Monthly Archives: April 2019

Get Your Arms Out For The Lads…

This is my favourite time of year; the nights are lighter, there are daffodils everywhere, Love Island is just around the corner and women are made to feel like they’re doing it all wrong.

Scrolling through Instagram earlier I saw loads of ads aimed making women feel a little bit shit.

The best one was ‘Have bare arms in 14 days’.

Now then, I have a few questions about this.

Why will it take 14 days? What kind of complicated Crystal Maze-type top do you have to own for it to take 14 days to put on? What if I want to have bare arms now, what if I brazenly get my arms out right now, what will happen? I’m already pushing it by being 46 and wearing a top with three quarter length sleeves, are the fashion police on their way right now? Who will look after my children and hide them from the shame of having a mother who dared to show her arms??

I’ve discussed (ranted about) this before, here, where I complained about being called brave for having bare arms. Do men get called brave for having their arms/legs out? I’m genuinely interested. I suspect men are made to feel equally as inadequate, just in different ways.

But for future reference, you can stick any bare arm advice up your arse, along with any article about how I can get my body beach-ready in time for summer. My body is already beach ready, thank you very much. All I need is an actual beach and some hot weather and me and my 46 year old, bikini-clad body are all over it.

I’m also being targeted at the minute by plus-size fashion ads, which is fine, except there are NO PLUS SIZE WOMEN IN THE ADS. How does that work? Who signed that off? What exactly is a plus size woman anyway? That suggests that it’s a woman who is more than the normal size, but what is normal? Who decides that? Were any women asked? Do we have minus sized women’s clothes? What happens if, like me, different parts of your body fall into different categories? Which misguided ads do I look at??

I’d say all my female friends are normal size, yet we’re all different. So how about just making clothes that fit all sizes of women without labelling and separating us, and showing us normal women in ads and on TV and in films etc. And while we’re talking about this, we were watching something the other night that had lots of naked people in it (don’t judge me, it was art, innit) and I noticed that there were no big breasted women. Where are all the big breasted women on telly?? Where have they put them all? Because you never see any. Is there some kind  of Logan’s Run – type situation going on in TV where once your breasts go over a certain cup size you get incinerated?

Unsurprisingly, I’ve discussed (ranted about) this before too, here, because if you see a big breasted woman on TV then that’s all she is, there’s no room for anything else, maybe because her breasts take up ALL the space. Or something.

You never see a ‘normal’ character who just happens to have big breasts, not that it would work anyway. Imagine a police drama with a big breasted main character; bullet proof vests are designed with men in mind, so that doesn’t work and there is too much running around. And you can’t have anything with a sex scene with big breasts in it, because big breasts don’t behave, they don’t stay where they’re supposed to, it would be a logistical nightmare.

(Now I’m trying to think of another example just so you don’t all think I just watch Love Island, police dramas and things with sex scenes in, but in all honesty that does kind of sum up my TV watching habits…)

So women, get your arms out, wear a bikini if you want to, love your body. Our bodies are amazing, they can do some amazing things and they can make you feel amazing things and the one you have now is the one you’re stuck with, so don’t take any notice of the society that makes money from making you feel like there is always a better you around the corner. Don’t keep putting things off until you look like what you think you should look like.

And if you have small breasts, wear a bulletproof vest and run proud, do it for the rest of us.

 

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Black Holes and Revolutions

So, lots going on this week.

We heard that an MP is calling for the removal of the parental rights of fathers of children conceived through rape. Yeah, I know, you thought that was a given already. And while it’s not as black and white as this and there have to be a lot of other things in place first before the father is involved, the fact that this is even a possibility shows that we’re still living with the remnants of the kind of medieval, patriarchal society where men have more agency over women’s bodies than women do. It all feels a bit Game of Thrones-ey. (Nearly there, people. I am nothing if not topical).

And while we’re talking about laws, as of this week it is now a criminal offence to take a picture under someone’s clothing without their permission. I know, who knew that was a Bad Thing? Certainly not all the men who have been doing it for years, hence the need for a law to remind them. It’s so bloody hard being a man, when all the rules keep changing and women keep making such a fuss about what is obviously just a bit of fun.

