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Sunday, 8 November 2015

Sorry Hugo Rifkind but students aren't the idiots

I'm a cisgender white person, I'm not going to even try and argue that I know what real oppression feels like, however I do not agree with Hugo Rifkind's article on Germaine Greer. I personally completely agree with the petition to cancel her talk on feminism at Cardiff University due to her transphobic comments. Not only does it completely contradict the concept of feminism it also perpetuates further the exclusion and marginalisation of a very vulnerable group in society.

" 'Feminists' who exclude trans women basically admit to seeing women as walking vaginas. You know, like misogynists."

Whilst society is progressing there are still miles to go for so many issues, in particular trans rights and representation. Poor representation and integration into society only alienates individuals more and it can result in detrimental consequences. An article by the guardian in late 2014 documented that ''48% of trans people under 26... had attempted suicide'' and ''59% said they had at least considered doing so.'' With over half the young transgender community in the UK having considered suicide, the fact that Cardiff University are ignoring the pleas of thousands of petitioners is seriously problematic. 

Only in recent years have we started to see more positive representation of trans people in film and TV but there are still so many examples of 'casual' transphobia in the media that gets brushed under the rug. As shown below, the January 2015 issue of inTouch magazine photoshopped Bruce Jenner's image to make him appear as a woman many months before he announced his transition into a woman. This kind of 'light hearted' ridicule of someone in the public eye who was suspected as transitioning is so harmful for an individual that is trying to come to terms with their sex. It will likely silence and isolate individuals struggling with this issue further from their loved ones and peers if trans issues are poorly represented in mainstream media. 

So therefore inviting  a 'feminist' to speak at a Russell Group university in 2015 that has made transphobic remarks completely undermines the progress that's been made. It may seem excessive to say it permits and supports transphobia as an acceptable ideology but by ignoring the cries of so many transgender students and individuals worldwide, it does. There are plenty of examples of Greer using offensive slurs and rejecting the trans identity that Cardiff University should know better to invite her as an esteemed guest.

Feminism apparently excludes all transgendered folk according to Germaine Greer

If an Islamophobe was to speak on behalf of the #BlackLivesMatter campaign it would seem completely void because how can you be against one kind of racism but not another? How can you be taken seriously? How can your points retain their substance when they are contradicted by your very own views?

So how can you be against one type of prejudice towards women and then discriminate against trans women? Every women's rights matter regardless of whether they have been born biologically a woman or if they have transitioned. 

I understand the argument that if you don't like or agree with her then you don't have to attend her talk but it still alienates trans students at Cardiff University who have felt marginalised by the organisation of the event in the first place.

Even without the transphobic comments why would fourth/fifth wave feminists want to hear a talk from a second wave feminist? We already know what it consists of and if it was relevant we'd still be in the second wave, but we're not. It's like Apple promoting the iPhone 3G when they've brought out the 6+. 

And quite frankly I'm fed up of the older generations behaving so righteously when it comes to us being the generation in power. Yeah because your's did such a great job with you know ruining the economy, starting an illegal war for oil and ignoring environmental issues. If our generation's problem is that we're 'too' inclusive then I think we're doing alright. 


Wednesday, 11 March 2015

Always look on the bright side of life

I think we can all be a little hard on ourselves sometimes. I'm not only no exception to this, I am the queen of this but whilst today I may have had the reality of meeting my demons in the flesh, there's still a silver lining.

I'm going to start documenting the positives in my life instead of falling into the rut of dwelling on the past and the bad. 

             This week's positives

  1. I made more friends
  2. I went outside my comfort zone more times than I have in the last year
  3. I've socialised. As in I actually left the house on a Saturday night and I'm planning on doing it again this week. Crazy!
  4. I actually did some work. Not much but you can't jump in a pool for the first time and start swimming like Rebecca Adlington.
  5. I got answers/closure/acceptance
  6. I have a fricking job now!!!! (Not at all exciting when I'm actually doing it but ££££)
  7. I have made a copious number of plans for summer already and I feel like a human again 
So yeah, I'm proud of myself, something I never say and I think we all don't say enough but I genuinely am. I'm even proud that I'm acknowledging my positives because it's much more natural for me to just mope about and allow my mind to keep swilling the negative thoughts around, which surprisingly, doesn't make me feel too good.

