I consider myself to be a feminist. I thought it might be a jolly ruse to see if I fit into the official definitions proposed by others.
Google says that a feminist is: a supporter of feminism OR, of or relating to or advocating equal rights for women
Wikipedia says: Feminists are people who believe in (with some campaigning for) the equality of women with men.
The OED says: feminist, adj. and n., Pronunciation: /ˈfɛmɪnɪst/ , Of or pertaining to feminism, or to women OR An advocate of feminism.
Urban Dictionary says: someone who believes the radical notion that women are people. OR A feminist is a person who believes that men and women are equal (though not necessarily the same), and should be entitled to equal rights, equal treatment, and equal opportunity
So, this afternoon I have been out of the office an in another, learning how to be the lovely Toni-Ann. And how to order books, invoice books and process books.
A surprisingly complicated process! Apparently I assume a lot from the system that we use because I was amazed at how much re-entering of information had to go on. Am I wrong in thinking things should be more intelligent, or at least more automatic?
Let me see if I’ve got this right:
Step 1: Open horrendous order sheet (constantly being updated by evermore cruel and demanding Information Consultants). Look at new order requests.
Step 2: If the book is from a regular supplier, search for ISBN on supplier website. Check all the details (e.g. price, edition etc) are correct.
Step 3: Search library catalogue for ISBN also.
a) if we have the same edition etc in stock, choose this item to add new orders to.
b) if not, create mini-catalogue record from almost-helpful template.
Step 4: Input all the details from the order sheet e.g. Price, correct budget, loan type, quantity etc etc (Oh, and if we have a previous edition: include classmark for ease of future cataloguing)
Step 5: Hit go. Order gets sent to supplier.
Then, when the book arrives:
- tell system who the delivery is from, then type in all order numbers and mark as paid.
- then tell the system what each item is, so type in its order number, replace with a barcode, check that it has the right classmark and loan status etc
- any problems send to cataloguing – otherwise it should be good to go.
It’s almost as though I’ve made it sound easy here – but I think that’s because I am a true novice, indeed layman. I am still surprised that once you’ve typed in the order number or ISBN, the system can’t just do the rest itself – but then I guess how would it know if you didn’t tell it? All I know is, there’s a lot of typing in the same information in slightly different places, with the added pressure of assigning the right budget!
I’m glad I don’t have to do that – although I’m sure that if I got into it, it would be ok. So I’m learning that I like my position – and that library work seems to involve a lot of spreadsheets…
No, not really.
I hate those things. They always sound quite pretentious to me – as well as (quite, clearly) pointless. You can’t change the past. I don’t think you should want to. Not that I don’t have regrets.
There’s also the fact that I’m pretty sure, had a received a letter from my future self when I was about 16 saying ‘Don’t do this’, ‘Give this a go’, ‘Old English won’t be fun’, I really think I’d have missed out. I mean, obviously, some of this advice could have been very pertinent, very useful, saved me a lot of heartache – but then that’s not really the point of life, is it? I am the sum of all those things, as cheesy as that is/sounds, so to warn myself away from them would change me beyond recognition.
And although I know that these Letters are supposed to help rather than hinder – if I haven’t done something, how could I safely know to tell my little self to do them without causing her an abundance of equal problems in a different direction?
All of which stems from what could have been two separate posts: A List of Regrets and Things I Miss About University.
A List of Regrets
A List of Things I Miss about University (ie. A list of the best)
Some of those are just memories, I guess. But ones that I wouldn’t have otherwise. You can’t tell your younger self to on an impulse hide in a suitcase… Which I think means I’m having a hard time coming up with these Best Things – and I don’t think that’s because it’s easier to come up with regrets. I think it’s because the main thing I miss about uni is the freedom, and that’s basically what all of these things point towards. Perhaps that’s why I could never write a Letter – the best thing about the past four years was the freedom to do exactly as we pleased, and even if that meant doing stupid things like climbing into the attic, the Just Because We Could thing is something I really needed and really enjoyed – and if my future self had influenced me in any way, then it just would not have been as good. I would have been nervous, I would have been looking for the opportunities and I think the most beautiful part of all this nostalgia crap is the stuff that you never planned.
The point of these lists was for me to see what I’ve learned or gained or lost. Which is an equally pretentious thing to writing a Letter, I know, but at least I don’t claim to have all of the answers now. I learned from those regrets and those chances that I took and while some of them I don’t wish to repeat, or won’t, most of them I’m glad I did as I learned something from each of them.
