Thursday, 30 July 2015

The creeps we shall encounter.

We have been staying in Paris for a week - my friend Anneli and I - and a day ago we had been walking along the Seine after having had lunch underneath the Eiffel Tower. It was a fantastic day. The type of day where everything is exciting and new and beautiful. And it continued to be such a day, for the most part, without counting this unfortunate encounter. The bank of the Seine on which we were walking has been painted with geometric shapes and board games and small, box type rooms act as libraries and caf├ęs and toilets along the way. Anneli had gone to use one of the toilets and I had gone to wait at a table where the top was decorated with the board of a game of Ludo. It was warm and I was calm and sleepy and happy.

When Anneli returned a man came to ask in French if we could take his picture for him. Of course I obliged, he was just a tourist like us. I followed him over to the edge of the water and he told me where to stand to take the photo. I then had to try my very best not to burst out laughing and look knowingly at Anneli whilst he posed like an amateur model and walked towards me as if on a catwalk. He looked ridiculous. "C'est bien?" I asked holding out the crappy camera knowing that really the photos could never be very good. He told me they were great and I was ready to walk away, the deed of being a kind stranger nearly over. But then he strangely asked me to be in the photo with him which, obviously, is not a thing a stranger would agree to. However, being slightly out of my depth for a moment and a little confused I stupidly agreed. The camera was so awful you wouldn't be able to tell it was me anyway. And then we stood to pose, awkwardly, and I felt a hand slide with an unwelcome familiarity around my waist. I think if you looked at the photo a short moment of distress would be painted on my face. I wanted to get away. But I didn't feel ready to make a fuss. I still don't know why. Anneli and I were now sharing frequent glances of worry and began to give his camera back and move away. He asked another question I couldn't quite understand but the gist I got was that he wanted to look into my eyes. I got that gist because he had tried to turn my face towards his. Please no. I remained polite, "non merci", and began to edge away. Any decent person would have noticed my friend and I were uncomfortable, and yet he still stood a little too close to us. I think now is a good time to point out that this man looked as if he could have been about 15 years older than me. Anneli and I more forcefully moved away still politely declining his perverted advances. He still persisted. He kissed me on my cheek before we made a more urgent move. I continued to say No, Thank You.

No, thank you? How about "Back off you perverted creep get away from me!"? Unfortunately, however,  I didn't say anything remotely close to that. I would have liked to have made it much cruder.

We walked a little while away before I began to feel a little bit disgusting. I didn't want to have been in that situation, and I am ashamed at the weakness I expressed in my inability to tell him to back off. I felt  a bit sick. I literally washed my face with hand sanitizer. I wanted to forget the entire debacle. Why did I let him do that to me? I feel such an awful idiot. For all my feminist rants and beliefs the moment I faced a violation of my personal space as a woman confronted by a man I stood in waiting without moving to defend myself. I let him get away with it. I didn't even shout at him afterwards. Why?

I kept asking Anneli if she'd seen him take something from my bag, perhaps that was his game. No, just a perverted photo for who knows what purpose that I let myself be in.

Had I been caught off guard? I guess so. Was I scared? A little, but I think I was too confused to really comprehend or analyse the situation first hand. I think I was naive. I had been having a nice day with a nice friend and with nice French people telling us where to go when we got a little lost. We hadn't planned to meet a creep in broad daylight by the river Seine. I suppose I remained polite as a defence mechanism. Really all I wanted was to get away. In such a bizarre experience I felt I had no opportunity to unleash an anger I know is normally within me for these exact situations. Because of course, despite their unexpected timings, these situations are to be anticipated for pretty much every single woman and girl in their life times. I don't exaggerate. I really didn't believe that I would go through my life without meeting a man who wanted to exploit me or violate me in some way. I would have to meet one or two at some point. One of them happened to be met the other day.

After it had happened Anneli and I discussed how much safer we'd feel if we had one of our male friends with us. We wished to be protected. We felt vulnerable. Suddenly thrown from a nice, sunny day in Paris to an existence in which we must be perpetually on edge looking for men who may wish to do things to us we do not desire to happen to ourselves.

