Thursday, 28 March 2013

Why Some Jokes will Never be Funny

The other night I was watching some comedy show with my housemate. Predictably there were a number of sexist jokes, including reference to sexual assault, which I expressed my frustration at. As expected, there were numerous gags to come which weren't particularly inclusive either yet, for some reason, I didn't find these quite so offensive. Of course my housemate picked up on this.

There are certain things I feel incredibly passionately about, particularly feminism,  however I am more than happy for my views to be challenged. It's important to be reminded of why you believe certain things as opposed to just following the (feminist) crowd and picking up on the latest buzzwords.

So why, as I've recently been asked, are we allowed to laugh at jokes about all manner of tragic things, such as murder, yet rape humour remains, well, plain unfunny? What sets sexual assault aside as a subject which should not be made light of? And there is your answer! Sexual assault is made light of every single day. Yes we may joke about murder however society seems pretty on board with the fact that this is a big no-no. When it comes to rape, on the other hand, people still appear to struggle with some pretty basic definitions.

I'm sometimes accused of being too nice (yeah that threw me as well) when I jump to someone's defence but people are missing the point. This isn't about me. If you pull someone up on an offensive joke you're not being a prude/politically correct/overly sensitive. You're making a stand against those people who think it's okay to play out such 'jokes' in real life. Because they do exist and people will continue to defend them. Don't make it any easier for them by coaxing others to laugh at such scenarios.

Saturday, 29 December 2012

*Obligatory New Years post*

I started this blog a couple of years ago and one of my early posts involved telling the world (or, more accurately, my eleven whole readers) how I was going to start afresh and make the following year my best yet. In the interests of not setting myself up for failure this time round, I've decided to bypass the usual list (run more, eat less) and come up with a slightly easier one to adhere to:

1). Stop drunk tweeting
As a twitter addict, it seems only right that every move is documented (whether alcohol induced or not). Even so, there's no worse accompaniment to a sore head than scrolling down the previous night's tweets in horror.

2). Become a domestic goddess
And by this I mean wash my dishes and learn how to bake something that has ingredients beyond Betty Crocker mix.

3). Learn how to curl my hair
I got heated rollers for Christmas and it's about time I learnt how to use them!

4). Continue the search for a Mulberry bag
This may seem frivolous to some however I am a firm believer that a designer handbag is a wardrobe investment. I would never dream of paying full price for one (mainly because that would involve giving up food for a month) and so my main hope is in the form of one of their outlet stores. Keep your fingers crossed for me!

I'd come up with more but they'll only make me feel bad about myself. It's like we store up all of the things we don't like about our lives until January when we embark on a month of self-loathing and pity (with zero money in our bank accounts). I like the way lots of other bloggers have taken a more positive stance when rounding off their year. Lily Melrose has looked back over her outfit posts and Emily Schuman has documented some of her memories through her gorgeous photography.

Despite some momentary blips, I guess 2012 has been a pretty good year for me, too. Having started the year watching the Sydney harbour bridge fireworks, I went on to hold a koala bear, run through the Mersey Tunnel, leave home (for the second time), attempt to surf in Devon, dance the night away with one of my best friends in Sweden, attend my first post secret event and give a presentation on what Sex and the City has done for feminism. It's been a blast.

Happy New Year x

Sunday, 9 December 2012

Real Hangover Cures

The festive season is upon us which means one thing: hangovers (hopefully you'll have other things to remember Christmas 2012 by but we all know that overindulging is a certainty). As a result, some kind of recovery guide is normally only a few clicks away. Coupled with new medical developments you'd be forgiven for thinking that hangovers should be a thing of the past.

I'm sure most of us can testify that this is very much not the case (unless you can afford to be hooked up to a drip for a few hours). Last Saturday, feeling so rough that I had to ask my local pharmacist for a cure, I turned to google to see if the internet had any words of wisdom to get me on the road to recovery. Unfortunately many of 'tips' I came across involved altering the previous night's behaviour. Now for those of us without a time machine, we need another way to combat the consequences of failing to alternate our rum with soft drinks. So, in the interests of keeping us all well and ready to get back out on the dancefloor, I have compiled a list of real hangover fixes. You are welcome.

1). Make like a Coyote (Ugly) and say no to H20
All the 'experts' out there rave about the healing powers of water the morning after. I disagree. Instead try some lemonade/sprite or orange squash. The sugar will (probably) make you feel a little perkier and it's a lot easier to stomach than water when you're feeling really ill.

2). Prescription medication
Okay this one's a bit naughty however is certainly worth mentioning. A few months ago I was prescribed anti-sickness tablets (Buccastem in case you're interested) which I didn't use up. Luckily I had the foresight not to get rid of the remainder as these bad boys are now my lifeline if I've over done it on the wine. Unfortunately I only have one left and so I'm guessing this hangover cure will soon be no longer (unless any Medics out there fancy making a bit of money on the side...?).