Tuesday, 3 February 2015

Is the release of 'Go Set a Watchman' really what Harper Lee wants?

It has been announced today that a sequel to the much loved 'To Kill a Mockingbird' will be released 55 years after the popular novel. However some of the circumstances seem to be a little questionable.

For one, a source has revealed to The New York Times that although the book takes place 20 years after the first novel, it was actually written first. This may not seem too suspicious but considering that the announcement of this release has come three months after the death of her sister Alice Lee, who was her lawyer and advocate for decades and who has fiercely protected her wishes to remain private and impervious to unwanted outside attention, it appears to be an unlikely coincidence that the novel has been revealed now. 

Additionally after a stroke in 2007 the 88 year old author is nearly completely deaf, has lost 95% of her vision and suffers from memory loss as well as being partially paralysed and confined to a wheelchair, her attorney Tonja Carter, Alice Lee's successor, revealed. According to an article from Gawker back in July "Lee has a history of signing whatever's put in front of her, apparently sometimes with Carter's advice".  This information seems to imply an apparent case of exploitation of a person that's not fully mentally fit. 

It was only back in 2007 that is was alleged that Samuel Pinkus, the son-in-law of Lee's former literary agent, took advantage of her by manipulating her to transfer the ownership of the copyright of her best selling, 1960 novel to her agent. 

With stories of previous exploits of Miss Lee it seems somewhat alarming that the sequel has been announced for release when it has. Whilst I am thrilled to hear of a sequel and intrigued to discover what the Finch's life following the trial has been like, there's something unsettling about the circumstances surrounding the release. 


Asking for help

Asking for help, something I've intermittently put off for the last four years. I blamed it on anyone but myself. My parents for not caring, not helping, being dismissive. Having a history with my doctors personally to the point that I felt uncomfortable talking to them. ''I can fix it on my own.'' ''I'm getting better, I don't need help any more.'' ''There's nothing that can fix it.'' All the feeble excuses I riled around my head until I realised there was only one person to blame for not getting help, me.

This month I asked for help. It's one of my resolutions on the infinite tick list that is my life. I promised myself that when I reached 18, when I reached the new year, before I start uni I would get my life in check. I would face my eating disorder, face my loneliness, face my depression and kick them the fuck away.  

Whilst I'm rational in my views I'm not so rational about myself. I've repeatedly reassured myself that 'good things come to those who wait' and then sobbed hysterically at how painful and unfair it all is. Well what a load of bollocks, what do I expect? If I sit and feel sorry for myself and do absolutely nothing productive to fix the problem of course it's not going to get better. 'Good things come to those who wait'... my arse! 

Asking for help may seem like the final admission of your weakness and failure but actually it's the bravest and most powerful thing you can do. By admitting your lack of control you allow yourself to take charge of your direction again. By addressing your insecurities and shame you allow yourself to look them dead in the eye and tell them where to go. 

I've felt ashamed and embarrassed for so long. I've felt like verbalising my issues would make them real and that no one would look at me the same way again. I wouldn't be the bad bitch I wanted to be but the truth is I never was her, it was all an elaborate cover up I allowed my mind to wander off with so I could avoid the problem. 

I've asked for help and surely that's got to be the first step on the road to recovery.

Monday, 2 February 2015

The religion debate

Stephen Fry appeared on RTE's 'The Meaning of Life' on Sunday evening where he voiced his views on religion labelling God as ''utterly evil, capricious and monstrous.'' Fry has not shied away from the topic of God in the past and has been vocal in his association with Atheism. 

In response, in Russell Brand's latest instalment of 'Trews', his YouTube series where he weighs in on current affairs, Brand objects to Fry's ''literalism'' approach to religion and he says ''science can explain the mechanics of the universe... but can it ever explain the why? The answer is no''.  

Russell Brand adds ''What we all want to know is, is there a reason for us being here and what is the nature of the universe? What is the nature of our consciousness?'' He goes on to discuss a book by Robert Lanza, an American doctor and scientist which addresses the flaws in received Physics. Lanza states in a passage from the book that had ''the Big Bang been one-part-in-a-million more powerful it would have rushed out too fast for the galaxies and life to develop.'' He goes on to reference an additional 2 of 200 physical parameters to argue that it is difficult to believe they are random due to their precise nature.

