My mother taught me
to eat mangoes.
Sliding the long knife through
We would push from beneath,
the leathery skin against our
fingers. A broken rubix cube
of bitesize fruit unfolded,
We stood together,
gulping down morsels
before the kitchen sink.
The juice ran down our chins
spotting sweet, onto the immaculate steel.
I just watched this, and you all should too:
In all seriousness, I wanted to cry/cheer. Once when she said ‘fuckable’ and once when she said ‘no.’ I’m not sure I have much more to say on this, other than I really needed a kick up the arse and this might be it.
White cool box
that pulses, remembers, can’t know for sure.
Emptied in a February freeze,
Contents tipped down white, crumbled cliffs
to a tealgreen, icy sea.
The spark is gone.
in the water. Sweeping debris out to the expanse.
Sometimes driftwood takes years to resurface.
A polished piece planed and smoothed by salt and sea
is quite different the second time around.
When you cut off a chicken’s head, it’s
Which keep it running round
for hours afterwards.
I write to inform you of my
- oh, well how to put this delicately?
At first I was smitten, needing, and sure
That you were mine and I’d always be yours.
The thought of you with another – why -
My little heart would pound, tears fill my eyes…
The notion of exclusivity I so had bought;
I was smug in the sureity we’d never cut short
Such a wonderful wisdom, a lesson taught
In every book/song/film that came my way…
Apologies, I digress – I write then, to say -
That since we’ve parted, I just can’t make this stay:
My subscription to your traditional ideals of love has ended, and I do not wish to renew.
All best wishes,
A Girl Who Used To ‘Belong’ To You
- Sept. 2012
Once upon a time
I was fairly certain we would never be apart.
Like fresh-picked peas in a pod
the metaphorical chalk and cheese
hair gel and teenage boys
the stake in a vampire’s heart
marmite on toast
dirt encrusted in a bicycle chain
the rule and its exception
it has been an age since I breathed you in
- even accidentally.
Electrons in an atom are part of the same system; separated
only by a fizzing eternity they might not even know is there.
At our fingertips is every form of connection
but we cannot make the link.
Oh, great initiator, blessed with your presence
to set in motion a fire.
What burns must be destroyed,
must turn to dust
fizzing with dropped tears.
x is the sound of the spark.
We marked an x after every message, every sentence
but that spark, too,
The spark starts, and then it leaves,
but the fire rages on.
Why, then, must we call attention to the abandonment of the spark?
Our fire spits and burns with eagerness, shooting its own sparks into the darkness,
but to stop feeding it would bring the darkness all around.
I think I’m going to stop calling myself a feminist.
I’ve changed my blog bio to ‘equalist’, which is a pedant’s way of saying I believe in something that could be called feminism, but which I think it (not always unfairly) associated with, and shouted about by, people who could often be referred to as narrow-minded – and I don’t want to be one of those people.
I want to read both sides of the argument. I’m aware that I will sometimes contradict myself. I’m aware that I will sometimes sit on the fence. But I want to keep learning.
There are parts of feminist ideology I cannot agree with. While I can’t agree with Quiet Riot Girl’s total rejection of rape culture, I know that in my 23 years I’ve never been sexually harrassed or made to feel uncomfortable by a man. Or a woman, for that matter. And so I can’t claim that I’m a feminist because ‘men do terrible things’.
And while I know that a lot of people will say that I’m ‘lucky’ to not have experienced victimisation on account of my physical makeup, and I think that’s shit and shouldn’t be the case, and that no person should be sexually harrassed… I also believe that to perpetuate a myth in which men are the harrassers and women the harrassees is short-sighted and not helpful as it paint all of us who fit as either victims or perpetrators. I’d like to think we’re more complex, and compassionate, than that.
And while I believe that a lot of culture leads us to expect less from women, I also believe that it pressures men into unattainable ideas of what a man ‘should’ be and ‘can’ do (i.e. sexual stallion who beds 60 women a month, and can’t compliment a friend on his/her choice of shoes).
