Monthly Archives: May 2014

The Bystander Effect

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Two women are woken up by the sound of a woman screaming and being physically abused by her boyfriend in the street. Instead of ringing the police, they go back to sleep and then bitch about it on facebook the next morning. I call them out on it. I get called an “ugly bitch” for “starting conflict”.

Said women are now blocked, panic attack is over. But it enrages me that people like this exist. It’s like the time my boyfriend, as a teenager, went to defend a guy getting beaten up on the train and got beaten up himself. There were people everywhere, and not a single one got up to help, or even pull the emergency stop lever. He called them out on it afterwards, and unsurprisingly, nobody would look him in the eye.

I hope you, who are reading this, are not one of these pathetic excuses for people.

Snow White vs The Evil Queen: Some thoughts on feminism’s “generation gap”

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Brilliant article on how patriarchy turns women – even feminists – against one another.

glosswatch

A couple of years ago, on my 37th birthday, I went to see Snow White and the Huntsman. It’s a Hollywood film so it probably goes without saying the gender politics were unimpressive. Nevertheless, this film really pissed me off. It’s everything that’s terrible about how mainstream feminism is marketed and it’s a bloody fairy tale. Just what is wrong with the world?

Charleze Theron’s Ravenna, the villain of the piece, is a cross between Tampax Pearl’s Mother Nature and Valerie Solanas. She is pitched against Kristen Stewart’s Snow White, who is young, beautiful and feisty, all set to overthrow a patriarchal regime that demands all women be young, beautiful but not particularly feisty. Snow White rebels by remaining young and beautiful while also having agency™ and being empowered™ – go her! Meanwhile Ravenna, the Evil Queen, can only maintain her youth and beauty by being evil. Deep down…

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Wee Hour Insomnia

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I apologise in advance for the messy, meandering quality of writing here. Lack of sleep does not beget creativity or consistency.

Morning insomnia is not my usual type, but when the cat woke us up this morning, it decided to pay me a visit anyway. I got rid of the cat by psshting at it through the door, and after its second attempt to get me to come feed it several hours earlier than usual, it gave up.

Too late, though. I was awake at 5 a.m. and in a baaad mood. In hindsight, watching that horrible reality show last night was a stupid idea (“Who Wants To Marry My Son?”, a French thing in which women with insufficient self-respect attempt to seduce men whose mothers take up far too much space in their lives, either by seducing the impossible mother as well, or using sexual charms to persuade the son to defy her). Reality shows in general tend to sap my faith in humanity, but this one was more draining than entertaining. In my defense, I only watched it because my boyfriend and flatmate were watching it, and I had a bolero to finsh.

The show finished around half one, so I got to sleep a bit before 2 a.m., and was awake by five thanks to the bloody cat. That makes a bit more than three hours’ sleep, after a day spent running around for potential future employers.

I didn’t tell you about that though, did I? It’s not bad news. Thursday was my day for job offers, apparently – a clothes shop that I really like rang to ask me to do four (unpaid) hours as a test the next day, followed by an interview. While I’m not sure making people work 4hrs unpaid is entirely legal, I’m still glad I did it because I learned two things that bolster my self-esteem: 1) My calm (HAHA), discreet appearance actually makes me a more effective salewoman, since I seem unimposing and put people at ease; and 2) I can stay on my feet for four hours straight without getting backache as long and you don’t ask me to stand still for too long. I also got a glimpse of what it’s like to work in a clothes shop, which is cool because now I can write about it.

The boss said no, though, because I had too much trouble putting all the clothes away in the right places even after they’d shown me around. You try differenciating between three types of baggy trousers displayed in three different sections of the shop, all dark blue linen with elastic waistbands.

When I got out, thank god for my boyfriend, who was waiting with a smoothie and some chocolate (it was nearly 3p.m. and I hadn’t eaten… reeeally not sure this was legal) and drove me home while I devoured the lot.

When I got home I rang the other person who’d rung me the day before with a job offer, and told her I’d been refused at the clothes shop and was therefore free to mind her kids. Once again, nine months of unemployment are all I can take before falling back on the only profitable thing I seem to be any good at. I’m not entirely sure what possessed me to agree to meet them a few hours later that same day (in another town, 40mins away, near Brussels, during rush hour). I was so tired I somehow forgot how tired I was. I regretted it for the next two hours, sitting in the sofa wanting nothing more than to fall asleep, but after eating one guarana seed (yuck), several goji berries and a couple of cocoa beans to keep me calm on the road, I set off, and it was alright. Until the GPS got me lost in the Flemmish countryside on the way back, anyway, but that’s another story.

