Thursday, 16 October 2014

Stupid people.

What makes me clever? Is it the grades I get at school and the qualifications I will leave with? Perhaps it is the number of books I read, or even the type of books. Is it the amount I write? Is it what I write? Does my cleverness get measured on the difficulty of sums I can do off the top of my head? If I go to Cambridge university am I more clever than if I were to go to Surrey? Maybe if one teacher thinks I am wonderful in one subject but in another the teacher is concerned about my performance my intelligence is halved. Or possibly if I read a New Science issue once a year I could be deemed as a little smarter than I was before.

If cleverness were based on the amount of effort one puts into everything they do I don't suppose my cleverness would be as great as others. In school at least. If cleverness were based on the amount of ambition one has then by God I could quite possibly be a genius. If cleverness were based on the quality of conversation one upheld with every one they spoke to my cleverness would vary greatly. If cleverness were based on how one spoke then once again I would not know how to measure myself.

If I am not gifted nor talented am I not clever? If I do not get noticed by every teacher in the school for my work and marked as an extremely skillful student am I a little less intelligent than those who do?

Were I  to choose a career in acting, or in hair and makeup, or perhaps in fashion retail can I ever enter the realm of intelligentsia?

Who is even going to decide on my cleverness? My teachers? My university? My parents? My book shelf?

Were we to create a label called "Clever" and pick from a room of young people there would be a very small group. If a teacher was to choose some students to go into a 'Gifted and Talented' class not only would that leave a large majority with said teacher but it would deem the others as utterly giftless and talentless. How worthless those students would feel. Where on earth are those students supposed to go after that? Into talentless jobs? Talentless lives?

There is an incorrectly sorted category for clever people. Especially for young people and especially in schools. Cleverness is a spectrum, just like emotions and love you cannot possibly define it as one thing. Or measure it in any way because there are thousands and thousands of versions of 'clever'. If you do not fit into the Gifted and Talented box at school then you are zapped of some of your individuality. There you go off into the vast and endless sea of stupid people. You can still come to lessons but you'll never be quite as good as the intelligent ones. You'll probably be compared to someone you have nothing in common with and be asked to raise your standards to theirs. You will be put into a box and either taken out and admired from time to time or put away to be dealt with later.

Cleverness is an extremely difficult thing to deal with with young people. They're not fully formed beings yet. I am not a fully formed being. I think that the way young people are handled at school in reference to their intelligence can be very badly done. It can hurt and damage ambitions or ideas that are just beginning to grow. Perhaps, to anyone who is listening, we need to reform the way in which students are rewarded and we need to stop categorising them at such a tender age. If a child 'knows they are stupid' somebody has failed them.

We are not all clever, but then, what does clever even mean?

Saturday, 4 October 2014

Dear Hannah,

My funniest, sweetest, silliest only sister, what ever would I do without you? I suppose, though contrary to belief when you won't let me watch what I want on tv, that I would be desperately lonely without your presence. It would be a much quieter household I admit, but a sad one all the same. 

If you were not with me every second of every day when we go on holiday who would laugh at mum and dad with me? Who would make up silly songs on long journeys home or sing beautiful opera music when we do the washing up? Who would still play fight when we are far too old to do so or attack me rather forcefully as a form of affection? 

We would never have made up the most beautiful musical theatre production ever to grace the earth in the middle of the kitchen at the same time as putting away the dishes. I wouldn't have been so pleased if I'd have improvised alone. 

I would not be able to have my breath taken away every time you walk into a room and want to tell everyone that the beautiful girl standing there is my sister, if you were not there. If you were not there I would have no one to be proud of. I wonder how empty that would feel. 

Christmas would be dreadfully dull if I did not wake up with you each year and share the excitement of the Father Christmas presents we still get to enjoy. Nor would our birthdays be as exciting if we had only adults to share them with, which is why I write you this letter. 

I am sorry I could not be there when you turn 14, but I am more sorry you have even reached that age. I'm not exactly sure how it came about. I do know, however, that I miss the chubby, little you that was so earnest you were possibly the sweetest girl in the world. 

Although, despite missing your younger self I look forward to the new you. The older you. To be my ever-present friend. The only person in the world I can say "I hate you" to and be forgiven in only less than a minute. I love you, and I miss you, and I hope you have a happy birthday. 

Yours lovingly,


Saturday, 27 September 2014

The Angry Feminist.

