Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Woman on Woman

I'm a little embarrassed at how long it's been. Not because I feel like I've left you all (mother, Mike Fisher and Harri Notton) bereft of exciting and challenging blog updates, but because I despair to think of how many hours I've wasted on facebook/twitter/wikipedia/eating/watching Sex and the City when I could have been writing exciting and challenging blog updates. New Years' Resolution #1: Write FAR more regularly. As in at least twice a month. None of this three month dry spell shit. Nobody likes a dry spell.

The myriad issues which have riled me over the past three months are enough to fill several hundred blogs and so I must accept that I have very much 'missed the boat' on things like the Occupy movement, My Transsexual Summer, Berlusconi, Florence and her racist Machine, My Tram Experience et al. Do note that I have been feeling wildly and passionately about all above issues however. While the blog has died, my zeal for justice lives on. I'd hate for you to think that I have shut up about anything; I have merely channelled my anger into modes of communication which take less time ie. twitter and The Other F Word, the radio show Rhiannon and I wail on. Following me on twitter is like a quick slap in the face; reading my blog is like me tugging your earlobe for an hour. The latter just seems to NEVER END. And speaking of never ending, we have arrived at my topic of choice for this reunion blog. *Clears throat*: sexism. I am a master of subverting your expectations, I know.

But this isn't sexism in its most traditional sense. This isn't patriarchy and the glass ceiling and objectification. This is a specific kind of sexism which has wound me up beyond belief during this festive season. Possibly the worst type of sexism. The sexism which almost doesn't look like sexism. The sexism which gets branded as "bitchiness" or "gossip" so it slips under your sexism radar and it's only when you're home in bed that it suddenly dawns on you that you were divulging in sexism. Good grief, you think to yourself. This sexism is what I call 'woman on woman' and I find it to be the most abhorrent form of sexism there is.

Have you ever been chatting to a female friend and found the conversation slipping into the realms of cruelty? Of course, you're only human. But have you ever been chatting to a female friend and found the conversation turning to a mutual female peer/acquaintance/friends' provocative outfit she was wearing last night? Or how many men she's slept with? Or how 'slutty' she acts? Or how unattractive she is? Over the years, I have found myself in what must be hundreds of these conversations. Hindsight is a wonderful thing, of course, but I feel ashamed and repulsed at how for the longest time I bought into woman on woman hatred. And actually enjoyed it.

Woman on woman is when a woman or women verbally attacks, judges, hates on a fellow woman or women. This kind of hatred usually manifests as judgement on sexuality, identity and other life choices. I am fully aware that we are innately judgemental creatures: some judgements can be good and helpful and necessary but some judgements are products of our society's crippling attitudes and inequalities. I mean, is it really helpful or necessary to judge how many men a woman has slept with? Is that in any way significant to your friendship or who she is as a human being? As Jenna Marbles, youtube extraordinaire, once said when responding to similar issues: "Has she got your boyfriend's cock in her mouth? If the answer is no, you have no reason to hate her." Ms Marbles says a lot of questionable shit  but here, in her own crass fashion, she is entirely right. What does a woman's outfit have to do with the rest of us? If she wants to wear provocative clothing and show off the illegal part of her tights, then why on earth not? It has absolutely nothing to do with any of us and is simply a matter of taste. Some women feel comfortable expressing their bodies and their sexuality, while others don't. My anger at woman on woman hate reached a gargantuan peak recently when I discovered that according to a survey done by Amnesty International , 1 out of 4 people believe that a rape victim is partially to blame if they were wearing "sexy" clothing. 1 out of 4 people have some seriously twisted views on rape and sexuality.  Rape is caused by a rapist; flesh does not equate to a thumbs up. Why this is even still being debated is beyond me, it seems as simple as rapists being prosecuted and punished. Oh wait. However, when the hatred for sexually provocative or explicit women is so high and so fierce, we can hardly hope for better statistics.

This needs to be tackled right here and right now. The global movement 'SlutWalk' is tackling the law and the stigma (thank fuck) but it needs to be tackled in the girls' bathrooms at Jesters, where I routinely overhear women hating on the sexual endeavours of other women. It needs to be tackled on television, where "slut" or "whore" are acceptable ways in which to describe a woman and aren't deemed offensive alongside oppressive terms like "faggot" or "mong". It needs to be talked about and questioned and challenged and we need to stop accepting our fate as women. I have been called it all: a slut, frigid, a dyke, a prostitute. Every term used to sexually stigmatise under the sun. And what am I? I am whatever the hell I want to be and I am the only person that can define that. I am the only party to consistently attend all the times I've had sex so how could someone else possibly judge? And I can assure you, it's really not that interesting. The whole 'whore/virgin' dichotomy unfortunately lives on and as an English student who has done countless essays on this pair of opposites throughout history, I can tell you now - it's getting seriously dull. And at the end of each essay, I always wrap it up with the same thing: "'Whore' and 'virgin', the prevailing terminology to sexually categorise women, don't actually mean anything". It makes the last three thousand words seem pretty futile but it is the conclusion I will stubbornly continue to come to. Of course, clinically, we can say what a virgin physically is. But what is a slut? Someone who has slept with lots of men, perhaps. But what is 'lots'? It's a context specific word and therefore 'slut' has no inherent value. Slut only exists in relation to its opposite (virgin, frigid, prude etc): a woman who has had ten sexual partners is a 'slut' when in a community of women who have slept with none while a woman who has slept with ten sexual partners isn't when compared to women who have slept with fifty. So even the biggest 'slut' is only so in certain circles. She is a fair-weather slut, at best.

Have we learnt nothing from Mean Girls? In my opinion, Mean Girls is one of the best feminist films to come out of the 21st century and certainly one of the best to have ever been produced in Hollywood. This is all down to the goddess that is Tina Fey. Tina, how I love thee. Her immortal line to a gym full of angsty teenage girls is perfect: "You all have got to stop calling each other sluts and whores. It just makes it ok for guys to call you sluts and whores". TRUE DAT. We have got to stick together in this. And if we all stopped worrying about other womens' sex lives and concentrated on our own, maybe we'd get better at masturbating? Men seem to have perfected this over the centuries - it's probably because they don't think about what men are wearing and doing and sleeping with every ten seconds. Challenge on, ladies. New Years' Resolution #2 (this one's for all of us): Worry less about how many men other women are sleeping with and what they're wearing/Masturbate more.

If you're looking for last minute Christmas presents for women (or open-minded men OR evil bastards who need a good talking to), I'd recommend Caitlin Moran's How to be a Woman. It's utterly brilliant and articulates my feelings wonderfully, with far more wit and impressive metaphor. I can't help resenting her though; I was going to write that book. Time to rethink my life plan, I guess. In the meantime, I know what I can spend more time doing...

... Blogging, obviously! Have a fabulous Christmas, my three lovely readers.

Monday, 3 October 2011

A Rather Large Issue

Another human plight that gets my heart racing and my moral compass spinning is homelessness in the UK. It seems so utterly absurd that with all the resources, houses and people power we have in this country, fundamental human rights deeming one should have a home are so thoroughly and constantly in breach. And how can we ever hope to cap it? Numbers seem to be continually on the rise, with almost two thousand rough sleepers estimated on any one given evening last year in England, a staggering 42% increase from 2009 alone. However, more disturbingly, this number is misleading as it only counts the local authorities who chose to look into the issue within their constituency. The actual number of rough sleepers could be anything; in London alone, 3,674 people were counted on the streets in 2010, offering a grave reminder of how this problem is so flippantly overlooked by many areas of the UK, radically skewing the statistics.  Not to mention all those who were sheltered out of eyesight.