We are young, strong minded, confident women in Paris and we feel a little wary, a little unsafe, of what next we may encounter.

Saturday, 25 July 2015

What even is this?

Most of the time - in fact - every time I tell somebody that I write a blog they ask me what it's about. Oh, I say suddenly racking my brain for an explanation of the half decent ramblings I like to splurge out now and again, it's sort of... social commentary? But is it? I think I stole that from somebody who categorised it in that way when I tried to explain what I liked to write about but really I'm not sure if it always fits into that.

For almost every single blog post I write I have very little idea of what I am talking about. I suppose you could say my blog is observational, I take an idea or something I am interested in and then I write directly what thoughts I have about it in that moment. And then I post, and that is that. I do not have a fashion blog, a life style blog, or even a social commentary blog. I just have a blog for my thoughts and ideas. Which, perhaps, is the original concept for a blog.

Often I wonder if one day I will look back at previous posts and feel deeply embarrassed that I could ever think such a thing or write in such a way. In total honesty I have done that quite frequently before, but I never dare take it down, for it would damage the nature of The Fully Intended. Where my posts have few consistent themes or can contradict their own ideas they do all consistently reflect my thought processes. The workings of my inner mind, or just outside the innermost part, are concentrated here for all to see. I am figuring things out this way, perhaps, for all of you to witness. It is possible I have just been writing a very public, very embarrassing diary for the last 3 years in which anyone can read how I have been growing and learning and developing my ideas and identity since the age of 14. Although truthfully I enjoy that idea.

I do hope that as I get older and my outlook changes my posts become richer and better written. But I also appreciate the record of how my outlook alters with time and the insight it can give you for being aware of your own mental development. Perhaps the next time I talk to somebody about my blog and they ask what it's about I should just tell them it's an enriching experience for myself and a public diary for mostly everyone else. As time moves on I will still have no idea of what I am talking about, but I hope this small, insignificant journey is as bizarre and enjoyable for just a few other people as it is for myself.

Saturday, 11 July 2015

Fiery Women.

                                                                     Source: via

I am about to carry out a personal investigation into the feminist ideals of female protagonists in As You Like It and Top Girls as a part of my Pre-U English literature qualification. When I described my idea to my teacher she pointed out that in both, despite being written in completely different eras, the feminist ideals I was looking for were constructed by feisty, defiant women. I hadn't quite thought about it before (I had only just made up the question for the essay) but I realised had deliberately gone searching for characters who in some way fought against the status quo, defied at least some small aspect of stereotyped femininity for any period and were gutsy whether it made them likeable or not. I had looked for fiery women because, for me, that became synonymous with feminism. Women who had been oppressed and spoke out in some manner against their oppression, or questioned their state of being, with an air of defiance were exactly what I was looking for. 

I did not care for female characters who were still slaves to a male writer's idea of femininity and who, despite expressing some form of oppression, were quiet and well behaved and downtrodden. I cared for women who were actively speaking out (even if in Shakespeare's case this could have been unwitting) against standards of delicacy, obedience, and pleasantness for the female form. 

But does this then mean that only fiery women, both fiction and non-fiction, can become feminist idols? Or is it due to my own personality that I find myself attracted to such a quality in who I admire? Even celebrities like Zooey Deschanel who on the outside look kooky and sweet and harmless I consider to be defiant in the unapologetic manner with which they simultaneously carry their darling appearance and continue to express feminist thinking. 

The thing is in order to be agreeing with feminism and having it mean the belief in equality one must automatically be unapologetic, defiant and angry in some way. Even with a sweet demeanour there must be some fire within you to be questioning the justice in the treatment of men and women throughout every aspect of society. Therefore, does a woman who is simply nice and compliant and who does not speak against any whisper of oppression qualify at all to be a feminist idol even if placed in a situation in which they passively question the ideals of their own gender? Would that even provide anything to greatly admire?