So. I’m nannying again. I’m not entirely happy about it. I can’t help but think of it as a step backwards, a sort of failure to find better work. I know I shoudln’t complain. I’m actually in a state to work now, and I’m not even on meds any more. I should be proud of myself for getting this far. Besides, it’s only two, maybe three nights a week, it’s only for two months for now, and it’ll probably do me a lot of good (if nothing else, children are antidepressants). But…

You know that thing you do sometimes where you keep imagining conflicts in your head? How it can sometimes become so invasive, it prevents you from sleeping, even after a really long, stressful day and only three hours’ sleep. I just wish my brain wouldn’t do that.

5 Things Nurses Want You To Know But Can’t Ever Tell You

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It’s always good to get a glimpse of what it’s like from another point of view.

Thought Catalog

ER: The Complete Seasons 1-15ER: The Complete Seasons 1-15

1. We cry at home for you.

Nurses might seem like we have it all together while we are working hard to take care of you, but the truth is that sometimes after a particularly heavy shift, we cry our freaking eyes out over your/your families pain. Sometimes the stress of taking care of you while you are very critically ill is not only mentally, but also physically exhausting. We spend twelve hours at a time running around to get all of the supplies we need for your various tests, procedures, medications, and therapies, but really wish we could spend more time just holding your hand. Lots of people tell us “We don’t know how you can be a nurse! I could never do what you do.” Well, the thing is, we have all those same feelings too. The emotions that we have from watching a…

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Writing process tag thingy

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What am I working on at the moment?

In theory, I’ve got four writing projects going on right now:
– Glimmerlands
– This illustrated childrens’ story thing about schizophrenia (wordless)
– Revisited fairy tale parodies (French)
– Writing challenge by my bf that ended up inspiring me. I had to write a sci-fi from the POV of a cat, containing an unpredictable character that knows it’s a story character. (French)

In practise, I’m pretty much blocked on the Glimmerlands and fairy tale projects, the wordless illustrated one being my current passion. And it’s nearly summer. I want to spend all my time playing guitar in the park.

How does my work differ from others of its genre?

I dunno, I’m the one writing it? I honestly have no idea. I think being bilingual means I take a certain care over the meanings of words, and how they might translate. I already have the French name for the Glimmerlands. I tend to spend ages naming characters because I want the meaning AND the sound of the name to be relevant. Other than that, I’m still finding my own style. I tend to concentrate on creating realistic characters to go in fantastic worlds. If you find my characters unrealistic, or my descriptions flat, let me know.

Why do I write what I do?

I can’t help it. Writing is a bit like a drug for me; I can’t not do it. Writer’s block is the worst thing ever.

Other than that, though, I would like to change the way my readers think. Even just temporarily, I’d like to inspire them, make them feel, make them think, put them in someone else’s skin, let them see a different world, change the way they see ours. That’s why I write for others.

How does my writing process work?

Very good question. Erratically, seems to be the answer. It has a will of its own and is mostly unpredictable. Reacts badly to pressure except on those occasions when it doesn’t.

The following people inspire me:

ChezNanoyo – My partner in life and in crime. Also a pretty good writer. Far more productive than I am, types too fast for me to compete with, writes exclusively in French but changes genres as often as socks.

InconsistentlyYours – Has taught me a lot about living with Borderline Personality Disorder. She does YouTube videos about it the way I do about depression, and is so incredibly open and honest that I can’t help but admire her.

PritiShikotra – Music and wedding photographer, traveller, friend since primary school and one of the most positive people I’ve ever met.

Glosswatch – Feminist blogger. Explains complicated things so that people like me can understand them.

Zen|Xen – Writer, editor, incredibly interesting person. Very useful writing tips mixed with fascinating anecdotes, all brilliantly written, of course.

TheyCallMeMummy – Because although I no longer work in childcare, it still interests me as a subject, especially when told in humour.

I’m certain I’ve forgotten someone. Never mind.

To make-up or not to make-up

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I’ve been spending a week with my mother and sisters, and the stay has mostly been peaceful and wholesome and I feel a lot more relaxed and stable now. On Wednesday I had one of my best friends over from another town, and we talked non-stop, and it was a lot of fun.

