip my desire at Pets at Home, and was swiftly told that the idea was awful and I might as well euthanise all the other baby rats in care already.)

I knew that their lives had to be fun, spacious and ‘free range’. Sewers no more; my rats had a hammock, a water feeder, and a wooden house. The Uprising had begun.

Teenage Years

They’ve been to one party over their lifetime, (so far) and I told them, albeit misleadingly, that they could potentially meet their lovers.  Excited, MC Grindah put on his roadest outfit, and Prince Phillip picked out his sharpest suit; Prince Phillip wanted to bring his sword but I told him to leave it.

Although my mates didn’t really give them the warmest reception, bar Will, there were a few pingers about who gave them so much love that it made up for half the house being freaked out by ‘their tail’. It did get a bit late though and we crossed back about half an hour after we came, jarring MC Grindah who was about to be handed the mike.

Stardom

Obviously we had many photoshoots over the years, and included here a few- note my fabulous new hair; we can all be models is my motto.

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Candid

An MC and a Gentlemen were raised in my room.

They were raised with love,

They were raised without the bat,

They defied all expectations and refused to believe what the world told them they were- they defined themselves on their own terms.

Two rats making their way.

Prince Phillip and MC Grindah, a story.

 

 

 

Why I decided to give up chocolate after visiting Cadbury’s world.

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As we sat in the darkened room of the Cadbury World tour, the chattering turned to hushing around us as the film before us began to play. We had come to Cadbury’s world on the back of the fact Matt had never been before, and after remembering all the free chocolate and liquid fudge I had been given years ago as a kid, I insisted that it would be a really cute way to spend the weekend. We sat and awaited in mild interest as the cobbled streets of old England was depicted before us, and watched amused as a man in glasses pretended to be one of the cadbury brothers.

About midway through the tale of what makes Cadbury’s chocolate so special, I was repulsed by a single fact, reeled off by the voice that narrated that short film, as if it held no special significance amidst the rest of the story told.

“Every day, 150,000 litres of fresh milk is delivered to the Cadbury factories.”

Every day. 150,000 litres. FRESH milk.

I sat reeled as the rest of the audience happily watched on. I was shocked by the vastness of that number, but more by the image of how many cows would be needed to fund such a gigantic pool of milk; Daily as well!

When the lights came on and everyone stood up and bustled into the next room of entertainment I grabbed Matt by the arm. “I’m giving up chocolate. I’m literally giving up chocolate.” With that monumental flourish, I pushed all my free chocolate onto Matt and albeit enjoyed the rest of the day; but I swore I would give up Chocolate for real this time (after months of umming and ahhing over becoming a Vegan- It was really just a fancy I brought up when meeting Vegans, but never seriously considered after a bowl of ice cream was put in front of me, or cake mix.)

I finally sat down and did some research the evening after, right after I caved in and ate one of the Curly Wurlys left over from the hefty free pile we were given, and chomped on it in front of Matt on FaceTime with a cheeky, chocolatey and happy face.

“You gave in!” he exclaimed.

“No I did NOT give in. I just fancied it.” But I had given in, and I couldn’t believe it. I was reminded of my moment of disgust in Cadbury’s world the previous day, and couldn’t believe I’d buckled so soon. With a new lease of conscience  I typed into Google cadbury cow exploitation. I couldn’t have been more right!

On the website White Lies, I found an entire page, harrowingly dedicated to Cadbury and their treatment of cows. On it they feature a video called A Calf and a Half which is filmed by their “undercover investigators [who] have been inside numerous dairy farms that supply Cadbury with milk. [They] expose the bloody secrets of the nation’s favourite confectionary brands.” In the video it shows a mother cow going through an extremely distressful birth to a still born calf. They truss her up within moments of the traumatic experience and expect her, force her to deliver milk.

Cadbury Dairy Farm

Other scenes depicts a series of mother cows being abused for milk,a calf being brutally pushed into a cart of dead calves, shouted at to stay still, and shot, Shooting the calf

and a calf being desperately licked by a mother who is only moments away from having him taken away and killed.

I don’t know how anyone can be surprised when they really think about it. The three factories of the Cadbury name started to require a huge amount of fresh milk after the Cadbury brothers visited Switzerland when they started up, to see what made the Swiss chocolate so good. After the success of Dairy Milk chocolate, Cadbury’s chocolate has depended upon the freshness of their milk ever since.

I felt like I was the only one to notice the absurdity of the amount of fresh milk needed each day to create the products of the Cadbury line. Was I the only one to see the cows when they said milk and not just see it as an ingredient?

Apparently so; Cadbury’s told us of their production needs with pride, and not a hint of humility.