Take stalking, for example, what’s not to like about that?? Are you women ALL on your period or something and just being over-sensitive? It’s something women should feel flattered about, a sign of how attractive we are, of how men just can’t control themselves around us. Isn’t that what we all secretly want? Make your bloody minds up.

Well, no, it isn’t. When it happened to me I didn’t feel flattered, as I was told I should when I tried to tell someone who showed more sympathy for that poor, love-struck man than for me. It didn’t feel romantic or sweet that he pursued me to that extent. Being followed, even when I moved to another town, did not show me how much he really liked me, it just made me absolutely bloody terrified. I didn’t feel like I was in a romantic comedy, it was much more It Follows than Bridget Jones.

We need to change the way we talk about this kind of thing, and let young women know that if it feels wrong, it probably is wrong. Remind them to trust their instincts. We need to stop excusing bad behaviour by telling young girls that a boy is behaving badly because ‘he likes you!’

We are told by films and books that love is often shown through bad behaviour. You often see a male character pursuing a woman at quite an intense level, and eventually she caves in, accepts that actually she does love him, and everyone lives happily ever after. No wonder some men are confused.

The recent (ish) Netflix hit, You, dealt with this. The main character was the perfect leading man, he could have been picked straight out of any romantic comedy. He was good looking, caring and sensitive. In the first episode he meets a woman he likes and becomes obsessed with her, stalking her on social media, standing outside her house (surely I can’t be the only person who spent most of the first few episodes shouting ‘shut your damn curtains’ at the screen?).

But this show very cleverly showed the fine line between right and wrong. A lot of the things he did were things you see in many a rom-com film, things that are usually dressed up as romance. And who here hasn’t gone through someone’s social media feed to find out more about them? You haven’t? You’re either a liar or a complete amatuer, either way you don’t deserve a Twitter account.

But we also need to look at how crimes against women are reported. In a recent case in Leeds where a man killed his ex-girlfriend, he was described as a Maths graduate who was ‘fuelled by jealousy’. (By the way, he stabbed her one hundred times). They are often described as a loving husband, or family man almost as though the aim is to humanise him more, to soften his crime. That of stabbing her one hundred times.

The woman’s description usually dehumanises her, she is reduced to her status in relation to him, or her physical attributes, or her age.

These attacks are often described as a crime of passion and there’s an unspoken, vague, underlying assumption that she probably pushed him too hard, poor chap. You know what women are like, they go on and on, they twist your words.

He just got carried away with his emotions, and aren’t we always saying that men need to show their emotions more? Men’s emotions are used as a reason for carrying out violence, women’s are the reason they are victims of violence.

So let’s just get this straight as it’s hard to keep up; men’s emotions are good, women’s are so bad that they get fenced off into a male-approved, society-friendly arena called PMT, a place where women can shout and swear all they like, like Roman gladiators wielding tampons for swords, because hey, hormones. But relax, the mens, because they don’t really mean it. (*spoiler alert – we totally mean it).

So here’s a suggestion for some men on the internet; your time might be better spent looking at these issues, rather than spending what must have been HOURS going through the coding of the algorithm that produced the first images of a black hole, just to prove that Katie Bouman did not, as was suggested, produce it all on her own because God forbid a woman should take any credit.

Just remind me again why we’re struggling to get girls into STEM careers?

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Women, stop being so stupid and let us into your vaginas!

One in four women don’t go for their smear test, in fact, the rate of attendance is at a nineteen year low.

So what can we do about that? I recently Tweeted about it (I know, what was I thinking, stick to wombats in teacups, Kuhn, you know the rules…) and I was bombarded with people (mainly women) telling me how silly women are, how it only takes a few minutes and it could stop us from DYING, don’t we want to not die?

Women are quite clearly crazy and vain, they would rather risk death than go through a few minutes of discomfort and the embarrassment of some doctor peering into their vajanus. It’s only a vagina, stop being so precious about it. Just another example of women being rubbish. Tell them to stop refusing!

Let’s start with me telling you most women aren’t refusing, they are putting it off, that we get how important it is, but scaring us into doing it isn’t going to help. Also, we are intelligent women, we can weigh up the risks ourselves.