Until we got on the subject of hair and make-up, as women often do, and she started giving me unsollicited advice. If I cut my hair into a fringe then it would cover up my (admittedly high) forehead and frame my face better, and all I’d have to do to counter the cow’s lick which has prevented me from having a fringe since childhood would be to get up a bit earlier every morning and blow dry it into place. While I’m at it, I could put on just a bit of mascara, and maybe a bit of eyeliner, because my eyes are hidden behind my glasses all the time and it’s such a shame because they’re pretty and blue, and I should flaunt them a bit more. Of course, she wasn’t asking me to do the whole thing with foundation and all, and it’s only a fringe, how long can it take? And my mother and sister agreed that it would look good on me.

The thing is, I know that a fringe and a bit of make-up would look good on me. This is not a revelation to me. I know how to put on make-up because I learned, like everyone else, when I was a teenager, and like most teenaged girls, I did go through a phase where I put make-up on almost every day, if only to see how much of it I could get away with in school. It didn’t take me long to realise that putting make-up on every day – or doing my hair, for that matter – were not priorities for me. I still get dolled up for parties and interviews and such, but when I get up on a normal morning with nothing special going on, I just wash my face and brush my hair and that’s it.

There’s a reason I don’t do the make-up and hair thing, and that is because I don’t want to. But that didn’t seem to suffice as a reason. She didn’t get why I wouldn’t want to get up forty-five minutes earlier every morning to make myself look more attractive. She didn’t understand how my physical appearance wasn’t a priority for me, or how I could be perfectly comfortable knowing that I’m not particularly good-looking most days. “Who should I be trying to impress?” I asked, and she replied “Nobody, just yourself.” But if it’s for me and me alone, then I’m the one who gets to decide if it’s worth it, right? The irony didn’t seem to penetrate, however, and she spent the next twenty minutes – she’s as stubborn as I am – trying to persuade me to do as she said. In the end I flat-out said “I refuse!” and she pulled her tongue out at me before finally moving on to something else. (The reason we both get on has a lot to do with a common mental age.)

The whole incident bothered me, though. This friend knows that I’m bi, and has never put into question how I can feel attracted to both men and women. She knows I’m non-monogamous (or have been, it depends, we go through phases) and although I know she has no idea what compersion feels like, she’s never tried to persuade me that it was an invalid lifestyle. But my choice to not give up 45mins of my time every day to make myself look better baffled her so completely that she’ll probably bring it up again next time I see her.

My middle sister came round yesterday and agreed that while the suggested modifications would suit me, nobody was forcing me to put make-up on. Both my sisters – including the one who is fourteen – put make-up on every day. The teenager spends hours getting her face and hair just right. Of course we complain about the time it takes, but I would never begrudge them the pleasure of getting artistic with their own skin and hair, in the same way that should anyone ever question my inalienable right to hog the bathroom for three hours before a party, I’d direct them to the nearest cliff. Because nobody ever questions a woman’s right to make-up, although of course people love to judge the way and amount that’s put on.

It has taken the “no make-up selfie” meme to make me realise how many of my friends are actually incapable of going out without make-up. It took many of them courage to take that selfie, and they felt nervous and yet proud while doing it, and for them, it was a sort of personal achievement. I’m not invalidating that feeling, I have my own share of self-esteem issues and whatever steps you take to overcome yours are valid as long as they work.

But the only difference between my no make-up selfie and my other profile pics is this one was a selfie. It took ages to get right because I’m terrible at selfies, when I try to take them most of my head gets cropped out. I took one first thing in the morning, in my pyjamas, to fit in with the “real you” thing (it doesn’t get more real than pre-breakfast me squinting into the camera like a bear just out of hibernation), and nobody was all that bothered. Because really, it doesn’t matter. I’ve pulled without make-up – several times – I’ve gotten laid without the aid of a fringe, I’ve made friends and passed job interviews and proven my worth at work countless times without taking special care with my appearance. It helps that I used to work in childcare, of course, but my point is that I know I don’t need to put make-up on every day to be able to do all the things I like doing. And I don’t want to, either.

So here’s my message to all well-meaning friends: you are allowed to wear make-up yourself, as much and as often as you want. You are allowed to ask your make-up-less friend if you can doll them up one day for fun. You are allowed to offer advice, even. But for godssakes, don’t spend twenty minutes insisting to your friend that they need make-up and a bloody fringe, because that, dear reader, is not good for their self-esteem, and low self-esteem is a really shitty reason to put make-up on every day.