There seems to be a grave misunderstanding on the part of some individuals as to how people become homeless. I once heard one of my friends' dads say that homelessness was completely avoidable and that 'these people' were good for nothing scavengers with drug addictions. This stuck with me. As a young teenager walking through my small and provincial Dorset streets, the resident street sleeper who I'd come to recognise actually scared me. I was afraid of a person who was sitting on the floor, devoid of possessions, cupping their hands for money. Terrified, in fact. I joined the apathetic and awkward masses who would avidly gaze at the other side of the road, become obsessed with a crease in their top, become immersed at a text on their mobile phone. Of course, I am embarrassed but I wasn't to know any better. This is the kind of shit that was being pumped into me by the adults I looked to for guidance. I'm sure he wasn't aware that addiction is a serious and complex affliction that often stems from appalling neglect, abuse, depression or even a genetic tendency. I'm sure he wasn't aware that around 30% of homeless people have mental health problems and 21% don't have a substance addiction problem at all. I'm sure if someone alleviated him from his ignorance, he'd have felt awful for making such derogatory comments. Or not.

At the SUSU Environmental and Ethical Fair on Thursday, the local Big Issue representatives had a stall opposite our Back the Boycott one. As a friendly neighbour would, I moseyed on over for a natter and was so humbled and in awe from what they had to say. I've always known that the Big Issue is a fantastic publication and have bought several in my time - my favourite vendor is the Asian lady near International Foods in Portswood - but I had no idea how completely it could change peoples' lives. If like me you don't know how it works, I beg you indulge in a spot of research. For those who can't be arsed, I had no idea that when you bought the magazine, a pound goes to the vendor and a pound goes back into the production. I didn't know that the vendors are self employed. I didn't know that the Big Issue was a business just like any other. I didn't know that some vendors actually feel safer and more comfortable on the streets and wish to live a simple life without financial headaches. I couldn't have imagined how liberating the Big Issue is for homeless and home-vulnerable people. I didn't know that we are only ever two pay packets away from being on the streets ourselves. All I knew was that it was a great magazine with an ethos I could get on board with. One article I read recently was a vendor profile, detailing how the gentleman had found his way to the kerb. He had been a wealthy stockbroker with a big house and family. Your average middle-class 2.4 children jobby. When his business went bust, he felt like he had to protect his family from financial strife so he didn't tell anyone he was suffering. He went into work 5 days a week to maintain the appearance of normality, when really he didn't have anywhere to be or any work to do. The money frittered away as they continued to spend unaware, until the bailiffs knocked on their door. His wife was so horrified by their fairytale existence that she left, taking the children. The man grew depressed and desperate and when he lost his home he felt that he had nowhere to turn, terrified of losing his social footing by admitting his situation. He was homeless. It really can happen to anyone and at any time.

The next time you walk past someone selling Big Issues, if you don't already, maybe stop and buy one. They're only two pounds. It's not charity, it's not pity, it's not begging. You would be slowly but actively and constructively helping to resolve one of the biggest issues in our modern society, just by buying a magazine. While greed and snobbery breed - and now with government trying to make squatting illegal - homelessness is also going to plague a huge amount of people: we're all vulnerably housed. Plus, they're a bloody good read.

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Troy Davis

It's twenty-two minutes past midnight and I sit and wait. Does an angel contemplate Troy Davis' fate? Robbie Williams lyrics aside, this is purgatory. I heard about the Troy Davis case a few days ago and have been hooked ever since. I am obsessed by the grotesque, usually manifesting as historical obscenities, but this stretches to the grotesque injustice of the American legal system. Soon to be a historical obscenity. For those of you who have missed the scandal, get educated here:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Troy_Davis_case
http://www.amnestyusa.org/our-work/cases/usa-troy-davis
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/sep/21/troy-davis-10-reasons

Hyperbole is all I have right now. The state of this "developed" world really doesn't bear thinking about at this moment. I am utterly flabbergasted: a man who claims to be innocent, has had 7 out of 9 witnesses go back on their word and imply police coersian and has no DNA evidence holding him to the crime is going to be put to death. The Supreme Court is so narrow-minded, they won't even consider seeing these facts as casting reasonable doubt upon the case. This isn't reasonable doubt: this doubt is beyond reason. This is unswerving, insatiable, infallible and irrefutable doubt. If I had this amount of doubt concerning a hair cut, I wouldn't get it. I simply wouldn't fancy my odds.

Tonight, Troy Davis was due to die at 7pm, USA time. Throughout the day, what can only be described as a deluge of opposition has flooded all mediums of social networking. My preferred form of protest has been twitter. To give you an idea of the sheer amount of global revolt, I refresh the page of the hashtag #troydavis and minimise it. In the bottom bar of my screen, the page's name remains with a bracketed number. This number is the amount of new tweets since I last checked. In the time it took me to write that sentence, the number has grown to 200. Had I been writing this two hours ago, in the unbearable run-up to 7pm, that number would be double or triple that. And that's just one hashtag. #thewholeworldiswatching has been trending across the oceans; it makes the hairs on the back of my neck electrify to think I sit here, annexed in my room, square-eyed and tingle-fingered pressing refresh and I am united with hundreds of thousands of civilians. This is the face of modern horror, the one that stares aghast at its computer screen.

The crux of it is this: a potentially innocent man is going to be put to death. To me, it doesn't even matter any more as to his innocence or guilt: that has ceased to be the issue. What is so significant is that we cannot possibly know the answer to that question. That's why I'm horrified. Georgia, America is not a united state. Right now, it is dividing its nation and unifying the world. It is simply absurd how proud the system is, it is a petulant child with the coldest of shoulders against reason and truth and justice. I will admit, I used to have mixed feelings about the death penalty. Part of my mind thought it was potentially a good idea but I think my justification was purely emotive: if you killed my mother, I'd like nothing better than to kill you. I naively attempted to fit this model to the justice system, not realising or caring how flawed and barbaric it was. I can blame such thoughts upon nothing but ignorance; it is situations just like these that reaffirm what I have learnt in the last few years of my intellectual and personal growth. That a life is a life, be that taken from a criminal or a victim and there is not a single person on this planet that could possibly claim to have authority over such untimely ends. I am all for life imprisonment because I think that is worse than death. To kill a guilty person would be to free them: they must be tortured by boundaries and their consciences until their pathetic existence is snuffed out.

It is forty-six minutes past one in the morning. Everything has changed but nothing has. No news. I will be forced to function in six hours but I can't imagine sleeping. If I was a religious person, I'd spend the night praying. Instead, I shall quietly contemplate my faith in justice. I fear it will reap as few results as the former. My faith in mass, outraged and obstinate human tenacity however, is burning and yearns for the powers that be to lend us an ear.