Whilst the physics of the Big Bang is so complex I will never fully understand it, I can't help but feel that the ideology of creationism and the belief that for circumstances to require such precision the formation of the universe must be a deliberate act is somewhat narcissistic. I often think that because as a species we are so developed we often believe ourselves to be much more important and relevant than we are. 

Although I cannot argue that the extent of coincidences that went into the construction of our universe are unfathomable I still see them as just coincidences. It's scary to know that had one of 200 different factors been even minimally different our universe wouldn't exist and neither would our atoms or stars or our species, I still believe us to be irrelevant. We're a lucky accident just the same as the merging of a specific sperm and specific egg made my conscious self and not a wholly different child is a lucky accident for me.

I think the concept of God is the human race's assumption that we are more important than we are and therefore we must have been purposely created rather than a convenient coincidence for none other than ourselves. Russell Brand's dismissal of Science as it offers no 'why' is actually the evidence for the lack of a God to me. There's no answer because there's no question. There doesn't have to be a why because we're just being presumptuous.

Apart from the grandness and complexity of the universe being baffling if it held no life there wouldn't need to be any justification as to why all the factors that went into it's creation are all perfectly exact enough to hold life. We think of the universe as this amazing thing that must have a reason for existence just because it's our reason for existence. The human race serves no purpose to anyone or anything other than to ourselves so therefore there's no justification for our creation. We purely exist because we exist, we're a lucky accident.    

Friday, 30 January 2015

Do we really love the classics or are we just being righteous?

When I first read Dickens I couldn't shake the thought that he was just so pretentious. His extensive descriptions and elite language made me sure of it. Turns out I was wrong, seen as contextually he was actually a bit of a commoner and his target audience was the working class. That told me.

Even so, prior to 2014 I couldn't understand the hype around so many of the classics. I thought the majority of the plots in the literary canon weren't enticing enough, just the cliché boy meets girl storyline. Oh how ignorant I was. It's actually surprising to me how many classics seem to challenge the structure of society when the assumed audience of this genre are so commonly the elite, the ones that benefit from the hierarchy that's under fire and who resist revolution.
Whilst Shakespeare's metaphorical thinking is mind blowing and Orwell seems to be a psychic, it still begs the question of whether we respect the classics because of their literary greatness or because we are supposed to. It's ok to like Harry Potter but we can't put Rowling ahead of Austen because she's not good enough or because she hasn't stood the test of time?

The lack of ethnic representation in the canon clarifies my doubts on whether these books and authors really are the best of the best or whether they are purely a collection of works that the white elite have considered worthy of respect. I don't doubt the standard of writing for a minute but 'the best of the best' is always going to be a pair of boots that are too big to fill. 

Thursday, 29 January 2015

Let me back on the wagon!

It's the 29th of January and by this point most people's new year's resolutions are buried 6 feet under and we all let out a sigh of disappointment citing 'maybe next year.' I'm definitely no exception to this custom. Every year I'm buzzing with the same level of unrealistic optimism that 'this year will be the year that everything changes' and there will be a 'new me'. There's a part of me that knows deep down that probably not even three days later I will have eaten my body weight in my Christmas chocolate, stayed in my pyjamas for 36 hours straight and made the most of the last few films being shown on TV before all the new seasons of our favourites are released again.

This year however, I did attack the whole new year's resolution a little differently. I didn't force myself to act as if the 1st of January was the make it or break it day, I just decided that whatever aims I have for this year I am allowed to say I have successfully achieved them as long as they are met by the 1st of Jan 2016.

If you look at my archive you can probably tell I had another blow to my motivation by the end of November and I've almost reached the 2 month mark without publishing a single post. Nevertheless, instead of falling off a hurtling wagon that I can't catch up with once I'm on the ground, this wagon is chained up to a tree with it's wheels replaced with bricks so when I lose my balance I can still clamber back on and hope no one was looking. (Quite the use of a cliché, I know!)

Expect to see the return of opinionated, sarcastic and oh-so-positive blog posts very soon.