Professional pounder of the patriarchy.

Posts tagged ‘feminist’

What’s the point?

I’m sorry I haven’t posted a proper article for a little while, but I’ve been busy revising for my exams (all done now!) and, honestly, I’ve been in a bit of a creative rut. Since my exams finished, I’ve posted quite a lot on my other blog which is about the paranormal and things like that. I find that quite easy to write about because it’s generally lighthearted and it’s more reflective of my “sillier” side. Personally, it’s not a silly subject for me, but I’m aware that other people do think it’s a little bit weird and we can have a laugh about it. At the end of the day, my writing about ghosts has no impact on anyone else.

But this blog does have an impact. It deals with a lot of serious subject matter – women’s rights issues are no joke – and I have to be careful about the topics I choose to discuss and the manner in which I discuss them. Loyal readers might remember that, when I first started this blog aeons ago in 2015, I published articles frequently. It was pretty distinctly quantity over quality, and there are lots of posts from the early stages of this blog that I’m not overly fond of. I’m leaving them up for now though – I think you have a right to know what my journey within feminism has been like. I’ve chosen to make that journey public; I have to accept that two years of reading and writing about feminism has changed my perspective on lots of issues.

It has made me wonder if there’s any point to continuing this blog. I’m at a point where my ideas about feminism go a lot deeper than writing an article about my Top 5 Female Artists. Of course posts like that are important and I’m glad I showcased as many interesting women from the world of art, from history and from popular culture as I could, but I’m now dealing with feminism’s place in culture (and in my life) in a way which is much more complex. It’s not really the stuff of a cute rainbow blog with witty GIFs and my special brand of humour. It’s the stuff of proper feminist activists, proper feminist academics and proper feminist authors. And I am none of those things. It’s difficult not to feel a bit inadequate and insignificant.

But whenever I think about giving up this blog for good – never writing a post again, never updating the FAQ again, never adding to the feminist playlist again – something in me pitches a fit. How dare you just give up, it says. You can never carry on with anything, you always give up on your ideas after five minutes! And that’s true: I’m a terminal quitter. (Side note: I used to do creative writing, I had ambitions of being an author. Have I ever finished a novel? No. There’s at least half a dozen separate stories rotting on one of my old USB sticks.)

This blog is perhaps the longest running personal hobby I’ve ever had. Two years isn’t that long in the grand scheme of things, but it’s around 11% of my lifetime so far (11.111111…% to be exact). And despite most of the people in my life telling me it’s pointless and treating it like it’s a stupid quirky thing I do rather than a really important part of my identity, I’ve managed to keep a sense of purpose. Even if that purpose does insist on drifting away from me at present.

I’ll let you in on a secret – I didn’t know how this post would end when I started it. All of what you just read was a blow-by-blow stream of consciousness. I still don’t know what I’m going to do. Maybe I’ll write up a few “Top 5”-style articles – which do make me happy – and post those as often as I can. Maybe I’ll keep this blog as a more cheerful arena for that kind of thing, for the celebratory girl power posts, and save the more serious stuff for when I go to university (the one I’m hoping to go to has a respected feminist society that’s been running for a while). Maybe I’ll start writing an extended essay about feminism after all – a piece of writing that I actually finish this time.

Either way, this blog isn’t dead. It matters a lot to me, which is why I’m now so picky about what gets published here. It was different when it was being run by a 16-year-old girl who had never picked up a book on gender theory. Now it’s being run by an adult with 100 followers and 10,000 blog views who has led a feminist society and developed strong opinions on the great social issues of our time – opinions that go beyond “Maybe we should be kinder to each other”, although that is still a mantra I hold close to my heart.

To answer the question I posited in the title of this post: the point is that this blog is significant to me. It matters. Of course there’s a point. I should never allow there to be a time in my life where I am not filled to the bursting with purpose.

Dolly Dastardly x

(What the hell, have another gif)

katya-snap-fingers

 

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“My body is not my own” – a poem

This is a translation of a poem I originally wrote in Spanish (which you can find here). If the phrasing here seems a little bit clumsy, it’s because Spanish sentence structure is different. For example, “it isn’t important to me” becomes “no me importa” (= it doesn’t to me have any importance) – tricky!


My body is not my own.

I am not the owner of my own house,

Nor of the kitchen of my stomach

Nor of the bedroom of my heart

Nor of the rafters of my bones.

My body is not my own.

The visitors say that I should shave.

And why?

Why don’t I have the right to grow

flowers in my own garden?

Roses grow down my legs,

Violets across my stomach

And there is secret ivy inbetween.