I can also see that page 3 models and the thought that sex workers can’t be raped is a blatant objectification of women, I’ve never been able to see how that’s worse than the Cosmo naked centrefold. In fact, rather than outlaw these things, I’d prefer that we accepted them and also acknowledged that they are not gender-specific, and our prejudices about the people photographed should be challenged. Objectification and sexualisation are not gender-specific, but they should be tackled.
I don’t like that a male anorexic is paraded as an oddity, and female professors and politicians are judged on their dress sense. I would rather we judged people on their choices and values (and yes, those are influenced by society) than what genitals they have or would like to have.
In fact, there are a lot of things I like and a lot of things I don’t. But I don’t think I favour any one of them consciously because they are ‘male’ or ‘female’ things. And I think that’s what radical feminism and misogyny and pink and blue children’s rooms and automatically putting glitter on girl’s shoes and not making skirts that fit boys does – whether it means to or not. My view is that a modern person should be able to do what the fuck they like, equally. And that’s what I would argue for.
But I’m going to keep reading. I want to be challenged and I want to keep learning, and I don’t know all the answers so I welcome the challenge!
Recently I’ve been travelling on the London Underground more than usual (read: twice in the past week), and while standing in a baking hot metal tube full of people reading paperbacks (and on one occasion a guy with a guitar singing John Martyn’s May You Never – *squee*), I’ve been reading the advertisements above my head.
In every carriage I travelled in, there was a poster advertising new SKYN condoms. They’re not made of latex, apparently, and it’s good news for people who don’t like the feel of latex – good news for everyone, then, I guess.
And it’s great to see condoms being advertised alongside dating websites and vitamin pills and The Independent and all the other stuff that’s commonplace and you can’t help but look at on the tube – really great. But I’ve still taken a small (but I think significant) issue with SKYN’s advertising campaign.
Here are a selection of SKYN adverts:
Do you notice a theme? Nice lady, in underwear, lying on a bed/other soft furnishing, smirking gently into the camera and captioned with one tagline or another extolling the virtues of wearing SKYN condoms vs. not wearing condoms vs. wearing other, insensitive latex brands.
On the surface, this is looking good. Women hate condoms, but they’re necessary. Men hate condoms, but they’re necessary. SKYN will fix this. Excellent. My problem is: why isn’t there a nice-looking dude lying in his boxers on soft furnishings telling me how much he enjoys wearing SKYN condoms?
You can’t tell me that doesn’t play into the stereotype that men hate condoms but have to do so for the benefit of women. Women are always: wear this, don’t wear that, whereas for men it’s a case of ‘well I suppose this’ll keep her quiet’. Wouldn’t a man preaching the brilliance of this new condom material and how brilliant it feels be much more effective a) in advertising to men, and b) in combatting the idea that men ought to practice safe sex just because women ask them to? If advertising is meant to appeal to us on a personal level, why can’t a man want to follow in the footsteps of the nice guy he sees in adverts?
This is a minor gripe, that potentially opens a can of worms.
By only using women to advertise their products, SKYN are committing two offences, to my mind. One: placing the responsibility for condom purchase solely in the hands of women. Two: perpetuating the stereotype that condoms exist for the benefit of women.
To address offence One: what I do like about the adverts is that the women are not asking, or nagging, they’re expressing their preference for ‘closer’ sex and therefore the use of SKYNs. They are flirtatious, and the message is clear and friendly: women like sex with SKYNs as much as you, token man, will. But it isn’t just their opinion that changes the behaviour of those who buy condoms: men and women buy condoms (at least, I bloody hope so), and so men and women should be included in the adverts. Sure, the woman in the advert is supposed to be talking directly to the man on the tube, and convincing him that SKYNs will be the answer to his (and her dilemma), but by not acknowledging the male opinion, SKYNs are ignoring the responsibility of both genders to use condoms.
Every time I view the stats on this blog, I am surprised. Surprised that so many people seem to give a toss about CG-guinea pigs and whether they’re feminist.
These are the Top Ten Most Visited Posts on postgradpanopticon, and the number of times they’ve been visited:
I googled that guinea pig thing. Or at least, the search terms that led people to it. It’s on page 7 of Google. Why do 564 people care enough about the names of the guinea pigs in G-Force to go to page 7 of Google and find my odd, Christmas-spirit-inspired (and I’m not talking incorporeal happiness here, I’m talking liquor) post on Disney’s feminist guinea-pigs?
