16 September 2023
23 March 2023
Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus according to the book by John Gray. We may not be Martians or Venusians, but while men and women are both human beings, we are wildly different. I do not know how a man thinks. What he feels, how he feels and how he expresses those feelings. A man cannot know that about a woman either.
Our bodies, our hormones, our way of thinking, the experiences that we have growing up; these all form what it is to be a man or woman. Society has always had expectations and presumptions of both sexes. But for women, it is our bodies that puts us at an lifelong disadvantage.
In a normal childhood, a girl enjoys the first years of her life being safe. You are looked at and treated as the child you are. We are innocent and are allowed to be in that cocoon of safety. Most of the time. Until that one day arrives. That day comes at different times for all of us, but we all feel the same when it arrives. We want to go back to the cocoon where it is safe.
I was an early developer. At the age of ten I started my periods. My breasts started to develop. I didn't know then that the world would change. But it did. It felt like overnight. I was a child, but the way I was treated immediately became different.
The way that some adult men interacted with me changed. The way that they spoke to me. There was a change in their voices, an intonation that I did not understand. A unfamilar expression on their faces. A smile, but with a strange leer. I did not understand back then these men were flirting with me; a ten year old girl.
What I did understand was that feeling that I got when they did it. That uneasy "danger, danger" feeling that comes upon you. You know that something is not right, even if you do not understand why. Those are the first lessons a girl learns, a child learns in my case, how to extract yourself from an uncomfortable situation without letting them know that you are scared. How to remain polite when inside, you want to run.
There used to be a playground near my old house that I sometimes used to frequent. The street where I lived was full of old people, with no other children to play with and as a result, I often used to make my own entertainment.
I remember being around 11 when I went up to the nearby playground to read my book on the swings and have a go at the merry go round. It was only around the corner and I felt safe there. My mum had no qualms in letting me go. Whilst sat on the merry go round slowly spinning around, I remember a group of boys approaching me. 14, maybe 15 years old. They surrounded me. Talking about how I was young to get "titties" and asking if they could touch them.
I didn't understand. I was a child. But I felt the danger. I took advantage of one of the boys saying "leave her alone she's a kid" and ran.
When I got home I told my mum what had happened. She told me that it probably wasn't a good idea to go to that playground alone again. That we maybe should throw away that jumper. That was the first time I truly understood that the world I lived in had changed.
The change in your reality that you realise that you have suddenly become prey, in a world where half the population are men and as a result, the way that you look at, not just men, but the boys around you; changes too. It is inevitable.
You shouldn't have to feel that way at 11. But for me, that was the day that the world changed. My growing female body was now restricting me from going to places because of what may happen to me. Because I was female. Even though I was still a child, that label no longer meant that I was safe.
I learned too that it was my job to protect myself. Don't go places on your own. Don't wear that jumper, it will attract the wrong attention.
I remember being so excited when I was a little girl about becoming "a lady". I remember watching my mum getting ready on a Saturday night with her pretty dresses, makeup and lovely hair. How her womanly shape looked so amazing and how much I wanted to look like her. How my dad admired and complimented her. It all looked so exciting. What could be better?
Except now my growing body was something I no longer wanted. I wanted to still be a child. I didn't want boys leering at me in a playground, intimating things that I did not understand. I didn't want grown men speaking to me in a way that I knew wasn't right, but again I didn't understand quite why. I didn't want the breasts that attracted more and more attention.
I remember being in my first year in high school and an older boy telling me that because I already had "tits", it meant I was going to be a slag. I didn't know what that was. But it didn't sound good. Also, he was leering at me the way that adult men did.
The problems, as I called my breasts at that time had started growing early and as a result, I was a C cup by the the time I was 14. Any woman reading that will probably have the same reaction. Closing your eyes. Oh god. Because every woman knows that that is not a good thing.
By 14, the rest of my body was also catching up and I no longer looked like an early developing child. I looked like a woman. With a pretty dress, hair done and make up applied I could have looked similar to my own mum who I used to aspire to be when I saw her getting ready on a Saturday night. But I did not want that anymore.
But I was stuck in this body and as every girl learns, you have to just, deal with it. You learn how to build your defences. You learn the right responses. How to remove yourself from situations you don't want to be in.