Years ago I decided that I would not be bothered by

The comments of the guests,

Nor those of passers-by,

Nor those of the estate agents

That want to improve me and sell me.

My abode is beautiful just as it is.

My body will always be mine

And I am my own home.

Dolly Dastardly (c) 2017

“Mi cuerpo no es mío” – un poema

Traducción inglesa aquí

Mi cuerpo no es mío.

No soy dueña de mi propia casa,

Ni de la cocina de mi estómago

Ni del dormitorio de mi corazón

Ni de las vigas de mis oseos.

Mi cuerpo no es mío.

Los visitantes dicen que debe rasurar.

¿Y por qué?

¿Por qué no tengo la derecha cultivar

Los flores en mi propio jardín?

Las rosas crecen por mis piernas,

Las violetas a través de mi panza

Y hay hiedra secreta entremedio.

Hace años decidí que no me importarían

Los comentarios de los invitados

Ni de los transeúntes

Ni de los agentes inmobiliarios

Que quieren mejorarme y venderme.

Mi morada es hermosa como así es.

Mi cuerpo siempre será mío

Y soy mi propio hogar.

Dolly Dastardly (c) 2017

General Selection of General Election Thoughts

Readers in the UK will be aware of this, but for those of you who aren’t: we all just got thrown a political curve ball. And it hit us squarely in the nuts.

Provided it is supported by MPs, we’ll all be going back to the polls three years earlier than we expected on 8th June 2017. It makes sense – Theresa May has been in an unstable position since she became Prime Minister, because she didn’t have a public mandate and wasn’t elected. If she wants to carry on negotiating a Brexit (hard, soft or scrambled), she needs the full support of the electorate. However, I still don’t think this was necessarily a good decision; we are, as mentioned, in the middle of leaving the European Union and we need consistency. It’s certainly a good move for her and her party, though.

We should, without a doubt, exercise our right to give her that mandate or not. We decide who guides us through the process, whether it is May, Corbyn or someone else. That’s why I’m so disappointed to see people complaining about the election or, worse, threatening not to vote. I’m particularly bothered by young women, for whom this will be their first vote, suggesting that they won’t participate. It’s probably a cliché at this point, but we haven’t always had this right and I think it does a disservice to the women who fought for it. Women, please, always vote.

People who say they find discussions about politics “annoying” annoy me, to be honest. Politics affects every area of our lives. The world of politics dictates how much your boss should pay you and your right to complain about or question aspects of your job. The world of politics dictates what you will learn in school, how much your teacher earns and how your school is run.

Litter in the park? It’s because your local council has a tiny budget and that’s a result of POLITICS.

Underfunded and overstretched national health service? Yep, POLITICS.

Your right to freedom of expression? Your right not to be tortured? POLITICS, POLITICS, POLITICS.

Take your grievances onto the streets and protest. Take them to the polling station and make your voice heard. Take them to your bosses and your friends and family.

Talk about it, because it’s important. In the current social climate, you have NO excuse to be ill-informed. Know who your local candidates are. Know what they stand for and what they intend to do with your money and your trust. Know what their party manifesto says and how it affects you. Be clear on the issues that have a direct impact on your life – whether that’s child benefit, student loans, the living wage or the housing deficit.

I know it’s difficult and confusing. I do know that. For example, I support a lot of Jeremy Corbyn’s values, but Labour at the moment is a shitshow and I honestly can’t envision him being PM. So I’m as stuck as you are. I don’t know exactly who I’m going to vote for at the GE, but I’m going to watch the party broadcasts, read each manifesto and learn from other people.

The word politics comes from the Greek word polites (πολίτης), which simply means “citizen”. Politics at its core is about citizens, about people. There’s no point to it if people remove themselves from it.

And as for the election…

giphy

 

 

Happy International Women’s Day!

This time last year, I set myself a challenge. From that day onward, I would focus less on the negatives – on my own shortcomings as an activist and on the difficulties we face as a movement – and more on the positives. I challenged myself to spend more time uplifting my fellow women than trying to argue with naysayers.

And (hesitantly), I think I’ve achieved it. I’ve run Feminist Society since last September, which has been a hugely positive experience. My co-leader is wonderful and the members are all amazing, and the whole initiative has been an incredible opportunity to grow in confidence. I feel as though I’ve empowered myself and hopefully empowered others too. I’ve tried to do things that challenge social standards (and that damn patriarchy!) but also make me feel happy too, like making feminist and body-positive stickers, devoting more time to my spiritual wellbeing (something I’ve been tentatively dabbling in since I left school) and trying to be more open and honest about what I believe. Sometimes that’s difficult – people don’t always like it! – but it’s important.

