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.

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:

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.