Monday, 19 September 2011

The Woman Booker

For all those who find my wild raving feminist values a little too much (I'm looking at you, Stephen), I've just started a new blog called The Woman Booker. Now, I know what you're thinking - it has the word 'woman' in it so it's bound to be another fanny-based endeavour, but I promise I am merely referencing the Man Booker Prize and the fact that I myself am a woman. It's actually about the Man Booker Prize, funnily enough. I'm trying to blast my way through as many winners as possible, then keep a diary type blog on my reactions to each of them. So far I've written a post on Salman Rushdie's Midnight's Children and it was rubbish because despite it being my favourite book on the planet, I haven't read it in a year and have managed to forget just about everything that happens in it. A dedicated fan, as ever. Fingers crossed my other posts will be slightly better informed and won't suffer from the inefficiency of faded, but nevertheless treasured, memories.

If you fancy a gander, you can find it here: http://womanbooker.blogspot.com/

Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Nadine Dorries: A Few Words

So, Nadine. Here we are again. After you attempted to pass the atrocity that can only be described as a repulsively sexist bill introducing "just say no" sex education to girls while boys get away scot-free - because we all know getting pregnant is entirely the woman's fault (those bloody sluts) - you're back to your old abortion high jinks. Because the last fifty odd years of feminist sexual campaigning really was just a bunch of silly saucy women trying to convince womankind to kill their children and indulge in witchcraft or something else woefully liberal. It's not like they were merely demanding human rights or the opportunity to be worth more than their wombs. It's a perfectly justified fear that all pregnant women are going to start aborting their babies because by law they are allowed to which, if we're thinking logically, is practically encouragement.

Or is it, Nadine? Your latest bright idea is to ban pro-choice charities like the British Pregnancy Advisory Service or Marie Stopes from offering counselling to pregnant women because you believe they are not able to advise women without bias due to their financial dependency on abortions. You think that charities such as these seek to lead women into abortions for their own selfish gains. Nadine, can you hear yourself? As Zoe Williams aptly states in The Guardian, you are using classically liberal anti-capitalist rhetoric in the vain attempt to convince people that charities are capable of persuading women to abort their children for their own financial gains. I know that you are offensively ignorant but I'm sure it's not news to you that charities are non-profit - that's a charity by definition. Your hideous untruths are not only hugely disrespectful to such groups' exceptional expertise and the priceless help they offer to thousands of struggling females but such wild misinformation is also irreparably harmful to their prestige and the public's perception of them, resulting in a lack of faith in those who really are out to protect us. We don't trust MPs - I cannot fathom why - and now apparently we can't even trust charities. And you wonder why we riot.

Have you ever had an abortion, Nadine? Have you ever been given advice by any of these charities? If such charities were giving women unequally weighted advice or misinforming them, do you not think it would have been flagged up by now? Of course you wouldn't assume such a thing: women seeking abortions are probably unable to decipher such a slant, as foolish and 'vulnerable' as they are. In your eyes, such misled women's eyes probably glaze over with all the pro-abortion propaganda and blindly and in comatose state sign an 'X' on the irreversible contract of death. Or something equally sensational and morbid. But perhaps there are one or two sensible women out there who have had an abortion - maybe even other female MPs? - who you could have consulted on the issue before bringing forward such a shamefully uneducated motion? According to both Marie Stopes and the BPAS, you have not made any attempt at contacting them and you have not once stepped into one of their atheist femi-Nazi brainwashing labs, commonly known as 'clinics'. I hate to say it Nadine but I really don't know if you're the type of woman who should be making such life-altering decisions on behalf of 31 million women in the UK. You just haven't done your research and quite frankly, that is just sloppy.

I really cannot comprehend how or why you have found yourself to be in a position of power and trust, Nadine. You logic is that by removing pro-choice charity advice and care from womens' options, the country will see a decline in abortion figures. If less women are getting abortions but the only variable is the advice, that would surely indicate that there are a number of women keeping children from a lack of expert counselling. The motion did not appear to have any strategy or contingency plan: the charities would be barred but there would be offered no immediate replacement. Perhaps after several weeks of personal research and waiting lists, a hypothetical pregnant woman would have found her own counsellor and would have come to the decision that an abortion is the appropriate decision. But of course, you want to change the legal limit to 22 weeks, or 20 if you're lucky, so maybe by that time it will be too late. Is that the definition of pro-life? The baby lives but the mother's life choice has been ultimately taken from her because she has remained confused, marooned and ignorant to her options? I'm all for 'life', personally; I certainly cherish mine. It would appear however that you do not share my sentiments. You are willing to see me make an uniformed decision that would potentially ruin it, because of your own ungrounded, under-researched, crude, dense, unscientific, irrational and vacuous inexperience. Not to mention your religious leanings. I think that is classed as negligence, Nadine.

The press have been all over this issue in a far more eloquent though no less emotive fashion, peruse their thoughts:

Pro-Choice leanings http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/aug/29/are-abortion-laws-under-threat?INTCMP=ILCNETTXT3487
http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/aug/31/abortion-advice-poundland-nadine-dorries
http://www.independent.co.uk/opinion/commentators/christina-patterson/christina-patterson-lets-keep-faith-out-of-politics-2346343.html
Anti-Abortion leanings
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/health/8727344/The-pregnant-pause.html
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/debate/article-2031958/Abortions-Nadine-Dorries-wants-guidance-available-women.html
... and has David Cameron made a correct decision? GOOD GRIEF. Looks like I'll have to eat my hat.
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/aug/31/downing-street-uturn-abortion-proposals

Saturday, 27 August 2011

Post Ed Blues

Hello again, she says in morose tones. I am home after the most marvellous three week Scottish adventure and feeling somewhat flat. After 22 days of early mornings, late nights, mingling with attractive actors ("mingling with" = stalking and giggling over), daily shows, countless warm ups and the occasional funky chicken, it is rather bizarre to plop back into a schedule which holds very little. Wake up, usually mid-morning. Read Lolita a bit - this is usually the highlight of my day. Chat on the phone a bit. Eat whatever tinned good I may happen upon in my larder (yes, my ridiculously old fashioned house has a larder). Do a bit of SUSU stuff. Email a few people. Re-live the glory days, sniffing haggis and crying into my novelty Loch Ness Monster toy. Drink tea. You know the drill. It's exhausting but equally dull. I'm actually looking forward to going back to lectures, merely to give my brain something else to dwell upon. How awful.

In typical and frustrating fashion, we've had a whole host of positive reviews now that our Edinburgh show is all over. Each time I read one - re-reading it eight or so times - my chest gets all fluttery and my arms go all goose-pimply and I feel like bursting with pride and joy and nostalgia. It's rather emotionally draining, I must say. You see, we weren't expecting good reviews. Of course I knew the play was bloody brill but I co-wrote and directed the damned thing so that's to be taken for granted. Student productions seem to so infrequently succeed at the Fringe however, bigger budgets, bigger production teams, better preparation and the like always ousting us from recognition or recommendation. We slip below public eyesight and float in medium appreciation, enjoyed by those who see it but ultimately seen by too few. The latter bore true for us again this time, with our audiences dropping to as few as 7. Though this is the average audience size and is not to be sniffed at, when you're playing to a 150 capacity crowd it seems like an appalling meagre amount, most of the laughs provided by myself and the producers to fill the painful silences. If only such reviews had come out sooner! Alas, it wasn't to be, but I am still incredibly overjoyed to receive such praise for our lovely wee spectacle. Better late than never, eh?
To be horribly self-indulgent and smug, I shall post the review links here so you can all revel in our success with us. Or something. And my mother will appreciate the consolidation if nothing else.

