Thursday, 20 November 2014

It's a Large World After All.

I've probably said it before and I'll probably say it again, the world is enormous and life is just one exciting/traumatic circumstance after the other. The planet is full of dangers lurking in certain whereabouts and magnificent wonders both compacted together on one rock. Our lives are so complex that the fantastical phenomenons of our bodies and mental capacities have us stunned at our own capabilities. There may be a reason for our existence, or there may not. Life could be just one big, brilliant scientific coincidence. Think how marvellous that would be.

However despite how already intricate our lives may be we still let ourselves be pummelled down by the tiniest, most unimportant issues life can throw at us. Whether these be a lull in our day to day lives with too much repetition so that we feel we're in an updated version of Groundhog Day, or an insignificant failure at school or work that can easily be improved upon, or the dissatisfaction with life that will come over in waves throughout our existence no matter how optimistic you claim to be. These are all natural problems we come to face, but to make a real deal out of such events seems so ridiculous. To want to call them crises is hyperbolic. They are not crises, they are just little hiccups in the grand scheme of things.

You are a working, vital part of this huge machine called Earth. You are small, but that's okay, because it means that those minor issues are even smaller. Life is still astonishing no matter how bored, or agitated or uninterested you are. Don't let the small things get to the heart, they're really nothing in the bigger picture.

Sunday, 16 November 2014

Cheers, Love.

Call me a Bad Feminist but I don't find being called babe/love/sweetheart/darling by a man I might not know offensive or intrusive. In fact, I find it comforting. If a man serving me in a shop, or someone I serve at work calls me 'love' during a conversation in a friendly manner it actually brightens my day a little. It's the same feeling I'd get from a woman using the same endearing phrases. It is pleasant and shows an acknowledgement of your presence. It's often intended to put you at ease, and it does, for me anyway. 

I know that some women find this behaviour insulting. That they are annoyed by it if some creepy older man starts calling them 'sweetheart' but you have to look at it in context to justify calling such a phrase a form of harassment. Had said man followed said woman out of a bar and then called her 'darling' that would be creepy and definitely be harassment. Had he tried to chat said woman up inside the bar the same interpretation would apply. However, what if this man was just the bar man and said it to all of his customers just as a small part of his friendly disposition? Of course the woman has every right to find this irritating, we're all different, but there's no way it can be labelled as harrassment. And sometimes it is. Or at least complained about in a manner that would suggest it was some awful sexist faux pas. 

It's terribly precarious territory to start accusing women of making a fuss over nothing and I am by no means trying to make such a point. That's why we have such shocking stories of rape being unabashadely ignored. But if you start throwing accusations around of every day politeness being yet another form of sexism then we get ourselves into another mess. 

If as a woman, or even as a man, you are offended by being called certain names such as 'darling' then make sure that if you show coldness to whoever said it because of this that they weren't just being friendly. We need more friends in this world as it is. 

Friday, 7 November 2014

In defence of a fandom...

Ever since I was 8 years old there has always been something within in me that desperately hopes to hear a wheezing, whirring sound of a blue box turning up out of nowhere so that I could go away and visit the stars for the day. I am almost 17 and that wish only gets stronger.

You could say that being so involved in a television programme is juvenile and a waste of time and there are so many other things I could be admiring. I do admire lots of things, I find the world an extremely delightful place and I do a lot of things in it, but there is such a strong sense of escapism with Doctor Who that I cannot help but feel it is something rather special to me.

It is ridiculous, absurd and often very silly but I have been in love with the idea of the Doctor for a long time and its impact has a wonderful effect. We all whine and moan about Stephen Moffat's new plots that slightly go off on a tangent and end up contradicting everything that's been said before on the show but if you look past the sometimes precarious writing and focus on the conception it never really loses its magic.