When it overtook Twilight, I knew there was a problem.
Ought I to be tailoring my posts to this silent majority? I could write only about Twilight, body image and guinea pigs from now on. What do you say?
Saying “no” is a really important skill in life. Hearing “no” is just as important, if not more so. There are a number of situations in which it’s appropriate to hear and accept a refusal to your proposal, and a multitude of ways in which a rejection of this perfectly valid response are unfair and totally incorrect.
If your boss gives you work you can’t manage, you need to be able to politely decline, and they need to be able to understand that. If your housemate insists you do all the washing up, you need to be able to say no, and they need to be able to hear that and compromise. If your husband or wife asks for sex, you should be able to say no, and they need to hear, understand and respect your wishes.
In light of the recent ridiculous remarks on rape and rape culture in the media lately, from Julian Assange to George Galloway’s “no need to ask permission before every insertion” (excuse me while I throw up in my mouth), to tools on Twitter who just don’t know better but really, really should, I just want to express my astonishment that this is still a question.
Does no mean no? Why, yes, it does. Sometimes “no” has the context of ‘well, I’d really like to, but we shouldn’t', but going ahead regardless is refusing to acknowledge “no”, and therefore being at best an idiot and at worst a criminal. Sometimes “no” has the context of ‘no, not on your life, get away’, and if you go ahead knowing this then you are an idiot and/or a criminal.
It surprises me that people seem to justify imposing themself on another by claiming that it’s in some way unromantic to actually ask/check that the other party’s ok with what’s going on. Because, sure, what’s more romantic than being violated, forced into something against your will, andhaving your right to free will ignored because you might give the answer they didn’t want to hear?
I can’t think of another explanation, so this must boil down to a fear of rejection. We’re all scared of rejection. We’re all scared of getting the wrong end of the stick, misunderstanding, or making a fool out of ourselves. Have we really reached the stage where we’d rather be criminals than just plain wrong?
And when I say wrong, I don’t mean going ahead with sex and saying ‘oops’. I mean misreading the situation: thinking someone was interested when they weren’t, being too worried to bother reading the visual/aural cues that a person makes when they’re uncomfortable, being unwilling to stop a second and say ‘is this ok?’
I’ve mentioned before on this blog, that the ‘fear’ around sexual harrassment (by which I mean the fear that you might be seen as a harrasser), has something to do with the (un)willingness to take no as an answer. For some reason, we seem to feel that we ought to be perfect when it comes to relationships, but it’s ok to be wrong about these things! You can make a move, it can be rejected, and then you can get on with your life! If I accept that the person I want to have sex with might not want to have sex with me, then I’m ready to hear ‘no’; I’ll be embarrassed but I’ll get over it – and so will they. Isn’t momentary embarrassment better than going ahead without asking and doing what you want at the expense of someone else – condemning them, and possibly yourself, to a lifelong remembrance of something terrible.
Similarly, it’s perfectly acceptable for someone you’ve had sex with before to not want to do it again – maybe not now, maybe not ever. Assuming eternal consent is stupid. If you were asked if you liked cheese on toast for dinner once, and received it every day for the next month without anyone asking your opinion, wouldn’t you be annoyed? And I’m using this sort of example because I think that the people who need this explaining to them will probably understand better if I use shorter words.
“No” always means “no” at the time it is said. “No” can be retracted at a later date to “yes”, just as “yes” can at a later date be changed to “no”. Be prepared to hear no, and be prepared to cope with rejection. That way, although you might be a bit embarrassed, you’ll be showing empathy and not end up a criminal.
Of course, I’m assuming here that people trying to justify ‘not quite a rape’ rapes, aren’t selfish, heartless bastards who are going to go ahead with whatever they want because their opinion is the only one that counts and their needs are the only ones that need to be met. I could be wrong. But let’s hope I’m not.
I’m just genuinely amazed that this is even debated. People – men and women – change their minds! Men and women change their minds! Refusing to acknowledge this is plain ridiculous, and if you really can’t understand this very simple concept you should probably steer away from sexual contact with other people and educate yourself.