Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Feminism and me

So a little bit of a side-ways step from my last few blogs, but something I felt compelled to write about. I'm not quite sure why today, of all days (apart from the fact I've been on the wine) but it felt important. So here it is. My view on feminism.

I am a feminist. No apology; no qualification. I believe that women should be viewed, treated and paid equally to men. I am lucky in that I am not a public figure. I can (and believe I should) talk about feminism without losing record sales, or votes, or the respect of my managing directors. Too many people still see feminism as "...some kind of putting on of a man's angry cloak." when, as far as I can tell, it is merely about achieving equality. (Please correct me if I am wrong; I obviously only have a small female brain.) As I read today, it is "...a common-sense theory of equality."  So why then, is it still such a contentious issue?

I understand that there has been a school of feminists who believe that all men are pigs. I do not believe that. I quite like men. (I quite like women too!) But I am equally concerned to hear that there is a school of women who believe that the term feminism has nothing to do with them. Worse, that " is “unattractive” for a woman to talk about feminism and will earn her a reputation of being “pushy, problematic or troublesome.”


Saying a woman shouldn't talk about feminism is the equivalent of saying we should still be confined during pregnancy, or not touched during menstruation, or not have the vote.

This is ridiculous.

If you think feminism is an outmoded, outdated, irrelevant concept, then I want to live in your world. In my world, the 'traditional' western expectations of women are still well and truly embedded. Whether it be doing the ironing, cooking the dinner, or raising the children, the majority of families and people I encounter believe these are a woman's jobs. Never mind if she is also the major bread winner in the family.

Obviously I don't do these things. (Well I don't have children - and that's a whole other blog - I refuse to iron and I live on crap food.) But should I want to, I'd be doing them for me. Not because someone (and I pin this on women as much as men) expects me to. This doesn't make me someone who is at danger of  "...being radical, of going against the grain, of being disruptive.” Actually, let me rethink that statement. In fact it makes me exactly that. And of that, I am proud. Why the hell shouldn't we be disruptive? If, what we are disrupting, is a patriarchal, unfair dominance? What's worse, from my point of view, is that women now seem to be re-invigorating this ideal.

Don't get me wrong, I am all about choice. If you don't want to work and want to bring up your children, good for you. I couldn't do it. But it is those women who seem to think being a house wife is their only option, or that, if they do go out to work, they must compensate for every movement away from the familial nest, that worry me.

I am a teacher - a profession in which (nominally) your gender does not affect your job or pay. Yay! But I am witness to an increasing number of female students whose only aim in life is to get married and have babies. Really? Is that all you think you can achieve? (Again, I realise I am probably angering loads of women who will tell me that having babies is an amazing thing and I shouldn't dismiss it. I'm sure you're right. But it's not the only choice in life.) Just because you are female, doesn't mean you have to follow a particular path in life.

If I told you that you could only ever wear pink clothes, drive a pink car and decorate your house in pink, because you were a girl, you would probably laugh at me. Even Hamley's, that bastion of traditional toy shopping has "stopped labelling its floors in blue for boys and pink for girls ... and rearranged toys by type rather than gender..." Thank Christ for that! In case you're not aware, the whole 'pink for girls, blue for boys' concept is a relatively new one. In fact, in 1918, the convention was the other way round. "...the generally accepted rule is pink for the boy and blue for the girl. The reason is that pink being a more decided and stronger colour is more suitable for the boy, while blue, which is more delicate and dainty, is prettier for the girl." So why do we still insist on people following the limited gender identities which society paints for them?

And I haven't even got onto the subject of differentiated pay by gender. A topic for another day, methinks! Back to my original topic though, I have to leave the last word to Morgan, a longtime feminist activist, who says, "The bottom line: I don’t care if a woman wants to call herself ‘squirrel,’ as long as she fights for herself and other women.”


Tuesday, 25 October 2011

The nature of grief...

I suppose before you read any further, I should make it clear that this is not a humourous or light-hearted blog. On the contrary, despite my resolution to use this space for frivolous reviews, I feel the need for at least one more confessional / getting-it-off-my-chest blog.

It's been over half a year now since I lost one of my best friends. I'd lost people before: mostly relatives. But I have never felt anything like this before. Before, grief had always been a sharp shock, followed by a dull ache which faded to an occasional twinge. But this? This has not faded in the slightest. This is a stabbing continual pain which never seems to go away. Sometimes I think the pain is due to something else, and sometimes it is - at least on the surface. But always, he's there. Or rather he isn't.

I feel so terrible for those who were even closer to him than I was. What right have I to continually wallow in this grief which others have much more right to than I? I hope this blog doesn't make any of them feel worse: that's the last thing I want to do. But I need to talk about it, and the anonymous nature of the Internet offers me the respite that I need. I don't do feelings - I tend to squish them down and pretend they don't exist. And I know (hello wine) that's a bad plan. Unfortunately, I am not used to any healthy ways of dealing. I feel guilty about dumping my issues on other people, even if they tell me otherwise. How do you learn not to feel like that? Recently, I ended up crying my eyes out to a very good friend (only once alcohol had demolished my barriers) but all I feel now is guilt for possibly upsetting him, rather than relief.

I think I have lost the point of this blog - I'm not sure it ever had one. But I think if I could say one thing, it would be this. Grief is unpredictable, it is unreliable and it is unexpected. One thing it is not, is unbearable. I have to believe that at least.

Ro x

Sunday, 1 May 2011

Long overdue comments

Dear Gav

I know I haven't written before now, but I didn't think I could. Still not sure I can. Thank God I'm doing this in the privacy of my own home.