http://www.broadwaybaby.com/edinburgh-fringe/10481-the-spectacular-tales-of-grinburrell
http://www.thenewcurrent.com/2011/08/18/13540/
http://www.threeweeks.co.uk/article/ed2011-theatre-review-the-spectacular-tales-of-grinburrell-southampton-university-students%E2%80%99-union-theatre-group/
http://www.the-u-review.co.uk/The_U-Review/Reviews/Entries/2011/8/20_The_Spectacular_Tales_Of_Grinburrell.html
http://edfringereview.com/reviews/event/TkYv1fcgRRekHxNzwwOIBg
... and of course, I must chuck in a crap one for good measure - my favourite bit is when she calls the characters "faintly irritating". That made me chuckle.
http://www.edinburgh-festivals.com/viewreview.aspx?id=2818
Farewell Edinburgh, I shall attempt to stop obsessing now. See you next year hopefully, if my brother's wedding doesn't collide too terribly. Bloody brothers scheduling weddings to coincide with the Fringe... what madness.

For now though, life is hopefully getting a kick start as I've just managed to blag myself a job. How exciting! I had my first shift at The Crown last night and cripes, was I exhausted by the end of it. I've never worked in a pub before and was left to my own devices within half an hour, having never pulled a pint before in the life. It was disastrous, as you can imagine. I tried to do it like how they do it on television but like a lot of things on television, it wasn't that straightforward. An hour in, I was being hailed as a Boddington's pro. I don't know what Boddington's is or what makes me a pro but I shan't ask questions. Another shift tonight then off to Bali's 21st tomorrow with a trip to Notting Hill carnival on Monday to see me through the weekend. I'm terribly excited. Onwards!

Friday, 19 August 2011

Week Two (and three) up North

It is a rare sunny Sunday in Edinburgh and we have found ourselves coming to the end of week two of our Scottish stint. In just seven days' time we'll be mourning the loss of our play, having put it to bed for the last time the previous day. And we'll definitely be hungover.

It's been another mad week, performing every day to crowds ranging from seven to thirty odd (just to give an indication of the success of such numbers, the average Fringe audience is 4) and every single show has been a good'un. Nobody has walked out before the end (phew) and on their appropriate exit, we've had only positive comments. Not that they'd tell us they hated it, but you know, such comments were offered so we shall take them gratefully and say thank you very much. Flyering has been somewhat gnarly as the driving rain makes giving away pieces of paper to wandering people almost impossible: the flyers are sodden and there aren't any wanderers for miles anyway, only locals grumbling to work with their faces impenetrable to our hopeful approaches. Spirits have been less than high, it's safe to say.

(19.08.11) Bloody poor show, Green. After intending to blog several times a week during the Fringe, as something resembling a diary, I have blogged but once and it's our final show tomorrow. Nightmare. Life is just so busy here, it's unreal. I was even offered a job while here and due to business completely neglected to accept it. Massive oops. I have also become completely desensitized to celebrity sightings and apparently I am now unable to even spot a star when he is sitting right next to me on a cushion in a theatre of ten people, watching a one man physical dramatisation of Bombay life. I shall explain and perhaps you can help: tall, sandy-haired male in mid to late 50s, suited with expensive watch was in the queue for said show I was attending and I thought the man next to me was having a small fit, he was so excited by this apparently rather famous man. People were taking sly pictures of him from across the road (I say sly - they were squealing and jumping and pointing), his autograph was asked for twice and the chap on the door did some kind of absurd bow to him as he walked through the door. But who the hell is he?! I couldn't for the life of me think, so asked a gentleman standing next to me. He was Italian, completely misconstrued my frantic whisper in his ear and gave me his card. Leonardo, a 'visual artist'. So I am none the wiser, though I have a saucy Italian backup plan if it all goes tits up with Bali. Winner. I suppose I will never know who the handsome stranger was - I didn't have the breasts (balls equivalent) to ask him who he was, that would have been highly embarrassing and utterly preposterous.

Last show tomorrow! Madness. I can't believe 16 shows have passed me by. And I still laugh every time. We have had two four star reviews, two (cough cough) two (cough cough) star reviews, and yesterday we were named The New Current's Best Original Student Production 2011 and awarded 5 stars. Bloody hell! Their review is somewhat rushed but it's rather flattering - I will struggle to get through the door of this internet cafe at this rate - so well worth a gander.
http://www.thenewcurrent.com/2011/08/18/13540/

This has been a terrible update, apologies to my two readers. Harri, Mother, I am sorry for such poor content. Better update to come. Promise. For now though, I am off to The Hot Mikado, the jazz years... or some shit. Goodnight.

Sunday, 7 August 2011

Burgeoning Love for the ‘Burgh

So here we are again, back in the copse of culture that is the Scottish capital. I so sorely missed the frivolous and giddy lifestyle that I lived for all of three glorious weeks last August: my return is sweet and I feel as though I have flown the nest but arrived resolutely back home. The disinfected gummy smell of Cowgate, our trusty hostel, submerged me with dormant memories on entering but I have had little time to reflect, fresh mental entries attempting to lay claim to the Edinburgh-shaped cavity in my mind. In Edinburgh I long to be a writer, a director, an actor, a playwright, a producer, a poet, a comedian, a mime, an artist, a star. And for a few brief moments (seventeen performances to be exact, plus the minutes I find myself mid-shmooze), I am able to almost replicate such an existence, the Fringe nonexclusive to amateur fantasizers. For this I owe it everything.

The play officially began its run yesterday: it went tremendously. After a somewhat jolted start – our dress rehearsal the previous day was going swimmingly until a freak health and safety check at the venue forced us into a pregnant pause which lasted a good ten minutes – the cast have found their theatrical feet once more and make me prouder than a new mum. Well, maybe not that much but so proud it makes me inarticulately swear under my breath in an outward pant of “fuuuuuuuck me”. Luckily there were several seats between myself and our underage audience, to whom I merely offered an excitable grin. It was returned. Sixteen punters witnessed the popping of our festival cherry, the number decreasing to twelve after a wailing child and her entourage fled just twenty minutes in. She was definitely too young to see our “suitable for all ages” spectacle. Oops. I think it was the moment where Sophia emits a skin-crawling shriek at being swallowed by a cursed dress that pushed her over the edge, unsurprisingly. During the manic get-in where we have to set up our entire show in a meagre and ungenerous five minutes, Emma, our lovely producer, rushed over to tell me that we were to expect a reviewer. Our first nerve-wrecking, knee-trembling show. Yikes, was I shitting a proverbial brick. In the moments I wasn’t in rapture at our sensational tales – if I do say so myself – I was intently staring at the side of the guy’ head, willing him to laugh and smile and think to himself “this is excellent”. And laugh and smile and think to himself “this is excellent” he did! The latter was confirmed post-play when he shared such sentiments with myself and Emma, to our utter glee. Of course, he may have been lying and could have hated it, his hoots of laughter actually derisive and mocking. But I shall remain optimistic. A positive three star review from the renowned Three Weeks would go down an absolute treat right about now. Baited breath and all that.