So, in my opinion, we shouldn’t wish for magical, time-travelling advice. I think we should be able to trust ourselves to make mistakes and learn from them – or at least learn never to do them again! It’s the not planning that makes it all enjoyable. I saw my life as something very different four years ago, and I didn’t ever think I’d be where I am now back then. I’m not with the same person (“romantically”), I’m not in a city, I don’t live on my own, I’m not studying – and gods know I never thought I’d become a librarian! – but I don’t mind any of these things. It’s the things I learned in the middle that shaped that, and although I kind of want to plan, I know that I can’t because I just like the way things go too much!
Having said all that, I’m curious, what do you wish you’d learned before something went wrong, or wish you’d known how good something would be before it took you so long to try it? How did you see your life going when you were younger? Audience participation – go!
While I agree with the sentiment (obviously) of this movement – because of course sexual harrassment is never a good thing – I wonder if perhaps I should feel sad that I’m in the 5% of women who have never experienced attention of this kind?
This is really just another post for the sake of postaweek2011.
Anyway, these are my most recent thoughts. My moleskine isn’t much better, I’m afraid.
First impressions: Some of the pages in this book are beautiful. The kind of poetry I used to write, want to write, am sometimes to scared to write. So I loaned it out from the library -although I expect soon enough I’ll wish I’d bought it. Soon I will most likely be photocopying pages.
100 pages in: I love this book. I am sometimes terrified, but always amazed. Last night, I could not leave the bedroom doors open while I was cooking in the kitchen. But then the closed doors frightened me and I had to open them again.
Oh, an important point now: no spoilers. Not yet. I am still in awe so I want you to read it and then talk to me about it. Anything spoilery – including ‘analysis’ – will be marked.
Sometimes I am terrified. My favourite bit so far is still the part where the reader is told to focus only on the page, nothing but the page, and then imagine something just outside of your viewpoint, waiting. The first time I read it, I thought ‘Yeah, right, these are just words, I’ll read them but it won’t work’. Then I started trying and I forgot. But it wasn’t until a while later, when I’d been reading for another half hour or so that it happened of it’s own accord. It’s like he says at the beginning, “You’ll finish and that will be that, until a moment will come, maybe in a month, maybe a year, maybe even several years” and that’s when it hits you.*
I just love that. I love that the book makes you scared of it. And in a way that’s subtle too. Perhaps it’s because I’m impressionable, but I just think that’s great. It’s not telling you what to do in a way that’s overly arrogant, but it is dictating your reading, and your reaction.
I love the narration. Not the narrator, but the choices made in narrating this story. OK, so this is a bit spoilerly. But you’ve got Navidson, whose story of himself is being analysed by Zampanό; Zampanό’s story has been told by Truant who then goes through Zampanό’s story again while at the same time telling us his own. But then – and this is the best bit – there’s an overall editor. “Ed.” appears just once or twice, in footnotes of footnotes, and at first you don’t quite notice. But then it becomes clear that the text you’re reading has been re-read and possibly re-touched by three different people. Then who do you listen to?
Another thing I love: the word ‘house’ does not fit on the page.
But, from a writerly perspective, there are rambling passages in this book that I just cannot get enough of. I mean, it’s taking me forever to read. But I’m reading each and every word – sometimes four times. This is the kind of fiction I used to write, where you’re conveying a moment or a feeling through a metaphor that goes and goes and it doesn’t matter how little sense it makes but the feeling itself is somehow there.
That sounds crap. Basically, I just love the rambling text that loses itself but somehow conveys the moment that the narrator is in while he’s using it. I’m not sure if an example would be better to illustrate just how brilliant this is.
“Our lips just trespassed on those inner labyrinths hidden deep within our ears, filled them with the private music of wicked words, hers in many languages, mine in the off colour of my only tongue, until as our tones shifted, and our consonants spun and squealed, rattled faster, hesistated, rached harder, syllables soon melting with groans, or moans finding purchase in new words, or old words, or made-up words, until we gathered up our heat and refused to release it, enjoying too much the dark language we had suddenly stumbled on, craved to, carved to…”**
I don’t know if anyone but me got that. But I knew what he was talking about even though what he was saying doesn’t make a lot of sense until you’ve read it about eight times. I like that. I like the construction and the effort that went into writing that. I like that you know what’s happening, although he doesn’t tell you explicitly. I like that you know how he feels about it too, how’s he’s totally caught up in it.
