I could write you a very long list of recently made films about young, privileged but artistically challenged women finding their feet in the Big City and in Life as well as dipping into a romantic escapade or two along the way. Truthfully, I adore these films. They are beautiful depictions of what it feels like to be young and female in our new world and like a cup of tea for the soul they console me when the path ahead is foggy (which is more often than not). Films like Frances Ha and Obvious Child are non-pretentious explorations of the current trials and tribulations young women face; timeless in sentiment yet with an urgency to their topics. Funny, profound and artistic these films inspire my own creativity. I feel deeply connected to their characters and any existential concerns they happen to come across. But, whilst I feel this generation of women is well represented and documented both in the indie film scene and by female comedians in sitcoms, stand up routines, autobiographies and twitter accounts I feel, perhaps, that somebody has been left out.
The one thing all these women, fiction and non fiction, have in common is their social class. They either sit comfortably in the educated middle, or teeter at the top amongst the rich and almost famous. Correct me if I may be wrong, but wherever this subculture of female coming of age and glorious depiction of womanhood there seems to be a very great lack of women who do not fall into the middle of the social construct but below it completely.
I can see little art, little film, little literature on what it means to be a woman living on a council estate or having to live mainly off benefits. Because whilst womanhood is essentially universal, it will vary widely depending on where you have come from and where you are now. And so an entire class of women have been underrepresented in culture as it is once again dominated by the middle class to the satisfaction of the pretentious and the smug, even if the content is not itself pretentious or smug. As someone who finds great comfort in films, books and art I find it impossible that not one working class woman feels lost or uncertain in a world where all other women depicted lead totally different lives to the one they actually experience.
Caitlin Moran has written a novel in a memoir like fashion of her childhood in a working class and has made a TV show along similar themes. But, so far, that's all I can find in terms of allowing girls who didn't go to grammar school, or have ambition and confidence spoon fed to them by society as a child to feel heard and understood by film and literature.
Of course it is easy for everyone to relate to teen movies like Mean Girls because they give the general gist of what it is like to be in school, and 99% of us go/went to school, but there lacks specificity to each walk of life and the only specifics given are for those living somewhat privileged lifestyles.
Music may be the only place not utterly dominated by pretentious ideals of perfect living for those who can afford it, but music is simply not enough.
I may be naive, in fact, I am extremely naive because I subconsciously surround myself with a culture that relates to my life and everything in it and so cannot find the representation of working class women and girls as I get as a middle class girl but if I am right I feel deeply concerned. The comfort and joy I get from watching good films and reading good books that reflect entirely the happenings of my life is something I would not wish to deprive of anyone. For me this culture of modern femininity and womanhood is essential to my growing up, and so for those lost without an anchor of likeminded content to relieve teen angst I hope you have something, something unique and relevant to your daily existence. For otherwise I feel there has been a great injustice and, if this clumsy post has not fully expressed what I mean, I'll endeavour to change whatever might be stopping anyone from being truly represented in art in my own tiny way.
Saturday, 2 May 2015
In the last decade or so there have been violent attacks on innocent, western civilians in the blasphemous name of religion that have now been seen to be an affront on freedom of speech. We were all Charlie Hebdo, but two months on some of us have forgotten the need to care. We have fought a war in two countries we were scarcely drip fed information about so that, even now, why or how or what are still hazy questions to ask. Groups like Stop the War Coalition tried to tell us what was about to happen at the time, but the rise of a hippie movement and the propagation of love failed to repeat after its boom in the 70s. The banking crisis 2008 happened because politicians allowed the banks to assume an enormous amount of power and no one has officially called them out on this or forced them to pay back and fix what they broke. Occupy tried. Occupy failed. We're still in a recession. We are all asleep.
There is, of course, an infinite number of problems humanity faces and will face. The Man will always exist. But the monopoly of banks and corporations is mindlessly growing and rising prices without looking back into history to think, go figure, something has got to collapse. We are literally allowing the planet to dissolve and burn and die at our feet and we call those who care time wasters who should be focusing on "bigger" things. The Man is getting stronger.
We are facing the same stories of discrimination, violence, financial crisis, and war. The platform on which we stand as a society is even shakier than it was before, technology and the internet have shifted us and we are struggling to find our feet. We could fall if we're not careful. And yet, where are the Punks? Where are the Hippies? Where is the passion? Where is the solidarity? Where is the activity? In reference to our recent news in Baltimore: at least someone is doing something.
I know people who care. I know people who are angry. But... Now what?
So to end my cliché teen angst with another cliché: If not us, then who? If not now, then when?
Thursday, 23 April 2015
I do not live in a country plagued with war. I have not watched my family die of a preventable disease, nor seen my village wiped out by an epidemic. I have never had to fight for my education, nor been utterly stripped of any other fundamental human rights. My parents don't have to pay for my health care. I can speak my mind against bodies of power and authority without being beaten senseless in front of a crowd of onlookers or imprisoned or tortured. I can vote in elections. I can wear what I wish, and marry whomever I please. My rights and thoughts and way of life can be oppressed and discriminated against but by society and not by a government with the aim of "keeping me safe". I live in the West, where the general attitude is to uphold democracy and protect all rights wherever possible, and so in most cases I will be protected or supported simply by a general consensus.
I still complain about the electoral system in the UK, moan about the inaccuracy and unfairness of the education system and cry about most of my personal hurdles and dissatisfaction with life. They say everything is relative but where, exactly, is the truth in this?