I miss you. I miss you more than I have the vocabulary to say and, as you well know, I have a massive vocabulary. (And choose to use it most of the time.)

I didn't realise I'd miss you this much and sometimes I forget. In a way, that's the worse thing. Forgetting. You were such an inherent part of my life that to realise you are gone is bizarre. There is no other way to describe it. It's not just wrong; it's not just sad. It's weird. Unacceptable. Unbeliveable. I'll be in The Sloop and expect you to walk in. Or at least text to say you're running late!

I've looked back over my Facebook today and realised just how often you mentioned me - and so many other people. We all miss you. Much as you pissed us off with your paranoid belly-aching, we loved, love you. So much has changed since you've gone. Some of it had to. Some of it is as a result. My life is inexorably altered.

Crying is something you know I did far too much but hated. And crying is something I've tried my utmost to avoid. But I can't not. When I think about never seeing you again, never having a random conversation, never again bemoaning your lack of organisation, it is more than I can physically bear. And I cry.

I wish to God I had spoken to you more before you were gone. Life is not the same, and I don't want it to be. I just want to be able to hug you once and breathe in that aroma of Gav. My friend. My comfort.

Ro. La Seductrice. Rosemary. xx

Friday, 31 December 2010

Early resolution!

Dear all (whoever might be reading this blog out there in cyberspace), I have made a resolution. Long have I been searching for a reason, a focus, nay, a veritable impetus for this, my blog, and now the way has become clear to me. I shall provide timely and interesting reviews of prose, poetry and possibly even plays.

But firstly, I shall stop writing in an overly bombastic and dramatic style. Quite why I felt the need to declaim in such an appalling faux-Shakespearean manner is beyond me. Secondly, I shall be a bit more honest. My reviews are unlikely to be a)timely or b)that interesting, but I shall try!

So, for my first review, I present to you "Mrs Fry's Diary" by Mrs Stephen Fry. Mr Stephen Fry is one of my favourite writers of all time, so I was very pleased to receive this gem in my Christmas stocking this year. And the speed reader that I am, I have since devoured this 346 page trove of tremendousness. Mrs Fry reveals in detail what its really like to live with the man the public see as erudite and educated; needless to say, Mr Fry at home is a very different household implement of sea creatures. It is exceptionally fabulous to see that Mrs Fry also demonstrates a similar sense of humour that her more-famous husband frequently displays in the public arena, with witty one-liners and puns galore.

To conclude: a very entertaining read (and yes, I do realise it's fiction) which I recommend to anyone with eyes and a brain.

Next review: Kate Mosse's "The Winter Ghosts".


Tuesday, 28 December 2010

Lack of commitment.

This is not something of which I am usually accused. However, when it comes to certain things like watching a whole programme on telly, playing a computer game to the end or regular Internet writing, it is a veritably accurate label. I'm not sure exactly why I'm so bad at keeping up with my Internet communications but I am pretty terrible. It does require both being at a computer and having something non-libellous or career-threatening to say!

So hooray and much rejoicing for my new iPhone which enables communication from the comfort of my sofa. While I am watching the telly. Back to my lack of commitment!

Friday, 13 August 2010

My first blog...

Hello blogging world!

Now I am well aware that blogging under the influence of wine should be avoided. (Said from some experience!)

But this evening I felt inspired to follow in the steps of my brother and his girlfriend (as well as many others) to start my own blog.

The problem, of course, is what to write about. I have called this blog "Thoughts and self-reflection in South Dorset". Not a particularly interesting, or even revealing, title, but one I hope is self explanatory. I have lots of thoughts you see. Sometimes in a useful, what-are-we-going-to-have-for-tea kind of way, and sometimes in a random, not-very-well-structured, loopy-as-a-box-of-frogs type of way. My new mantra is that they MUST BE SHARED (perhaps not all of them though, that might be a bit too much!) So, sorry for that in advance.

Having just got back from holiday, I feel the need to discuss the nature of time. This is something I feel I simultaneously know a lot and a little about. Obviously, the passing of time is something I have an understanding of (seconds, minutes, hours), as is the concept of doing time or time travel (especially after watching "Donnie Darko" multiple times). However, what I do not understand is how the passing of time can be so fluid and changeable. For example: I have just had a two week holiday which feels BOTH like it has lasted forever and like it only started five minutes ago. How is that possible? I have done LOADS of stuff (including random, no-one-else-was-volunteering falconry, canoeing and many beautiful walks) but yet it feels like two minutes ago I was packing to go away. Any thoughts would be welcome, either posted below or sent in an email to:*

*The blogger accepts no responsibility for the end location of said emails or possible reactions to them.

Saying that, I had a lovely holiday; it almost tempted me to jack it all in and become some kind of craftsman (actually, craftswoman, or person, I wasn't tempted by a sex-change as well) in Pembrokeshire. Or possibly, someone who runs self-catering holidays there. Or maybe just run away and join a travelling troupe of actors. We went to see one. They performed "A Midsummer Night's Dream" in the beautiful venue of "The Bishops's Palace" in St David's. It was...ok. Some performers were very good. Others...were less so. Still, it gave me some ideas for my forthcoming production...

The only disappointment of my holiday? Not seeing the puffins nesting on Skomer Island. Apparently they know exactly when the school holidays start and disappear just before that! I did see a few out at sea but it's not the same... never mind!

Well, I hope that wasn't the worst first blog ever. Hope some of you stick around.

Ro x