Once again the word 'feminist' has been hitting the headlines in a positive light due to another talented celebrity using her power of influence to normalise the name of the movement. Emma Watson formally invited all men to join in the fight for equality as UN ambassador for women. After pointing out 'feminism' had collected a number of very negative connotations in the past decades she then continued to eloquently disparage all of this negativity around the word. The world sighed with relief again as somebody else successfully spread the word of equality and took the movement up a notch. Maybe, we all thought, this really will happen someday.

But why has a belief in feminism, which seems beneficial to everyone involved, become such a scornful phrase? There are many interweaving factors to this degradation of the word, yet one aspect we probably should take time to review would be the self-destructive quality that feminism can sometimes create. The 'angry feminist' stereotype is most likely quite a discouraging feature of feminism, and one that should be discussed and then discredited. You could argue that the angry feminist is just a belittling term used by men who still call women 'hysterical' when they display any emotion that isn't blissful ignorance. Women have spent years being silenced (and still are) so it's probably about time they screamed out to the world to tell it to go to its room until it understands what it's done. Also when you identify yourself as a feminist it's very difficult to understand how people can think differently to wanting equality so jumping at any poor sod who doesn't quite comprehend the word and demanding to know their reasons for not being feminist is easy to do. It is a bit like banging your head against a brick wall constantly when suddenly informed about the many injustices of the world and so not getting hysterically angry is really, really, really hard.

However, when we want people to be on our side responding rapidly to 'anti-feminists' with pitchforks and fires is possibly not the best move. Perhaps women who aren't certain about feminism are often intimidated by those of us who can quickly heat up when faced with yet another obstacle. It is not a question of not ever getting angry because not only would that be impossible but also completely pointless, it is more a way of responding to the little things with patience and agreeableness.

By all means get really irate and mad and furious at the inequality in the world to inspire the change it needs. But when someone smirks if you say you are a feminist because they fail to understand the meaning outside of its almost comical stereotype then whatever you do stay calm. It's arduous to be faced with this ignorance daily, but no one ever helps themselves by indulging a cliché.

If you haven't already, give Emma a watch because she really is spectacular:

Saturday, 20 September 2014

The ultimate 'me'.

I spend a ludicrous amount of time trying to plan out and understand who I am. I set goals for myself, make routines and plan activities that I think will make me the best version of myself. If I spend this amount of time reading and not watching back to back episodes of Orange is the New Black then I will be a much better person. I will probably be closer to discovering my ultimate being. The definition of my personal existence will make itself clear and I will continue being my true self for the rest of my life. I will be glorious. Forget all the other instances where I went against what I was supposed to be doing and spent hours being completely unsure with what to do with myself. From now on I will always know what to do, I will always be productive, I will finally be me.

I am aware that this entire thought process and the hours spent imagining the entirely idealised version of myself is a complete waste of time. It has suddenly come to my notice that every time I disappoint myself or every time I am not really being me will not only be buried under folds of time but are in actual fact just tiny threads of myself in the vast fabric of my being. I can never be anything other than myself and I have been doing just that for the whole of my existence. Instead of quickly trying to cover up versions of myself that I'm not quite satisfied with I will celebrate them. I will celebrate who I was yesterday, I will enjoy who I am today and I will look forward to who I am tomorrow. Each experience I have is experienced through the eyes of someone I have no control over. Every person I have ever been and ever will be is not totally decided by my own imagination but by my growth and development as a human.

I will never be who I am being today again and that is so brilliantly exciting. I will reinvent myself by accident every single moment I'm alive but each of these versions of myself make up for a whole person. I will never know who I will be based on my past and my present because my past and my present vary so infinitely. But I do understand that when I am disappointed in myself it is not something to be ashamed of, it is simply another me that will add only a tiny ripple to my life. I will change tomorrow. I will stay the same and alter myself simultaneously.

I am not sure exactly what I am saying, but I do know that it is just life. Being me is just life and I can either accept myself and enjoy it or spend all of it agitating over not being who I'm 'supposed' to be.

Thursday, 18 September 2014

Gettin' down with the kids.

For those of us living in the dark ages a new discovery has been made that will make some blogging lives much easier. I say new discovery because for some reason I had not heard of this fabulous website Bloglovin. I have now. The world is at last at peace.

So, go on, follow The Fully Intended on Bloglovin on the link below!


Thursday, 11 September 2014

Watching people die.

So there's this footage of the Russian Civil War after 1917 that demonstrates an example of the Bolshevik's ruthless reactions and these two guys' heads are just blown off on camera and you see them die. Oh and if you look it up there's this photo of two black men hanging in the wind at a lynch mob whilst the white people cheer for the death of these men. They're both kind of gross, I guess, but it was a long time ago and I need to look at it for my history GCSE. Also did you know that in the video game Grand Theft Auto 5 you can just beat up a prostitute to death if you don't feel like paying her. How HILARIOUS is that?