You could try looking at the reasons women hate these procedures and address those reasons, because they are legitimate fears. You have no idea what some women have been through, which isn’t your fault, it’s how life is, but just because you can’t personally understand why some women might feel uncomfortable, it doesn’t make it less valid. As I say a lot in this blog, we are telling you how we feel, that should be enough.

Talking down to us does not help. Patronising us does not help.

Having a load of cartoons and photos of celebrities having them does not help. Shaming us does not help, showing us pictures of women going through cancer treatment does not help. These things only make the fear worse for some women and makes them shut down from it even more. The more we are told we need one, the more terrified we become. And telling women ‘it will be fine’ doesn’t help either. We’re not stupid, we’ve all been in lots of situations where things have been most definitely not fine, so back off.

So how have we got to this? If we look at all the huge medical advancements that have taken place over the last one hundred years, how is it that certain procedures haven’t moved on at all?

A more cynical person than myself might say that it’s because this particular procedure is one that involves women, and that it is indicative of the way that women’s health takes a back seat. (A good friend of mine, @amandajanemason, summed it up perfectly on Twitter when she said “Seriously, if men had to do it, it would be a matter of spitting into a test tube by now”.)

Women are conditioned from an early age to just get on with it and accept that things are going to hurt. An example of this is sex. Young girls are told that it will be uncomfortable the first time, that’s just how it is, something you have to go through. But this is wrong and instills from an early age the idea that sex is primarily about male pleasure, instead of teaching young people what to do to make sure it’s not uncomfortable for anybody.

We are told that some things ‘just are’ and there’s nothing that can be done.

Women with very valid reasons for not wanting to give birth vaginally are being made to feel ashamed of asking for a C-section. Any woman who’s ever had depression will forever be lumped into that group with any ailment she presents to the doctor. This means that women are seeing huge delays between their first visit to a doctor and eventually being diagnosed. Let’s not even get into the whole thyroid thing. But they are just not listened to.

(Imagine a condition that affected every single man in the world, imagine them being happy being told that it will pass eventually, it will just take another eight to ten years. Hello Menopause).

I’ve been having regular smear tests for over twenty years, but the process has hardly changed.

There’s the way they shut that curtain as you get undressed from the waist down, leaving you to sit on that awful paper sheet that sticks to your arse. Then the strip of paper they give you, for modesty. Whose modesty? Is it mine? Is it so I don’t see what’s happening? Because I can’t see anyway, because boobs. Is it for the nurse? Mate, you’ve got your face inches away from my vagina wearing surgical gloves and you haven’t even bought me lunch, that line has been well and truly leapt over.

There’s the way they tell you to relax as they not-so-subtly prise your knees apart before cranking up the speculum.

Ah, the speculum. That shiny, metal, duck-billed torture device.

This lovely bit of equipment has hardly changed in design since it was invented over one hundred and fifty years ago, and if you delve a little deeper into the history of its invention, it’s a story of patriarchal domination and racism, tested on female slaves with no pain relief.

It symbolises the long held fear of women’s bodies, this tool that ensured no physical contact was made, because hey, we don’t want to make the women hysterical.

And so it carries on, the discounting of female discomfort, the blame being placed on the woman herself. I personally am proud of my tilty cervix, I picture it as one of those false floors in a fun house, but it has always been up to me to remind them and to then get into the right position with my hands placed in a certain way so that they can find the damn thing. All while being told to relax and with the threat of ‘the bigger speculum’ hanging over me. Believe me, there is nothing guaranteed to make a tilty cervix swish away like one of the lands in the Magic Faraway Tree than being threatened with the big speculum.

So sort it out. Talk to us. Find out what we don’t like, find another material to make the speculums, there are loads out there, maybe even talk to the sex toy industry, I don’t know, just do it. Find out if we’d be happy learning how to do it ourselves? I’d be happy doing that and I bet if you had an easy-to-use kit that we could just pick up and take home, the take up would be higher.

We are not stupid, we are happy to let you into our vaginas if needed, we’d just like some say in how you do it.

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