I know girls who are quiet and shy and very, very nice but who also call themselves feminist and get angry about injustice and so in my mind that still makes them defiant.  The fire and the anger is still there and the patience for sexism lacks somewhat so they are still gutsy. 

I should conclude therefore by answering my own question by saying that, yes, only fiery women and characters can become feminist idols because there must be some defiance within one's person to fight against any form of oppression. It does not necessarily mean that they are overtly obstinate but simply their level of patience for bullshit is relatively low. Women who are in some way ardent about their beliefs in the face of disapproval or oppression represent feminist ideals: they are not willing to sit submissively in the face of discrimination.  So I will continue to look for these ideals, high and low, for research purposes and for my own satisfaction in even the shyest of women because, for me, that's what it takes to apprehend feminism into some section of your being. 

Thursday, 2 July 2015

The Writer's Dream.

At some point in my life I would like to bust out a novel. Perhaps when I am at university, desperately looking for a job to pay my bills or settled down in a new family I will finally feel the urge to splurge some words into the form of a novel. I know I have a book somewhere in the deep recesses of my cluttered mind, I have even tried to get it out before, but I've never quite felt the desperation to explain myself through my very own fictional characters in these formative years of my life. I am simply not ready yet to write a book. Some writers claim that you will never feel ready and whilst that may be an accurate statement I feel perhaps that during this period of my life I do not actually want to write a book.

There is, however, the rather important question as to what type of novel I wish my novel to be. Do I wish for it to be a clever novel? With several different meanings and metaphors mashed into a vaguely interesting story. I could write political fiction and turn the woes of today's world into symbolic characters who clash and rule and destroy and who years later an English literature class will research the great context behind. Or would I prefer to write something that touches people's hearts? Not to pull at heart strings per say but to suck readers into a world they never want to leave and have my characters sit with them for the rest of their lives. You can write something that touches hearts and seems somewhat intelligent simultaneously, one may only need to look to Harper Lee or J D Salinger to understand such a concept but am I looking to just tell a story or to invite discussion as well?

I spent most of my early teens with my nose in almost the entire Young Adult genre. I adored those books. I loved the exploration of the supernatural and the tantalising danger it brought to the utterly unrealistic teen romances. I loved the dystopian novels with young women making futuristic histories by rebelling against totalitarian societies stolen a little from 1984. I have powerful memories of being so submerged in these novels that I would walk around with the characters carrying on with their lives in my head. I would get this delicious feeling in my heart for when I would return to a book and begin again the adventures the author had created for me. The sad thing is, I haven't really recreated such an experience in a long time. Instead, I am working my way through classics now.

Although, I am still completely in love with these new novels I have been exploring. I am in awe of  writers and the messages they have woven into words and stories and characters. I have transported myself to other periods in history and other mind's of other women who saw a world completely different to my own. But I have not quite felt the glorious sensation of sinking back in to a slightly trashy but totally lovely Young Adult novel in a long, long time. And this is where I am stuck.

I would be overjoyed if I were to write a novel for anyone who cares and discover that I had not only entered the hearts of millions of readers but incited intellectual debate and created a depth to my story with many little layers. This of course is every writer's dream, I cannot claim it for my own, but I wonder if it is always possible. I am afraid of going back to the books that swept me away in case I discover that the writing is shoddy or the plot line has holes or the characters are weak. I want to have people pine to get back to my book in the same way I would sit and daydream about some novels in the moments they weren't glued to my face. I want to recreate that sensation for other young girls stuck in their rooms with their hearts beating fast for fictional worlds and people that I would have given them. But I also want to recreate the sensation of understanding the author's mind as stories unfurl to give greater meaning and I am not entirely sure how to mix this all together.

One day then, if you happen to stumble across a book with my name planted somewhere on it, please give it a read to discover if you lost both your heart and mind to its content. Perhaps I can make someone fall in love with the words, the story, the world I made up. I hope I can do that, I hope it is sitting waiting in my head and I hope it is magnificent. And, I think, that is all.