I want to set myself a new task, though. The theme for this year’s International Women’s Day is Be Bold For Change, so my plan is to do just that – to go forth boldly and to be the change I want to see in the world. Obviously I’m pretty open about my politics; I wouldn’t write this blog if I wasn’t! However, I don’t discuss all aspects of my beliefs, especially the relationship between my politics and my faith, due to fear of being ridiculed. So that  insecurity is something I want to well and truly bin.

On a broader level, this has been a pivotal year for women’s activism. After the election of Donald Trump, people have protested on an astonishing scale. The Women’s March on Washington in January – 100 years after the Women’s March on Petrograd and 228 years after the Women’s March on Versailles – demonstrates how integral women are to protest and to revolution. It was incredibly moving to see so many  women, literally in their thousands, on the streets, raising their voices. As Karl Marx once put it, in a letter to Ludwig Kugelmann: “Everyone who knows anything of history also knows that great social revolutions are impossible without the feminine ferment.” Women are the world’s greatest catalyst, and the future is female.

Have a fabulous Women’s Day and Women’s Month!

Love,

Dolly xx

Whitechapel: Murder, Masculinity and Mental Health

Whitechapel: Murder, Masculinity and Mental Health

Warning: this contains some spoilers for all four series of Whitechapel, although I’ve tried to avoid any major plot twists and I haven’t named any of the killers.

I watched Series 1 – 4 of Whitechapel quite recently. I’m four years late to the party, so all the fanfiction, forums and fan phenomena are long dead. Nonetheless, I’m glad I sat down and watched each series consecutively, because it enabled me to spot certain recurring themes and to watch character arcs develop.

For the uninitiated, Whitechapel is a British crime drama, which aired on ITV from 2009 to 2013 and consists of four series. The first two series focus on modern “copycat killers” replicating historical crimes. From Series 3 onwards, the focus shifts slightly – rather than the crimes being directly lifted from history, the team use historical accounts in order to help them solve each case. It was described in The Times thus: “It is all in the worst possible taste and bloody good fun.” It stars Rupert Penry-Jones as DI Joseph Chandler, Phil Davis as DS Ray Miles and Steve Pemberton as Edward Buchan, an author and “Ripperologist” (expert on Jack The Ripper).

I was initially put off by the lack of female characters in Whitechapel – the women in Series 1 with the most screentime are the ones who end up brutally murdered, aside from the pathologist Dr Caroline Llewellyn. The killer in the first series finds his inspiration in Jack The Ripper, and the modern murders are clearly sexually motivated. It can be difficult to pull off a narrative like that without vindicating the sexual element and objectifying the women involved, but Whitechapel handles it very well in my opinion. Having watched the later series, I found that this motif of women being mutilated was ditched by the narrative. Although representation did steadily improve with the introduction of DC Meg Riley, DI Mina Norroy and Morgan Lamb in Series 3, I don’t actually mind the lack of women so much, mostly because I think Whitechapel just happens to be better at handling themes of masculinity.

You could accuse me of reading too deeply into it and analysing something that’s not there, but Whitechapel showcases the broadening spectrum of masculinity in our modern society, as well as depicting toxic masculinity and its abusive, repressive nature. This is crucial, especially as we live in a society in which the biggest killer of men between the ages of 18 and 50 is suicide. The series neatly covers that spectrum, with each of the main male characters representing a facet of masculinity. All of its main characters inhabit their roles as men in varying ways, and it’s both interesting and poignant that the series never condemns any of them for it.

On one end of the spectrum, we have DC Emerson Kent, who is the baby of the team (all of the other officers play a parental role for him to some extent). I like to think of Kent as representing a kind of “new” masculinity – a masculinity characterised by openness, acceptance and emotion. In Series 1, DS Miles convinces Chandler – whose confidence is wavering – that he’s strong enough to remain with the team. He discusses how everyone on the team has a different way of coping, and he mentions to Chandler that Kent copes with emotionally challenging cases by having a good cry in the toilets or out on the car park. We see this onscreen in Series 2, Episode 2. It’s heartbreaking and a moment of character development for Kent in terms of how we as viewers react to him, but more interesting is how the other characters respond. Edward Buchan sees him and tells Chandler. They don’t laugh, they don’t mock him; it’s just accepted that that’s what he does.  Edward Buchan is another example of this. In S3, Ed is struggling to cope with the weight of expectation in his new role as police researcher. As Chandler relies on him to find historical precedents for the crimes, Ed often finds himself under pressure to hunt down the right case file in his newly-constructed archive. He has to learn to deal with the fact that he can’t save everyone – he feels enormously guilty for having unwittingly aided The Ripper in Series 1 and for discovering the truth too late in Series 3, resulting in the deaths of two young women. We see him seeking counselling with Morgan Lamb in Series 3 and he asks Chandler for advice too. Ed is a great example of a man who isn’t afraid to admit when he feels vulnerable.