Anyway, I’m going to shut up now until I’ve read some more. I will be scared, but compelled, and although sometimes I want to know the punchline via Wikipedia so that I’m not too scared, I know how much of a fail that will be.
So I’ll be sleeping with the lights on, it seems.
* Danielewski, Mark Z., House of Leaves, (London: Doubleday, 2000), p. xxii
** Danielewski, p. 89
I have been meaning to make this post for about a week, and now that it’s International Women’s Day, I think it’s almost fitting.
Since I read this article I have been trying to articulate the disappointment I feel towards the French Government. This law is completely dispicable. What right does any government have to suppress the expression of belief or freedom of citizens who are not breaking the law or not inciting religious violence.
I can understand restricting the rights of those who do break the law, but I find it entirely laughable that the French Prime Minister François Fillon can say with a straight face that the new oppressive law is in order to preserve the “principles of liberty, equality and human dignity affirmed by the French republic” and that niqab wearers place themselves ”in a situation of exclusion and inferiority” compared to the rest of the French population. Can he not see that he is making these women inferior and excluded by banning them to their homes, or forcing them to dress according to a National ideal and not personal expression? Can he not see that he is making them inequal, denying their liberty and their human dignity?
The fact that so few women wear the niqab reinforces this, surely. The French government are being so selective in their choice of who to discriminate against that this can’t have anything to do with the overwhelming numbers causing trouble among the population, it’s just another way to whittle away at the freedom of French Muslims. It’s childish, not useful. And the fact that they have to widen the bredth of the law to “covering one’s face in public places” so as to include women and men in motorcycle helmets and balaclavas (who, significantly, can claim special dispensation) shows the inaccuracy of the law. It is meant to target Muslim women, not public order. Similarly, I cannot see how wearing a motorcycle helmet makes you inferior to the rest of France. It just doesn’t make sense.
This article not only deals with the proposal of a law to withdraw freedom from religious individuals, but also with the sheer childishness of the “Christian heritage of France”. There is nothing political, mature or constructive about hosting a “”rosé wine and porchetta” evening [...] near a Muslim place of prayer in Nice on Friday night” – simply an outrageous display of bullying.
What I think this shows is an obvious display of discrimination against Muslim women. It has gone past claiming that Muslim women are all oppressed as a result of their religion and that the niqab is an example of oppression inherent in Islam – a whole other issue and one I’m not entirely sure I believe, although I haven’t done enough research to make my mind up entirely. It has just jumped straight to ‘this isn’t French, so you can’t do it’, which is ridiculous. And insensical.
So I wouldn’t hesitate too much in suggesting that this law oppresses the freedom of women to dress as they please. The French goverment don’t claim to be liberating the oppressed Muslim women by ensuring that she is allowed to show her face as well as all the other French women, they’re just restricting her movements and personal expression on account of her appearance. Aside from the obvious religious aspect to this; what right at all does any government have to suppress the personal expression of any individual who is not breaking the law or inciting violence? What right does any government have to suppress women in this way? Even if so far the law only effects a tiny minority, surely the principle of stamping down on women’s dress is something that we cannot stand for?
For as long as I can remember, I have wanted to be an astronaut. I still do. I maintain that if I could go to space, my entire life would be complete and there would be nothing else I would need; the love of a good man, four beautiful children, a cat, completed mortgage payments: nothing. It’s not a dream that has gone away, but as you can tell I haven’t really achieved this ambition of mine.
I remember, acutely and painfully, the moment I realised that it wasn’t going to happen. I couldn’t have been more than about nine, and I was visiting the National Space Centre with my dad. (By the way, really awesome place, thinking about it now I want to go back.) Standing in front of a display board I was devouring the information about ‘How to Become an Astronaut’ with all the determination I could muster when I struck upon the damning phrase. To become a Shuttle Commander, it was necessary to know how to fly a plane. Not only that, space sickness was at least ten times worse than air sickness.
Reader, I cried. In the middle of the exhibit. I mean, it wasn’t bawling your eyes out and sobbing and pounding the floor, more lone emo tears, but I’m still not ashamed to admit that I ran to my dad and I cried, because I knew that was it. The spark had gone.
It’s funny, because looking back at it now I can tell you what it was – and it was really stupid. I mean, I knew I’d have to be physically fit, have a good grasp of physics and become an American – nothing I was particularly keen on. I also knew that the selection process was gruelling and it was more unlikely than likely that I would get chosen. But it was this space sickness and flying a plane thing that got me. I was going through a bout of extreme fear of flying coupled with air sickness. It was a joy. And to my nine-year old self, truly was the final nail in the coffin.