The Fringe is in full swing finally and in only two days I have seen something astonishing and something atrocious. Ah, the ups and downs! I love it. The something astonishing was A Clockwork Orange at C +1, a fleshy and indigestible horror show that appalled me beyond repair. My jaw remained on the floor as I watched a smutty sensual homosexual banquet of limbs, sweat and wide eyes, all to a soundtrack of twenty-first century indie anthems. It was flawless. I'd have given it 5* even before they all took their shirts off. In light of such a terrific performance, we stuck around to see the same troupe's production of Titus Andronicus. Our expectations were high, to say the least and they certainly didn't let us down. The only thing that did however was the slightly embarrassing dagger incident that occurred twenty minutes before the end when the misplaced implement accidentally stabbed its possessor and we were all evacuated to let in a crew of paramedics. What a faux pas. The atrocious was Pleasance Dome's Fresher: The Musical, a clich├ęd and vapid account of first year university life. Being a fresher just a year ago I expected the script to be rammed with in-jokes that I would relate to and would cringe to collectively with my peers, but no such jokes occurred. All I was presented with were unbelievably two-dimensional characters and uninteresting tunes which I cannot now remember a single one of. Perhaps my personal fresher experience was anomalous but, as Holden Caulfield would say, I found the whole thing horribly corny. It killed me, it did. 

(cont. 7.8.11) The next few days see us meandering to shows including Some Small Love Story at C Eca (tissues at the ready), Potted Potter, Scary Gorgeous (cannot wait) and I'll probably attempt to see Titus again - I know how it ends but I hate to leave a show unfinished. As for the Grinburrell crew, it's our fourth show today. Wish us luck!

Thursday, 14 July 2011

Sunburnt

I have had a month of adventures. It has been a very special time indeed. First and foremost, I am the horribly proud director of a fantastic show that had its first performance just the other day. After two weeks of frantic rehearsals which saw us all descend into the murky depths of insanity, we have somehow managed to pull a pretty brilliant show together. 'The Spectacular Tales of Grinburrell' was all but an idealistic pipe-dream just a few wee months ago and now it is a living breathing spectacle. And a spectacle which people actually enjoyed, to my humbled relief. Bring on Edinburgh: 22 days, 18 members of cast and crew, 17 performances, 12 hours in a minibus (x2), 3 hostel rooms, infinite hangovers and 1 glorious city. My excitement is boundless.

I also finished the second year of my degree this month; I thought that this would mean my workload would decrease significantly but alas no, I seem to be busier than ever. Further proof that I don't do much in my degree? Possibly. I actually rather enjoyed revising for my exam, as horribly nerdy and eager as that sounds. Though when your exam is on Ulysses, The Great Gatsby, The Waste Land and Mrs. Dalloway, you're hardly likely of becoming submerged by boredom. Come on now, it's not like I study Chemistry. Anyway, my keenness obviously paid off as I have been awarded a juicy 2:1 for the year, despite a certain one Kos Ring attempting to sabotage me with a rogue 57. YOU WILL NOT BE MY DOWNFALL, OH MIGHTY OPPRESSOR! And breath.

As a special treat before the "hard work" of Edinburgh commences (ahem), I thought I should like to take a wee holiday. This manifested as a week of various National Express bus journeys and general debauchery in the shape of Amy's 21st in Aylesbury which lead to four days in Cornwall with the EngSoc massive which seamlessly carried me into Canterbury's festival of delights Lounge on the Farm. I say 'seamlessly' - it actually transpired that I spent approximately 12 hours travelling to the other side of the country, but on arriving at aforementioned festival the sun was shining and the tent had been erected (ooh err) so I could just continue to bloody well enjoy myself. And that I certainly did. What a week! Cornwall was absolutely glorious: the eight of us were staying in a beautiful house 120 seconds away from Polzeath's lovely beach and between those two locations, we were entirely satisfied for the best part of a week. I tried my hand - and strained lymph nodes - at surfing, much to my amusement. I know the object of the endeavour is to stand upon your eponymous board but after several hours over two days and uncountable flailings later, I felt very proud to have achieved this all of about twice for all of about seven seconds in all. Small victories, eh. Apart from being thrown about at sea in gale force winds on a piece of yellow polystyrene, I did nothing remotely strenuous for the entire time: I read To Kill a Mocking Bird, I drank copious amounts of cider, I laughed until I thought I might have an accident at a Chinese lantern based incident... What bliss.

The festival allowed me to continue such a week of relaxation: the food was incredible and the atmosphere was like no other festival I've ever been to. Despite a few 14 year old Lary Larrys who clearly came only to see The Vaccines and Ellie Goulding and who occasionally disturbed the peace, the 'lounging' on said farm was actually very easy to achieve. I spent my days pottering between the Playhouse where one could expect to hear poetry, see the odd pint-sized Shakespearean tragedy, watch some cracking stand-up, partake in a belly dancing workshop or experience the Lord of Lobsters (don't ask); the Tea Teepee for a cheeky chai; the falafel tent and various low-key folk stages where it was the done thing to listen while laying down. What a bizarre experience for a musician to walk onto stage at a festival and be greeted not by throngs of bopping individuals but a sea of lethargically lolling loungers. I wasn't complaining - my lymph nodes by this point, having been forced to endure belly dancing, had well and truly thrown in the towel and I found it almost impossible to lift my arms, rendering me somewhat static. I fit in a treat. Speaking of treats, I discovered some complete gems while reclining at the festival - if you're looking for some excellent new tunes, I point you in the direction of: Kyla La Grange, Daughter, Bucket Boyz (though you really have to be there to appreciate their brilliance), Boot Lagoon, Chad Valley ... Aaron, have I forgotten any?

Had I not written a complete dissertation of a blog, I'd spend a moment or two to reflect on all these Murdoch shenanigans that went on around me during the week. Not that there's much to be said but you know, I usually feel the need to express a liberal-bordering-socialist/ often under-researched opinion on such matters. So here goes: C*nts, the lot of them. Let them rot in jail. And don't even allow them a gym or an X Box. ... Done.

Saturday, 28 May 2011

A Month of Sundays

Before I forget what has happened during the past four weeks, I should probably purge myself of it. Is it neurotic to live in constant fear of forgetting all the best bits of one's life? I guess if those precious moments were as precious as I perceived at the time, I wouldn't forget them. And yet my mind seems rife with trifling details about people and places I don't know or care about or particularly like: I have impeccable recollection of my grocery shopping excursion to International Foods from two Tuesdays ago. I bought a green pepper and 6 eggs and one of them was white and all the rest brown and I had to ask directions to curry powder and I was in fact standing in front of it. A trip down 'Memory Lane' sees me stumbling upon somewhere resembling a foggy cul-de-sac slightly North of Lincolnshire. Most uninspired, I can assure you.


So, here is catharsis. What have I done in the last 28 days? Something vaguely blog-worthy, surely? Deep breath: Black Comedy/petitioning/seven million essays/AGM/(partial)Nestle boycott success/revision/rehearsals/one small nervous breakdown/FemSoc's Women's Aid gig (which lead to...)/Many a jig and jape and good time. Oh and I received one letter from BBC Scotland inviting me on the Weakest Link. See, when put like that, I realise I do actually lead a rather exciting life. Thank goodness for my two marvellous methods of memory jogging: Facebook photo tagging and freakishly anal weekly planning. Looks like I can cancel that abundant order of cod-liver oil. Perhaps a Dictaphone would be a worthy purchase? On hearing/witnessing/experiencing something significant, I've always been tempted to tilt my head towards the imaginary camera which documents my life, raise an eyebrow and in a conspirator's voice mutter into my trusty Dictaphone "Note to self: today you discovered the heavenly joy of peanut butter and mushed banana on toast" or something of equal importance. I'd look like a tool but I'd be smug in my mad memory skill'z'. What a conflict of interests. 