DS Ray Miles is more emblematic of what we might consider “traditional” masculinity. He’s a father figure for the team, especially for DI Chandler, although as a character he even subverts that successfully. There’s no doubt that he’s the patriarch of the team, but he’s a very nurturing character; he just appears gruff when expressing it. He takes his anger about his father’s absence (partially resolved in Series 2, Episode 3 when he discovers what really happened to his dad) and converts it into caring for others. Despite being a more traditional male, he never ridicules the others for their personal coping mechanisms and is happy to share his own with Chandler (he likes to sit by his fish pond and think, FYI).

At the opposite end of the spectrum is where we find The Ripper (whose name I won’t reveal to avoid spoiling it for you!). He’s representative of toxic masculinity, or masculinity to the extreme. This is reflected in his absolute misogyny. Through him, women are objectified in the most extreme way possible. They become his tools, his paint palette, as he recreates the crimes of Jack The Ripper. They lose any autonomy – his mutilation of their bodies means (metaphorically speaking) that he owns them, he possesses them. It’s a pretty terrifying way to interpret it, but it’s not outlandish.

Aside from my own interpretations regarding masculinity in Whitechapel, it also deals openly with mental illness. DI Joseph Chandler, the protagonist, has OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder). What I really love about Whitechapel is how it approaches his mental health. It’s never dismissed as a quirk or manipulated as a plot device. It is just part of his reality and, as the stakes grow ever higher with each passing series, Joe’s compulsive behaviours become increasingly difficult for him to manage. He starts with compulsive handwashing in Series 1, but by Series 3 he changes his shirt several times a day in order to feel clean enough. I think the writers deal with it in a very frank manner – it’s upsetting to watch him break down or struggle with his compulsive behaviours (i.e. Series 2, Episode 2, when he can’t leave his office because he keeps flicking the lights on and off), but (speaking as a neurotypical person) I’d rather be made uncomfortable than have mental illness sugarcoated.

I think it’s necessary – if not essential – that the series has a mentally ill character who isn’t a “baddie”. The series has several killers who are either implied to be or are described as mentally ill, and it would have been easy for a series like Whitechapel to reinforce stereotypes about mentally ill people. We see it all the time in the “haunted asylum”/“mad axe murderer” additions to the horror genre. In reality, mentally ill people are far more likely to be the victims of violence rather than the perpetrators.

In conclusion, Whitechapel is well worth a watch. It’s witty, it doesn’t take itself too seriously, and it doesn’t shy away from symbolism.

Dear Creep, A Year On

Dear Creep,

I never asked for an apology. After a year of silence, of growth, I would have been content to never, ever hear from you again. But you rolled in, like boys do, with an assumption and a guilt-trip.

I’m sorry. I miss you. We used to be so close.

We were not close; I was simply a self-shaped magnet. I was sixteen, I had never had a boyfriend and my self-esteem was 20,000 leagues under the sea. I was fragile. I just wanted someone to notice me.

In the space of that year, I learned to notice myself. Oh, I am glad to see her at last with my own two eyes. She is beautiful and worthy and self-sufficient and daring and spiritual and funny – all the things you wanted to give me because you did not think I had them within myself all along.

There were never any other girls, what are you talking about???

They were not other girls; they were my friends, my sisters, my comrades-in-arms. I let you pursue and intimidate them, because I would have had to let you go to push you away.

I am not angry because I am a woman scorned, for I was never your girl in the first place. I am angry because I let your toxic waste into the lakes of Artemis, where girls are my retinue and not my firing squad.

I tell you all this, in blue and white oblongs on a four-inch screen.

I was being nice, try it some time.

Why is it always a battle of the sexes with you?

An attitude like this is why guys don’t want to talk to you.

Grow up, yeah? People might take you seriously then.

I grew up. I am not a frightened girl anymore. There is no insecurity in my heart for your sake and the battle is the one you brought to my doorstep yourself. You forget that women are warriors and witches and wanderers, and I am all of these three and more besides.

Hate me from afar. But know this: no hatred is a match for the love I have for my own body and soul and identity, and for the bodies, souls and identities of the women I am proud to call my sisters.

Expect no apology for that.


Dolly

“To be bitter is to attribute intent and personality to the formless, infinite, unchanging and unchangeable void. We drift on a chartless, resistless sea. Let us sing when we can, and forget the rest…” – H.P. Lovecraft