Which is sad, really, because I’d been planning it forever. I remember smugly telling people that I would be the first person on Mars and that I was guaranteed to make it because research had been done into the effects of loneliness, and women were less likely to lose the plot, apparently. I wrote a letter to Nasa. I read anything and everything to do with space. Sir Patrick Moore is still one of my idols. But my astronaut ambition is gone, even if the space dream hasn’t disappeared.
Sometimes I lament this loss of ambition. Since then, I don’t think I’ve ever wanted something like that in the same way. I thought about being a geologist. I wanted to be a writer. And I think I might want to be a librarian. But I’m not really convinced, not like I was about space travel.
Requested by Thursa (possibly the only person reading this! If I can’t satisfy your every whim, my dear, then what is the point?)
I think men are under-represented and under-considered. In literature, study and society we think very often about women, and make provisions for women over men. I’m not disagreeing with the need to support women and encourage this ‘glass ceiling-breaking’ thing, but I think that this makes men rather interesting subjects to study.
The male psyche interests me. And I’m aware that this is most likely because I am an English Lit graduate and so many courses deal with the representation of women, and women writers and exploitative sexuality of women that I feel criticism and research focuses so much on the female genre (what a phrase!). But in my limited experience of being in the real world, I can see that there are a lot of things geared towards women also. Ranging from Cosmopolitan magazine, to women-only university scholarships, to bloody Harriet Harperson insisting that we give women jobs based not on their ability but their ownership of a uterus – women and women’s ‘issues’ and ideas are given much more coverage. Even eating disorders, modelling – when do you hear about bulemic men other than as an afterthought in an article about young girls suffering, or have a male America’s Next Top Model?
In terms of jobs, the white middle-class male is so discriminated against that I almost wonder how any of them manage!
What interests me most about men is how they become ‘male’. I have seen shelves of books devoted to the representation of women and the construction of their gender, but much fewer about men and masculinity. So this is something I want to look into. Most specifically contemporary masculinity, as I think men have so many of the conflicts women have in their lives, but it’s just that they’re not spoken about as loudly. While women have this mother/career women divide to navigate, I believe men have a similar problem. Men have to provide security, not necessarily financial, although that’s often seen as a measure of success and potential worth; but they have to at the same time not smother women, not take their jobs, not be remotely sexist while at the same time standing up for their own rights. You have to be sensitive, but not talk about your feelings too much; have standards in relationships, yet at the same time be expected to give your all to one women – it’s a hard job!
Now, I don’t know a lot about men, on account of both my X chromosomes, but it seems to me that there is a lot of conflict in being a man. However, I am lucky enough to have a captive man who doesn’t mind answering a lot of stupid questions quite often. And a lot of my questions, while not explicitly ‘how do you feel you have to be as a man?’, are related to this area. Admittedly, a lot of them are also about sex, but that’s because this is somewhere where the conflict appears – to me at least – to be so much greater. What the hell do men and women think about each other sexually? Are they thinking the right thing? How can you tell? And what’s the best way to win?
I read Cosmo, from time to time. I don’t read the fashion advice. I don’t take everything I read as gospel, but I can see how it’s done. The power of the printed word conveys an authority that I am prey to in fiction, but can be cynical about ‘fact’. I also read a popular blog amongst men, ‘advice’ and ‘fact’ from a former pick-up artist now schooling men in the ways to be alpha and secure the optimum mate. It’s almost primal. But it’s very interesting. There’s some psychology in there, I’m sure. And I find myself agreeing with bits of it. But sometimes I have to say I find it offensive and mostly rubbish. But what’s almost more interesting are the comments. The need to assert themselves as strong men is so overriding for some of these readers that they come out with the most outlandish things – combined with increasing desperation to pick a women before they themselves are left on the shelf. I will continue to read in interest. And with a large pinch of salt.
What interests me particularly at the moment is the apparent detrimental affect of pornography. It’s an increasingly popular opinion that porn is destroying the mind of young men worldwide, and I’ve read and seen examples which both support and negate this view. This may well warrant a post of it’s own at a later date, actually, but I think the relationship between sexuality and maleness is something which needs to be considered. Our views are, I believe, outdated.
Writing this post has felt rather vague, to me. I think this is mostly because, instead of getting across what I think about men, I have instead written about what I would like to think more about in relation to men. Perhaps I should have come up with some bullet points instead.
To most likely be continued…