In true broken record style, I'm going to attempt to shoehorn in feminism. Quelle surprise. This month has been an interesting one for fighting gender inequality. Locally, our fund-raiser for the wonderful Southampton Women's Aid was a massive success - many a weep was wept - and pulled in over £700. With government cuts leaving the domestic abuse refuge and service on its knees, FemSoc couldn't resist getting our jape on for such a crucial cause. The fact that fundraising was even necessary for a service which provides relief to hundreds of women and children a year is despicable but one must act as well as gripe and act we did. And gripe we will continue to do. The ConDemed reign of terror also continues nationally, with Nadine Dorries attempting to provide me with ample reason to feel afraid and ashamed of my clitoris and anti-abortion "pro-life" groups infiltrating sexual education in schools. Get the bunting out, ladies, let's enjoy life while we're still allowed to.


Back at FemSoc HQ, we were visited by two fantastic females in the last two weeks. The first was a lady working at a Southampton based day centre for street sex workers and those who are victim of addiction or homelessness. They provide sexual health advice and paraphernalia, food, human contact. It is so humbling to have someone come into our group and talk so frankly about the underbelly of society which many women find themselves ensconced by. Not everyone is born into a family who seek to protect them: love is a luxury. Love is a commodity. During the talk, we learned of women whose own mothers had sold them into paedophile circles at the age of four, and who now, unsurprisingly, have no option but prostitution. And what do you see when you look at a sex worker on the street? Something filthy, unladylike, shameful. We don't see the desperate need for love, the vulnerability, the emotional and economical corruption. Living in England, where human suffering often seems inane in comparison to the atrocities that go on elsewhere, it is easy to forget that poverty comes under many guises, poverty of respect and emotional support being as inhumane as that of financial insecurity. The organisation - and other similar ones - are always looking for volunteers. Fancy helping to shift some hard-set attitudes? Me too. Get on board. 
http://www.twosaints.org.uk/
http://www.catch-22.org.uk/Services/Detail/3D---Southampton


The other lovely lass was dear Valerie Goodwin, playwright extraordinaire and feminist raconteur. Her award-winning play 'The Magdalen Whitewash' tells the harrowing and formidably realistic tales of women under lock and key in the Irish Catholic laundries throughout the 20th century. This scene, so frequently overlooked in history and yet worthy of mass public outrage and horror, was one of grave reality for women who found themselves pregnant or even those with learning difficulties or those suspected of "succumbing to lust". Their families would shun them, dump them in the huge prison-like chambers, and almost never return to collect them post-baby. They were lost property, fated to spend the rest of their lives scrubbing dirty laundry: their brains were washed as they washed clothes. The play is beautifully crafted and has received theatrical recognition from all across the globe, including Ireland itself. Have a wee perusal, friend: http://www.playsandmusicals.co.uk/plays/twoact/drama/magdalen.htm


FemSoc are getting excited about the prospect of reworking parts of the play into a potential production of 'The Vagina Monologues' next year. I'll be attempting to frog-march inequality out of SUSU by reggae nights, Korean film screenings and vaginas. A good place to start, if ever there was one.


Post Script: Rhino kindly reminded me that I had made a gaping omission to this post, so I shall rectify this now. FEMSOC WON AN EVA! Hurrah and yippee and oh baby. We were given the Highly Commended Cup for Innovation for our services to students and SUSU - apparently we tackled some "controversial topics" and made gender equality "something all students could partake in". Because otherwise students wouldn't have been up for retaining equality... They needed Rhiannon and I screaming at them on the concourse before they realised men and women being equal was a good shout. As horrifying as that sounds, we got a shiny glass thing out of it so that's that innit. Fuck yeah, feminism. 

Saturday, 30 April 2011

Easter Japes and Debates

I have shed my Dorset skin and made my cheery way back to Southampton living. The sun is out and lord am I feeling grand. Famous last words but currently not even three stodgy essays due can get me down. I think I am a sufferer of Seasonal Affective Disorder - I am unfathomably happy in this beautiful weather. Friends: be prepared to feel my wrath if it changes any time soon. Apologies in advance.

Easter has been an interesting period. I spent one half at home and the other half at home. The other home. With my other family. This alternative family consists of several people, namely feminists and allies, and our relationships are ones consisting predominantly of emotional support and heavy doses of humour and debauchery. We also endeavour in political chitchat when we have nothing better to do but since our opinions rarely differ, such debates are excellent for re-establishing our initial beliefs but can hardly be deemed challenging. We sit, self-righteously, putting the world to rights. My blood family on the other hand provide ample levels of heated debate so I don't feel like I am missing out on much. Our latest was the AV referendum. A contentious issue when under the roof of one Tory, one Liberal and one floating voter (who reads the Daily Mail), I can assure you.

My father's argument went a little something like this: "First Past the Post isn't properrr democracy but it's the way it's always been and we shouldn't change that". Oh cripes. I understand that to someone who has got used to something, change can seem daunting. Like having to buy a new pair of shoes to replace a really lovely but resolutely worn out pair which you have lived in for five years. They have holes in them and make you an eyesore at any civilised occasion but they used to be great and it's nice to own something so comfortable. But one must step - literally - into a world where shoes evolve with the times ... or something. My argument to my father was then based loosely on the principle that not everything traditional has been great. It used to be a tradition to keep a black slave, that wasn't great. It used to be tradition to beat your wife, far from ideal. You get my jist. I shall say no more - in my last blog someone got offended by an apparently insensitive reference to the Holocaust. Yikes. To conclude: AV is sexy, let's do this shit.

Speaking of insensitive jokes, I couldn't help but get rather peeved with the "boob-gate" story which circulated a few days ago. See http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/culture/lucyjones/100053061/pmqs-whose-boobs-are-these/ if you had the privilege to miss out on such a tale. Thank you Lucy Jones, serious and demure journalist extraordinaire, you've done women all over the country a real favour by reminding millions of people that sexism is inherent and unremitting in politics. Let's all have a good gawp at a young lady's rack because of course, since a small portion is on show, she is fully deserving of such lewd attention. It's not as if she's wearing a really smart suit and she's an extremely professional politician sitting and listening avidly in the Cabinet and the mammary glands that her sex equips her with to feed her young are protruding by approximately one inch. Oh no, wait. If everyone could grow up and accept that women have breasts and some times you can see them, that'd be lovely. It really does make a lass resent being gifted with the means to provide for your newborn. And as for comments which state that it was her fault because she was dressed inappropriately, do me a favour and SHUT UP. That attitude smacks rather sharply of the ignoble dross that imbeciles spout on rape cases: look at what she was wearing, she was asking for it. Nobody ever asks to be raped. And certainly nobody ever asks to have a picture of the crack of their chest circled sloppily on Paint and thrown around the internet like some jaw-dropping pornographic image, completely undermining your already very tricky to maintain sense of political authority. .... And breath.