3). Non-prescription medication
An alternative to the above is to dose up on over the counter remedies. My personal favourites are Paracetemol (I've heard it's easier on your stomach than Ibuprofen) and Berocca although my housemate swears by Original Andrews Salts.

4). Carbs
I think most people agree that some kind of food is needed however why go down the nutritious route when you have the perfect excuse to gorge yourself on refined carbohydrates and junk food? A hangover is one of those magical times where the calories just do not count.

5). Therapy
So we've talked about the physical effects of a hangover but what about the mental distress you're probably facing? Forget reliving the night's shenanigans (for a moment), alcohol is a depressant and so even if you thought you were well behaved, you're still likely to feel a bit mopey the next day. My go to activity when this happens is to find someone non-judgmental and use them as your own personal therapist for half an hour or so. It's good if you have a mutual arrangement with a sibling or housemate (these tend to be the people that will still tolerate you even after you've stumbled downstairs in last night's clothes). They will help you get things into perspective (particularly important if there was any wine-induced inappropriateness) and give you a boost to carry on with your weekend. If you're feeling particularly ambitious you could try some light exercise for an endorphin rush or, for the weaker amongst us, put on a DVD and enjoy a well earned duvet day.

6). Damage control
Apart from the obligatory apology texts, my best advice is to pretend it never happened.

For some more sensible hangover cures see here and here.

Saturday, 24 November 2012

Back to Basics


Anyone who follows me on twitter will know I'm a sucker for a good feminist debate. I'm that person who quotes Caitlin Moran on a regular basis, thinks rape culture is a perfectly legitimite topic on a night out and has no qualms with pointing out when a colleague has made a sexist remark.

Recently I've become very conscious that a lot of my views have come about since I started working in the Student Movement. A few years back, when I began my time as a Student Officer, I didn't really appreciate the feminist argument (I was too preoccupied with the worry that the Women's Officer might want to ban pole dancing). Fast forward to today and it's become an integral part of my life and what I believe in. It would be silly to pretend that these beliefs haven't been influenced by the environment I've worked in for the past three years. Students' Unions are absolutely brilliant for their stance on equality and desire to make everyone feel safe and included. I think they're fairly unique in that sense. As a result this is often on my radar. Even when there's a topic I don't feel particularly strongly about, when I'm with people who don't come at it from an officer/adviser/general Union-ista's stance, I will often get defensive on behalf of the minority group in question. A good example is the gender neutral toilet debate. Not something I spend a great deal of time pondering however last night I found myself automatically explaining the merits of it just because it came up in conversation and, well, I felt I should.

I'm often surrounded by people who have similar views to me on feminism and so there's no real need to defend my beliefs on a day to day basis. However when I'm with different groups of people, there's a need to legitimise what I'm saying with well-reasoned arguments. This is where I often fall down. Feminism is now in the spotlight and there's a plethora of well written pieces in support of the movement. In my excitement to discover all of this, however, I've almost forgotton where my own beliefs actually stem from and why they're important to me (and not the author of the vagenda blog, for instance). I've therefore often bypassed the core arguments which have made me feel a certain way and headed straight to buzz words like 'safe space' and 'equality' in order to uphold a view which I'm not fully certain is even my own.

Take my previously cited example of rape culture. Last night a friend said something along the lines of girls being stupid for dressing promiscuously. I'll admit, I found it difficult to distinguish my emotional response ("I can't believe you just said that!") from a more reasoned rebuttal. This could have been down to the fact I'd already had a couple of glasses of wine or, quite simply, because I'm not normally in an environment where I'm required to defend this topic.

I think it's important that we all challenge our own views. Not to fit in with what others think but to feel comfortable that they really are our own. In the same way people with a religious upbringing may question whether their faith stems from those around them, I'm now questioning why I hold certain beliefs. I'm hoping this will strengthen my feminist argument so that next time I'm sat there open mouthed at a friend's comment I can actually put together a coherent response.

(For the record, I'm a feminist because I believe that both genders should be valued equally, which they currently aren't, and not just because I quite liked Caitlin Moran's witty take on female body hair.).

Saturday, 22 September 2012

Wanted: Role Model

I was watching a programme about female role models the other night which I think needs to be compulsory viewing for anyone who works with young people/the media. It basically illustrated how many young girls have no interest in making a name for themselves through hard work, instead harbouring ambitions to marry into success or to let their image do the talking. This is, of course, all a little misleading. All of these so called 'shallow' icons (Katie Price, Kim Kardashian, etc) have certainly put the hours in to get where they are today. However, as the programme acknowledged when interviewing TOWIE's Amy Childs, this hard work isn't always so visible (and can lead to young people viewing certain paths as the easy option).

We were then shocked with statistics telling us how few girls could name a female scientist/politician/business woman. I was actually horrified by the fact that I also struggled to come up with many myself. Having always considered myself as having ambition beyond what handbag I'd eventually like to own, it's worrying to realise that I'm probably more familiar with Emma Watson's style evolution than any great scientific discoveries made by a fellow woman. It's not that I don't care. It's just that, as the programme said, women don't tend to be talked about quite so much as men for reasons other than what they look like or who they're dating. This is a subject close to many feminist's hearts, with Caitlin Moran even dedicating a whole chapter of her book to role models (I'm seriously trying to mention this woman in as many posts as possible!).