It's not hilarious. It's not hilarious at all. Nor is it 'kind of gross' to watch or see real men die in front of your eyes. But teachers at school will show you this without warning you. It's historical evidence therefore no one thinks about how inappropriate it is to use and reuse a visual medium of a civilian's violent death to the point where it begins to mean nothing. It is simply a source of information. The person dying in the image or video does not even become a martyr of any movement or revolution, they are simply a bit of information. People die every day, history is just a huge collection of stories from the dead, but you wouldn't watch a youtube video of your great grandpa being blown up on No Man's Land in WW1 to understand how he died, would you?

However, that prostitute in Grand Theft Auto 5 is just a fictional character made up of code. It's not even real, you never actually violently murder someone. You just initiate it within the game and watch it happen. It probably entertains you.

We have started to completely desensitise ourselves to these extreme images of brutality. They mean nothing to us now, not even a twinge of empathy can be felt for those who have died in an often undignified manner. It is just an image, just a video and just a game. But I don't need to see a beheading to know how it happens. In any reasonable situation I would not be entertained by an act of ferocity.

Fundamentally I find it disrespectful. It is disrespectful for a class of bored, young people to look at an image of totally unjustifiable murder and barely feel angry that it happened. The lack of emphasis on the reality of these images is the result of thousands of films and games like Grand Theft Auto 5 that make us feel indifferent to genuine violence and death. There is no benefit of being desensitised to violence. You gain nothing but a deficiency of human empathy. And whilst it is statistically very unlikely for young boys to be inspired to gun everyone down one day, or to justify violence towards women, the normalisation of severe and immoderate violence is essentially quite terrifying. It does mean that lines between the unacceptable and the 'ordinary' will blur and people's judgement will change.

Violence unfortunately occurs with or without watching films or playing video games with abusive themes, but at what point does it really become unfitting to regard it from the safety of our own homes for our own voyeuristic enjoyment?

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Beyoncé queen of the world.

Beyoncé may have just done the whole world a big favour. After years of men and women pushing against a stereotype for feminism being hateful and pointless a pop queen made it look very, very cool. Last year I wrote about how Miley Cyrus' performance at the VMAs was sad and uncomfortable to watch, this year I'm writing about how Beyoncé made a huge statement that affects people everywhere.

I'm not a big fan of her music so I've never really paid attention to Beyoncé's pop fame but her recent publicity act is one that has certainly caught my attention. "We teach girls that they cannot be sexual beings the way that boys are. We teach girls to shrink themselves, to make themselves smaller. We say to girls ‘You can have ambition, but not too much.’ You should aim to be successful, but not too successful, otherwise you will threaten the man,” said the voice-over, accompanied by words from the talk on a large screen.  “Feminist. The person who believes in the social, political, and economic equality of the sexes.” Enter Beyoncé with enormous white lights behind her reading 'FEMINIST'. She didn't even need to sing after that. That one intro would have been enough of a statement on its own. I think the entirety of the female population now understands that Beyoncé is a super fairy princess with magic super powers. Actually, we now all realise that we are the same Beyoncé just came to this realisation a lot sooner and will proceed to teach us our magical ways. 

I've seen many tweets pointing out that had Beyoncé not been a wealthy, beautiful, powerful, famous, talented pop star she wouldn't have been noticed. She would have been another sad, young woman shouting feminism to the wind where no one hears her. This is entirely true, she had the public lined up to receive her message. We were all ready and waiting. The thing is she also happens to be a wealthy, beautiful, famous, talented pop star who used her power to push an incredibly important message. And she did it with so much sass I think the world, the Western world at least, stopped and stared for a while to appreciate the beauty of what she was doing. Never before has feminism reached such a high status. It is now mainstream. It was reaching that status, but with a little help from pop culture Beyoncé pulled it up from the crowd and held it up for everyone to see. 

How many young people searched the word feminism after her performance and experiences their first feminist moment? How many people swallowed their words when they realised such an influential figure could use feminism to define the belief in equality? 

In a way it is sad that such effort had to go in to produce enough belief in feminism. But it's happened now and I truly believe that such a powerful statement made by such a powerful woman will go along way. Feminism has always been cool. Belief in equality for all is cool. I think Beyoncé just disproved anyone's doubts that it hadn't been cool in the first place. Thank you, Beyoncé. And for the first and last time in my life thank you pop culture and marketing, you finally got something right.