In related news - SlutWalk is hitting Britain! I expect a blog shall be dedicated to this cause sooner or later so I'll save it until then. But do get involved, it's going to be a riot. Of the best, most "slutty" variety.

http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=197363420301422 - the event

http://www.facebook.com/slutwalkuk - the page

http://www.slutwalktoronto.com/ - the history

Monday, 11 April 2011

Ranting, Relationships and Ritzing.

It's been a while, I know. To you, my one long-suffering reader, Miss Harri Notton, I apologise. Feel free to have your "femme sesh", giggling under the covers, as per. That's usually my motivation to write and today is no different. Though if you could tell me how much you love reading my essays, that'd probably be a help. 


Today, someone I know planted a comment upon my Facebook wall to tell me that my name had gone out in an email from their insurance company. This spooked me beyond belief. I suddenly had wild visions of half of the student population out looking for me, a runaway insurance trickster, with posters "have you seen this girl?" with pictures of me looking much like Bellatrix Lestrange. Snarling and all. Of course, the name dropping was in relation to the blog that they (foolishly) pay me to write for them and when I had sussed this, I felt slightly better before feeling undoubtedly worse. Somehow, the prospect of being a named and shamed economic fiend was slightly more welcome than the notion that I was actually being promoted as a blogger worth reading. I have probably done more to secure my reputation for the former in the last month, henceforth I am pulling up my proverbial socks and aim to spend more time at my keyboard (as opposed to all those hours I spend shredding documents and laughing derisively).


Life has become increasingly more interesting. Of course, with jolly japes comes great responsibility - or something - so stress levels directly correlate with aforementioned merry inclines. I am most certainly not complaining though. You know how people always say "the first rule of a diet is that it always starts tomorrow"? Well I feel that is quite apt for my degree and I. We parted ways some time after December of Fresher year and now we just bump into each other on the odd occasion. Usually it's a social gathering with middle aged people and when asked what I do with my days, I unabashedly abuse my poor old degree, thrusting it at people to make me sound more arty before chiding it for another few months. It just doesn't know where it stands with me.  


In more exciting new, last night I went "Facebook offish" with my new beau, Joe. Chlo and Joe. Mclo. (I know.) Cripes, it was practically written in the stars. Or it was written in the birth certificates at least and that's as good a place as any for something to be written in. I'm cynical about the stars, I've never seen anything written in them; the closest I got was when I once thought I saw Jesus in cloud formation and I'll be the first to admit that I was sceptical of my own vision. I like things to be written by tangible means. Which is why it's now on Facebook. Because nothing is real unless it's on Facebook. As we all know. There's not masses of attention for the Holocaust on Facebook, perhaps that's why some people choose to deny it? ... Sorry, that was most uncharacteristic - I've no idea why I'm being so dry, I'm happy as Larry! Cynicism is a defence mechanism for genuine unadulterated joy. 'Joe', Greek for bringer of many a giggle. 


Meanwhile, back at the ranch - I spent the weekend like a posh person. It was very bemusing but quite enjoyable. My aunt has always wanted to have high tea at The Ritz and she's not currently in tip-top shape so we thought we should all go. Why the bleedin' heck not, eh? High tea we went for and high tea we certainly had. I wanted to get my £40 worth (which was funded by a winning Christmas scratch card, thank you gambling addiction) so I had eight stupidlyandaimlesslysmall sandwiches - sans crusts of course -, three scones - my cousin was all ready to cause a ruckus before I pointed out that the green flaky bits were in fact apple -, and what must have been about four cakes. Om nom. It's intriguing to see how aristocracy, or the illusion of, has radically changed in the last hundred years. The Ritz is now full of Green families, laughing loudly and oohing and aahing the cutlery while frantically snapping pictures of everying, skirting boards included, having spent the last month rooting in their wardrobes for a suitable outfit and trying it on six times to be sure, while the intended (affluent) demographic quietly fades somewhere into the din. The working class looks much like the upper. The only difference is the enthusiasm and the slyly employed faux accents. Luckily, I didn't have a problem there. My Dad, on the other hand, wasn't as successful. But who's serving the fancy diners if we're not? One can assume it would be those lower down the pecking order than the working class, which at The Ritz is Eastern-Europeans, apparently. There's trouble at mill, as my mother insightfully commented. Quite, quite.


I am home for Easter, attempting to get several hundred winks in anticipation for the severe lack thereof heading my way. Post-Easter is set to be sheer havoc: three essays, one exam, Black Comedy, some kind of handover for Equality and Diversity Officer (I'm assuming...?), FemSoc's new era, Edinburgh preparation... Golly. I'd best start sleeping now. Cheerio. 

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Will We Ever Let Go?

So, my kook of an English teacher bucked the trend during my A Level English course: instead of doing the standard (but quite marvellous) 1984AHandmaid'sTaleBraveNewWorld for the module 'dystopia', he picked one of his favourite authors instead. This author was Kazuo Ishiguro and the novel in question was Never Let Me Go. A fine choice, I assure you.


The book charts the cruelly-short life of Kathy H, a woman whose destiny was cast in stone long before she even grew to exist. Kathy is a donor: she is a clone, created solely for the purpose of contributing her vital organs to the citizens of the natural world around her. This is a parallel universe where, because of the success of cloning, all diseases are cured and life expectancy tops 100. The unnervingly normal pseudo-children are schooled in typical boarding type institutions and they feel the same pangs of juvenile angst we mere mortals can recognise. Kathy feels bouts of alienation, joy, sexual desire, maternal instinct - if you've ever felt it, so has she. Ruth and Tommy, the two children to whom the novel is also dedicated, grow up in relative harmony, being largely shielded from the sickening fate that inevitably awaits them. The novel is a 'coming of age' story, a bildungsroman; Kathy is born, is ignorant, is informed, is corrupted. Accepts, donates, "completes". And all with only the faintest trace of reluctance and an infuriating sense of resolution. It is a future-day tragedy: entirely heart-breaking while equally disturbing. Beautiful and yet unfathomably grotesque. 


When I heard there was a film being produced, I pondered the significance of this: as a standard demographic, we are fully capable of approaching enticing literature and we are aware of the boxes a good film can tick: but it is a little unsettling to Hollywoodize a story based upon society's incessant need to pry into the human condition, so much so that lives are paradoxically lost in order to keep others living. It all feels rather too close for comfort, while the horror of such circumstance is distinctly alien. A fantastically brave move and a very rare treat: audiences aren't invited to pick holes in society itself but in society's manipulation of science, a medium usually untouched due to its prestige and bulletproof authority. But do we have anything to worry about? Is cloning likely to ever be a realistic means to an end? I can't imagine the debate will ever be overruled on a mass scale: but what of the research that is going into producing exterior cells to replace corrupted versions within? Or babies born to cater to the needs of their critical sibling? My Sister's Keeper may appear to be nothing but a hideously devastating sob-fest but it speaks volumes in terms of the ethical debate that surrounds such literature and now this rather wonderful adapted film: if faced with inevitable demise and the addition of scientific accessibility, the question is less 'how far are we willing to go' but 'how far aren't we'. 