I’ve thus decided to give milk chocolate a wide berth from here on out-I know some chocolate bar companies might use ethically sourced milk but I’d like to give vegan bars a try.  There’s even a section on the White Lies website on how you can mange to stay healthy without consuming milk, which will be great for when I try to talk myself into eating chocolate again on account of the ‘calcium’.

I also found a section on a whole range of dairy free chocolate, two bars of which I have already ordered. Their chocolate isn’t even that expensive, with some bars starting from as little as 70p for a honeycomb chocolate!

I might even end up doing an assessment on them in a future blog!

This blog isn’t a pro-vegan one, neither is it preaching anything, rather it’s a look at how we should think more about what we put in our mouths.  You can still enjoy chocolate if you want to give it up too, just take a look at the dairy free options! Dairy isn’t synonymous with chocolate; but suffering and pain shouldn’t be either.

 

The role of belief.

The role of religion. 

Someone recently posed the question to me, “If everyone believed the same thing, would there be world peace?” An incredibly idealistic position at most, as the rendering of an entire race with the belief of the same thing is near impossible. What I finally replied was that everyone didn’t have to believe the same thing; rather, everyone should try to believe whatever they believe, out of place of love.

Many people blame religion for divisions in society and the world, and with good reason too. Islamaphobia is rife and tolerance for other religions wanes as the major wars of the 21st century are religious in cause. Religion has been questioned since the rise of Science as a belief system; and Atheism could be argued as the fastest growing religion world wide. Indeed, although the Oxford English Dictionary stipulates first that Religion is ‘The belief in and worship of a superhuman controlling power, especially a personal God or gods’, the second entry states religion, and thereby atheism, is ‘A particular system of faith and worship.’

Would there be world peace if everyone was an Atheist? Probably not. Even if we are harmonious in our opinions on whether or not there is a God, you can bet we’d find differences in our belief’s about race, gender and Justice.

Would we be better off with religion?

Rewind the last few centuries, to a time when the public devoutly believed in God. Someone could die and their sister or mother would know with an iron surety that they would one day join them in heaven; their beloved was not forever lost to them. We needed god. We needed a place to go. Just being here was not enough.

Then science came. It showed us how resourceful man could be, how intelligent, how potent. By discovering everything about the world and answering things it proved to us our own worth. Religion gradually was replaced. Religion- the bringer of comfort to those in need- suddenly, no one in need anymore. Science and technology discovered for us our ego.

We became a lofty race. We did not need the gods, for we became our own gods. We worshipped, and still worship, ourselves. Kings were once accused of heresy if denouncing God, and they ruled second only to God; now our celebrities are revered far greater than a god, if we were to believe one even existed. Henry VIII, who famously challenged God, suffered from incredible narcissism and held himself in the highest esteem. A man only of such ego could challenge god. Is this who we have become? Mini Henry VIIIs? Who demand the world and give themselves back?

God once could forgive a person unquestionably if he repented. Nowadays we seek forgiveness from each other. A great thing if we could learn to shelve our pride and petty grievances in order to forgive and forget.

Religion has indeed sparked many wars throughout history, and terrible things were done in the name of religion. However, without religion to believe in, won’t people choose a different belief system to fight for? If some of us have lost religion then as a belief, we each still believe in something, whether it is Justice, Freedom, or Equal Rights.

These are all positive belief systems, but each have extremists that tend to cross wires with others, just like religious extremists, resulting in pain and suffering. Dangerous religious beliefs have produced terrorist bombers, dangerous justice beliefs have produced murderers who took the law into their own hands and dangerous race beliefs have produced Hitler and groups such as the KKK.

Perhaps there should be a set belief then. Perhaps we should blame certain religions, certain races and certain countries for injustice in the world. Or perhaps we should recognise that belief in anything requires a freedom to choose it.

I think belief in something is healthy. I think belief in something from a place of love is necessary.

Beliefs don’t get people killed, but the attitude with which people believe can. The place in the soul in which a belief is nurtured can render it harmonious or disastrous.

I believe that by spreading love and compassion, beliefs can be changed for the better and strengthened. I believe that by loving unconditionally we change people’s mind-sets and perceptions of the world. I believe that by nurturing the world, from a place of love within the body, our beliefs will synchronise to make the world a peaceful place; whatever they are, together.

And so forcing the entire world to believe the same thing would not bring about world peace. Within that belief system people would get fearful of the belief not being carried out correctly and fractures would appear. What will bring about world peace however, is a spa day for the soul at an individual level. And then, no matter what the belief, action can be taken from a place of love and respect, and the good inherent in any belief, will shine through.