It wasn't all doom and gloom. The programme also took three work-shy young girls and paired them with mentors (such as the founder of Nails inc and the CEO of a charity) in order to show them that there's more to life than fake tan and becoming a WAG. As predicted, once these girls had been shown an alternative, they were all for the world of work.

As many people say, feminism often deals with economic issues. Your aims in life are largely a sum of your background and education- if you've never been inspired to believe that hard work will get you places (places which allow you to keep your clothes firmly on) then of course you're more likely to be drawn in by a job which promises fame and glamour. Life can be mundane and uninspiring if you don't have people to look up to, people to show you that things can get better. So instead of frowning upon the girls who see themselves as the next Katie Price, why not ask ourselves if society has done enough to show them that there are other options?

I just want to end on an observation. I googled 'CEO' to see if there were any fitting images for this post. Needless to say, I was greeted by countless photos of men with a mere scattering of women, the third of which was CEO Barbie (as seen above). I think it says a lot when google ranks a plastic doll more highly in relevance than real, living and breathing women.

Monday, 17 September 2012

Green eyed monster

I like to think that I follow an eclectic mix of bloggers however, more often than not, they have one thing in common. Whether they're writing about fashion or feminism, I can't help but get a bit of an inferiority complex as I work my way through my reading list. Of course bloggers want you to view their world through rose tinted Ray Bans and are very selective about what they post however, as the following points show, it's not just their writing style I'm pining after...

The Fashionista

It's currently London Fashion Week and any blogger worth their shiny Cambridge satchel is out there photographing every moment of it. I always knew fashion blogging wasn't for me however, thanks to twitter, it's incredibly easy to feel left out of something you weren't even sure you wanted to be part of to begin with. I guess when your life seems to comprise of rum-induced disasters you do start to question your extracurricular activities.

The (Health) Foodie

If, like myself, you count blueberry muffins as one of your five a day you're bound to feel the guilt when reading someone rave about their latest healthly concoctions. For some reason I often find myself reading said blog whilst eating chocolate digestives, every bite reminding me of why I will never be able to wear that studded crop top from Urban Outfitters I have my eye on.

The Rich Kid

These kinds of blogs are pure escapism (oh how I long for the day when I can afford Mulberry accessories) with the sole purpose of illustrating just how fabulous the writer's life is. They also make me resent the fact that I am probably sat in my H&M jeggings on my lunch break rather than wearing Prada on a boat.

I realise this could possibly be one of my more negative blog posts. It's not supposed to be. I genuinely love reading these kinds of blogs and a little bit of envy is totally worth the potential outfit ideas/new recipes/general enjoyment I get out of them. In short, the rich, clever, witty, and beautiful people should keep writing (but perhaps throw the rest of us some more tips along the way, yeah?).

Thursday, 16 August 2012

Six years later...

It's funny how A Level results day always prompts people to reminisce about their school days and ponder the direction their lives could have taken had they chosen differently. Like many people, my life has taken on a very different path to those I was toying with in sixth form (mainly because I didn't know the role of 'Advice Coordinator' existed back then but that's beside the point).

For some reason I had my heart set on doing Biomedical Science at University despite a clear lack of ability and interest in the area. Having shunned the subjects I actually had a decent level of understanding in, I embarked on what was to be three years of pretending my degree didn't exist. Instead I threw myself into extracurricular activities from the word go (gospel choir in fresher's week, anyone?) and learned just how amazing the Students' Union was. Of course this stood me in good stead for going on to work in the student movement and I genuinely believe that had my course been more riveting the opportunity to get involved in the Union might have passed me by.

On the flip side, not doing what I was really passionate about meant that my last memories of education are not great. Don't get me wrong, I adored University, but that was more to do with my new found independence as opposed to lectures and lab sessions (those weeks of sketching rat brain were the worst of my life!).

So six years later what have I learnt? Not much in the area of my degree but we all know that learning is hardly restricted to academia:

1). Don't pick a subject because it sounds clever!
 This may be obvious but it's so easy to get sucked into something because you like the way it sounds (I guess this goes for job roles, too). A few impressed looks were so not worth trying to get to grips with cell biology.

2). Blessings in disguise do exist.
I ended up at my insurance choice as I missed out on the grades I needed however I can honestly say that I can't imagine spending my student days anywhere else. Not that underperforming in your exams is to be encouraged however in my case this actually worked out pretty well!

3). There's usually another way.
Unless you're looking at a really specific career (such as Medicine or Dentistry) then you can often find your own way into a job. I'm not saying it's easy but sometimes you just need to explore your options at your own pace rather than following your life plan to the last detail. As the majority of the twitter world have been saying to those getting results, today does not need to dictate the rest of your life. You have more power than you realise to change direction and so don't let less than perfect grades lead you to compromise your ambitions.