Selfishness is inherent to the human instinct to survive, so why is it so horrendous that we may one day come to this very conclusion, allegorised so stunningly by Ishiguro? Of course it is a complete manipulation of life itself but is that not the same as medicine, vaccines, abortion? We can design our babies these days and we've cloned an entire living being (never mind it was a sheep, it was flabbergasting); it was only a matter of time before literature caught up and condemned. It has a wonderful habit of doing that. For my part though, I simply can't rest assured that this will forever be merely one notion adopted by 'dystopia'. Never Let Me Go sparks a debate which is literally a matter of life and death. Not the obvious choice for cinematic reinvention, but utterly provocative in a timeless and yet worryingly local fashion. 


Do read it. Do watch it. Do wonder. And do worry(?) 

Monday, 17 January 2011

Ah, so that's why I voted Clegg!

... I knew there must have been a good reason. With all of the fiasco surrounding tuition fees, I had forgotten entirely why I had bothered to vote for the hapless twit, other than the fact that it was tactically worth it. (Or not - my wee country town in the deepest depths of Dorset is hideously Conservative, if you can believe it.) But amidst all the blunders and promises broken, I see a liberally charged golden orange glow on the horizon. And it comes in the shape of maternity leave.


At long bloody last, the government are making headway with the whole "equality" thing. Just as Labour were on their way out, they came up with the brilliant scheme of reshuffling the maternity/paternity inequalities: it was like the pangs of excitement of looking forward to the free toy in the box of cereal, only to find your brother had snuck to the kitchen at 7am and snatched it while you were in contented slumber. Or something equally frustrating.  But now, apologetic face a thing of the past, Nick Clegg reveals his plans to revamp this oh-so-close notion, starting as early as April. These plans will see women receiving one year of maternity leave but if after six months they wish to return to work, their partner can take over for the remaining time. What a brilliant idea, why has no-one thought of this before? Oh wait... Sorry Gordo. 


It's about time, really. Now that there are statistically more women going to university than men, the notion that women must ultimately part ways with their professional lives for a good few years without the hint of choice is, as Clegg says, an "Edwardian" idea. And the women who didn't go to university, who spent all those years making ground with their skills, their careers - all is not necessarily lost. And the women who suffer from Post-Natal Depression, there is light at the end of the tunnel. And the men who yearn to watch their baby's first steps, there is hope. And the men who are simply better carers than their other halves, a moral victory at last. By social constructs set in place which see maternity leave at a year and paternity leave at a measly two weeks, we have been forcing our women to stay at home and forcing our men to stay in the workplace. That's fantastic for those that want that. My mother stayed at home and my father continued to build and plumb and that worked out just fine for us. But in the 21st century where female prospects are continually on the rise, parters must be given more than one viable option. This isn't just about biology any more. This is social change, sexual politics, gender-role evolution. And ultimately, the unrelenting hunt for equality. When the government implement rules, regulations, laws and acts to ensure that there will be no discrimination based on gender in all realms of life,be it the workplace, marriage, politics or sex, it seems preposterous that this hasn't been tackled before. This is fundamental sexual stereotyping, literally at the root of life itself.


I am very excited. I am looking at a potential, hypothetical and of course entirely fantasy future, where I come home from work (I'd had a terribly busy day curing AIDS/ writing a hard-hitting article/ filming a documentary/ presenting Blue Peter) to find my hubbie (Aaron Johnson circa Kick Ass) bouncing our baby boy, Jacob, on his knee while our little girl, Iris, toddles about in a This is What a Feminist Looks Like onesie. I'm practically counting down the days.

Wednesday, 5 January 2011

Cripes.

Things said of me yesterday:


a 'knit-your-own-yoghurt-sandle' woman
'Feminist Misleads Students'
'Comrade and Glorious Leader Most Hallowed Chloe Green' (personal favourite)
 "her big words are going to end her with a libel case"
"What have you done now?"
Chloe Green: Misleading the public since 1990
Maybe that's why her hair is so big. It's full of FEMINISM.
Tovarich Green
The biggest feminist misleader the world has ever seen


"I'm getting a jumper with Chloe Green's face on the front and on the back:
'Liberal Feminist Misleading Tour 2011'
And all the things she does that mislead me this year added as we go along."



Crikey, what a day. And to think, all I tried to do was suggest we stop eating a few KitKats because Nestle are evil killers. Imagine if I'd said we should all stop eating anything unethical... I think they'd lynch me. 


The SotonTab article needn't even be discussed, it is beyond laughable, so I shall ignore it entirely. Even laughing at it is more than it deserves. 
The comments on the Wessex Scene however, are far more productive and thought-provoking. A lot of people seem to find issue in my "enforcing my personal ethical agenda on people". Hmm, that's an interesting one. It would seem that way, wouldn't it? The article was designed to initiate debate, research and interest and it has definitely succeeded there. I wanted everyone to know what was going on and get this issue thoroughly into people's minds. Again, I think in that sense it was a success. I do not want to enforce my own personal ethical agenda on other people: I want to make them aware of an issue that often slips under the radar and then, hopefully, they will stand beside me. Unfortunately not many have. 


I understand that people have an individual choice but as a Students' Union, we have a responsibility to practise ethically. We are in a position of privilege, where we could be standing firm on not condoning such radically sinister behaviour. If one wanted to buy a KitKat, they could simply buy it elsewhere. I am not forcing anybody to never eat Nestle again. If you're that desperate, simply pop to one of the vending machines on campus (unfortunately they are owned by the university itself, not the union, so Nestle would be freely available close by). With over 70 universities in the country boycotting the corporation, why are people so aghast that we unite with them? 




There are also complaints about the lack of purpose a boycott supposedly has. It's easy to see why people would say this: after 33 years, Nestle are still going strong. But surely we should be dignified and horrified enough by these proceedings, that buying into this company is a detestable idea that we would simply not want to indulge in? I am fully aware that SUSU not purchasing a few chocolate bars a month will not blot their finances in the slightest. They will not have even heard of Southampton University, let alone economically rely upon us. But that isn't the point is it? It should be a case of: 'Nestle are despicable. Let's not support them. KitKats don't taste so great anymore.' A SUSU boycott will not take the world by storm but it will influence 20,000 people. It will raise awareness. It will mean that people are more careful of what they buy into. Which can only be a good thing... right? It's all relative, it would be a small success but a success nonetheless. 


And for those people who say that I am selfish or lazy or idle because a boycott simply isn't enough: why the bloody hell aren't you getting behind me then? Rather than criticise me, if you think more should be done HELP ME. Calling me a 'slacktivist' when I have at least made a valiant effort to get this party started is so hypocritical. If I'm not doing "enough", you certainly aren't! These comments are the ones that annoy me most, more so than the anti-feminist ones (which, by the way, is entirely irrelevant. If someone wrote this article and they were Muslim, that certainly wouldn't be commented upon. It's just meaninglessly discriminatory but gets away with not being so because it's not classed as a religion/race). They are devoid of any kind of progression or assistance; they contradict themselves by claiming that I am in some way a woman who cares from the comfort of her living room, but these people are making themselves feel better for not boycotting by stating that a boycott isn't enough. ... From the comfort of their living room. I will be standing on my own in front of almost one hundred people at union council in a few weeks time, battling for this until I'm blue in the face. Maybe I'm not the one who should be trying harder? Cripes indeed.


So anyway, Nestle has officially ruined my degree. I have done no work in two whole days. Bugger.