Imagine that one day this old fashioned police box appears suddenly and out steps a forthright man in eccentric clothing. Somehow you get caught up in some save-the-day scenario that's both terrifying and exciting and afterwards he invites you to travel with him. But he doesn't mean just travel the world, he means the stars and all of time. You step inside the blue box to find it's infinitely bigger on the inside and can do all manner of peculiar but wonderful things. You meet historical idols, and fight unimaginable alien beings in far off lands that no other human has heard of. And eventually you come to realise that the man you've been travelling with is a mad genius who is kind and wise and dark and fun and represents every person you could be or have been. You know that in any situation you could possibly be in he will always, always save you and take you away. You understand, after a while, that no one is better than he is and that's just the most fantastic thing about him. Even when he changes his face, you can never really be scared with him around, you are always safe from every evil.

I think that the last bit, about having an eternal friend who can save you from everything, is the idea that most people connect with. Because for 45 minutes on a Saturday night you can escape from everything frightening and be in a world of possibilities. Sometimes, although it's a little bit sad, it feels like coming home when I watch Doctor Who.

And that's what I love about it. It's terribly British and quirky and nonsensical. And it gives you this brilliant imaginary friend that I think all of us want and need.

So there is something slightly ludicrous about adoring a silly TV show so ardently and I do seem like a bit of a loser, but I think that the Doctor is really, really cool. And that's a nice thing to have.

Saturday, 1 November 2014

Shouting feminism to the wind.

Beyonce's said it, Emma Watson's said it, Benedict Cumberbatch and Tom Hiddleston have said it...But what now? It's all very wonderful and lovely to see feminism become a mainstream word with  everyone getting on board but where do we go after making it a fashion accessory of the western world? Awareness and a peaceful high profile declaration of equal rights are vitally important in this feminist movement but what about the little, practical things? The things outside of wearing a t-shirt with the words "This is What A Feminist Looks Like" and posting a selfie with it on to Instagram.

Have any of our world leaders openly declared themselves as feminist and then demolished unequal pay immediately after? Why is that one still taking a long time to get going despite everyone happily shouting out the need for equal rights for men and women? There are more and more programmes out there to help girls get into the tech industry, into coding, into other industries and cultures seemingly bereft of any female input due to discouraging, 'traditional' attitudes. Shouldn't we be putting more of our effort and our online power into these organisations as feminists in order to get the ball really rolling?

We're beginning to see some 'Yes means Yes' and 'No means No' campaigns mainly in America, but why aren't all universities and all schools educating us on not only your right not to be raped, but also, rather simply, not to rape? Why isn't this more widespread? Why is it taking so long for people to really care about the fact that women and men are being raped and then ignored by the justice system? As feminists we should be pushing these issues right up into the noses of officials and saying 'DO SOMETHING!' instead of just using the word feminist in day to day conversation.

I do believe in the widespread social media outbreak of feminism and how it will positively impact the issues we're facing, but we do need a little more than just admitting to being a feminist to actually create more movement. When you call yourself a feminist, you should probably know why you're still having to call for that revolution, because otherwise it may all just be in vain. I don't do enough to battle gender inequality issues, but from now in I'll make sure I do. You can't just expect the earth to shift the moment you give yourself the feminist label, there's a little more pushing and a little more shoving to it than that.

Saturday, 25 October 2014

This relentless thing called life.

How do we pummel through this relentless thing called life? When moments of freedom reveal themselves it is too soon after that piles of bricks clatter down on your thoughts and you are buried so far under you struggle to breathe. This happens so frequently that after a while you begin to question why you rummage through these bricks until you find the air again despite the fact that one day you'll be trapped once more. When heavy thoughts rain down so unkindly you experience a blindness. Suddenly all of your love and your desires become smeared with black tar and you cannot see two feet ahead for the clouds are so dull, so grey, so cloistering. Surely the best answer would be to end. To end this feeling, end this cycle and free ourselves from this unwanted suffering that creeps up from below every time we suppress it. It takes such great mental power to suppress or override suffering that it is a wonder we have even achieved living for such a time. The constant raining over our heads starts to hurt after too long.

And yet these moments of freedom that we arrive at are euphoric and when we are flying through them there is not one thing greater than life. When love consumes us and we climb out of the pile of bricks suffering will cease without our notice and we cleanse ourselves of the raining thoughts of our own impending doom.

Life overpowers our darkness, overwhelms it. And so we keep going, keep going, keep going.

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,