Thursday, 16 April 2015
Men's issues are entirely included in my view of feminism and the same goes for every feminist I know. In fact, I have not met one feminist who has not defended complete equality which concerns the problems created by sexism for both sexes.
Men's issues are not the fault of women, but the fault of a perpetuating patriarchal society and attitude towards genders. This does not mean that all men are to blame, and that all men do not suffer as a result of this. There is little to dispute, however, the scale or impact of one over the other. I believe in the equality of both men and women, but only one of them has been severely oppressed for hundreds of years and only recently emancipated.
I am still a feminist. Feminism means the belief in equality, for both man and woman, and it always will.
Monday, 6 April 2015
Some people would argue that none of us are free. We are controlled by a state that uses the media to perpetuate fearfulness of everything. Fear of death, illness, homelessness, poverty, the Terror. This fear is then counteracted by some ineffective solution, which normally involves buying stuff to make it all better so we then become constant consumers as well as victims of fear mongering.
The only thing we can't buy to make better is terrorism. So instead we assume the omnipotent state will do what is best and what is right for our safety. We stop asking them questions about it because they are literally the only solution to this terrible enemy, and so then they start to look at our private lives on our private online profiles which we were promised would be totally safe and private. This, of course, is how we will stop the Terrorists. By reading everyone's emails sans permission. Forget all other forms of communication like letter writing, phone calling and plain old speaking, emailing is the one way we will destroy the enemy. Your human rights might just be infringed a little along the way... Sorry.
Okay so it's supposedly over now, GCHQ were wrong and exploitative and that is official as of 2015. However, I know a surprisingly large amount of people who were completely fine about the government violating their privacy without their knowledge. This, they assure me, is for the greater good. Also, they say, our lives aren't even that interesting.
This is a fantastic revelation.
My life just isn't interesting enough for me to actually care about its privacy. I am so petrified of the Terror that I will literally give up my rights so that a futile attempt can be made to oust any vaguely suspicious looking men whilst villages are burned and innocent citizens are beheaded in a far off land that is confusing and alien to us. I don't mind if my small little life is intruded upon and my private conversations are read by some strange man in Cheltenham to basically no avail. The enemy must be defeated somehow, whoever that enemy might be. Fear the enemy. Fear, fear, terror, fear, war, fight, terror, fear.
If you are constantly exposed to fear mongering news stories then you start to believe everything you are told. And once this happens, how free are you?
Thursday, 26 March 2015
I am always completely fascinated by human interaction. The way we can irritate each other, hurt each other and mean the absolute world to each other just by simply existing is a wonderful thing. Our conversations shape who we are and how we think, we bounce off each other energetically like atoms in the atmosphere and we become individuals with the help and influence of a community around us.
Just by holding someone's hand you can lower your heart rate to calm down as if partaking in some sort of cheap, friendly therapy. Sometimes, babies at first considered still born have been brought to new life just by laying on their mother's bare chest. We are separate, powerful life lines to each other that create societies which once broken down can just be seen as organisms feeding off each other's creativity, work and love. Of course, as love is also hate we can use this power of interaction to commit the most atrocious acts imaginable and turn our healing abilities to harmful ones. This fascinates me also, the ability to control and damage another person, to let another human hurt you. We crave instinctively to push the limits of human interaction, as if a part of us knows naturally the vast impact we can have, in either direction, upon each other.
It could be argued that the true essence of being a human is within our interaction, and therefore this is why our acts of kindness, or displays of affection make our world go round. How utterly a person can soar with the undying support of the random human beings he has ended up having in his life. How wonderful that we never truly live alone because even in the absence of friends or family a person still desires to impress upon or absorb information from or react to the rest of their species. How lovely that if a smile is put upon your face by another person's greeting or action it will run like adrenaline through your memory for the rest of the day, or life.
And so, if struggling to find a solution to the seeming futility of our existence, look to the people you interact with everyday, the conversations you have, the moments you share and then revel in the complete, compelling joy it can bring.
Saturday, 14 March 2015
It has become so subtle that only the select few are aware of it happening, its occurrence being so fast that we forget now to bat an eyelid. It is just This and it is just That nowadays because someone has forgotten to tell the rest of us how to push this age along. The genii are running low in this area because no one has stopped to pick them up on the rush to get to Where We Are Now. And it is today, and this week, and this year that the experts have remembered they left the kids behind and are darting back to get them on the bandwagon. No one left behind a manual for the children of the Digital Age.
Computers have made our lives so simple that we've neglected the questions and the education needed for the next generation to know how to make them better, better, better. This world we've created is so cool that we just say "Wow, isn't that wicked?" and close our eyes and go to sleep because the experts will make everything even cooler tomorrow. But that's the problem, soon there won't be that many experts left. And there's another problem, "experts" is exactly the wrong word to use.
If every child was taught a programming language, which from the new government plans they will be, then there would be a full generation of developers, innovators and creatives to surge the Digital World to its peak and beyond. This new and slightly bizarre industry has a huge, gaping hole where a lot more workers should be working things out like never before. It is a wonder that it is only now that everyone is shouting "Look at this! Look how exciting it is!" like the BBC and its digital partners are starting to do with huge programmes such as Make It Digital. Make It Digital will, hopefully, contribute to inspiring toddlers, infants, and teens into the world of coding so that when the time comes the world will not struggle to recruit an army of digital artists and writers and engineers.
This time and age is so extraordinarily exciting, you just have to open your eyes to know that it's there.