As time goes on, you realise that your womanly shape, your curves, your breasts hold a power. A power that you understand that you have and try to weld; yet you do not fully understand how dangerous that power is. And that is isn't really power at all.
I'm reminded of the famous line from The Breakfast Club. If you don't, you're a prude. If you do, you're a whore. My growing body earned me many forms of the latter insult, despite having not even yet kissed a boy.
I raged against the injustice of it all. I had to be careful where I went, what I said, what I wore, how I acted. Boys were not held to the same standard. Although they were going through their own experiences of puberty and teenage years, which as I have said, I cannot understand as a woman as it is their experience alone, they were allowed to get away with so much under the clause that infuriated me beyond all else (and still does). Boys will be boys.
Boys will be boys I was told when I told a teacher about the name calling. Boys will be boys I was told by another teacher when two boys frequently tried to grab at my breasts. It's their hormones! I was told. Wear a larger shirt, they said. My shirt was not tight. But no shirt could have made my breasts disappear.
Looking back now, my mind boggles that these excuses were used to justify and allow this kind of behaviour. If you were to report a sexual assault to the police, I don't think a "he just couldn't help himself" would wash in a Court of law.
But would it? Because now I recall a case in Hull where the Defendant was found guilty of raping a sleeping woman and the Judge told him "She was a pretty girl and you fancied her. You simply could not resist".
Most women have stories similar to mine. The truth is that from the time a girl hits puberty to the day she dies, she is prey. The lifelong game we play is how to avoid the carnivores that would hurt us.
It is a game of life that we never signed up for. But has also prepared us, has strengthened us and has bonded us together. It is why we fight for our rights. For our single sex spaces. Why we hold on so strongly to the word woman. Because we know what it means. And what it takes to be one.
5 January 2022
There is a thought that has been building in my head lately. Well, not lately, for some time now.
Why do I feel that, at a time where arguably (in the first world) women are at our most liberated, are there more rules imposed on women than ever?
We are at a point in history where we are told that women can be all things, that nothing is impossible. We can do anything we want, be anything we want to be. The rules and shackles imposed by society for so very long are being thrown away and we are creating and running our own lives the way we want to. Or are we?
Somehow, despite all of this liberation; it seems that we are once again being told what to do, how to look, how to act and how to think, increasing not just from men, but from other women.
Sometimes it feels that the only thing we are not allowed to be, is ourselves.
I was watching Bridget Jones Diary over Christmas. Bridget Jones Diary was written in 1996 and released as a film in 2001. For so many of us, Bridget encapsulated so much of who we are, our characteristics and both our flaws and our strengths.
Her silliness, her hope, her need for love and looking for it in all the wrong places. Her inability to make the right choices. Her ability to pick herself up and dust herself off to try again, after an obligatory vat of wine and a few renditions of "All By Myself".
I saw so much of myself in Bridget and indeed, now over twenty five years since the book came out, I still do.
The thing is, we are all multifaceted people. Aside from my many similarities to Bridget, I am also many other things. Many of which are contradictory to the other. I am independent, but feel an innate need to be loved, cared for. I am both secure, and insecure in my appearance, my character, my trajectory in life. I may have finally reached a point where I no longer walk about swathed in black, but I still change my clothes as many times before deciding on an outfit. Whatever the occasion.
I have a career, but it does not drive me more than being happy in my life outside of work.
I have both a traditional and non traditional relationship with my partner.
All of the above is the way I choose to live my life. It is who I am. Because I am be more than one thing. I can, and do, have opinions about a thousand different subjects. They don't all have to be on the same wavelength.
This, for me, is what the women before me fought for. To be the person I am. To think the way I want. Act the way I want. Do what the hell I want.
After watching the film, I later watched a documentary about the writer, Helen Fielding who spoke about her own similarities to Bridget, which inspired her to write the book. One of the people in the documentary was Germaine Greer, who made comment about the routine that Bridget went through in order to ready herself for her first date with Daniel.
Germaine was eyerolling at the fact that Bridget felt the need to do all of this. Why was she thinking more about whether to wear sexy underwear or control underwear rather than, as Germaine said "Don't worry about your pants girl, just kiss him".
That is true enough. What we know, certainly by Bridget's age, is that a man cares more about getting into your knickers rather than their style. They don't care. From my own experience with my partner, he tells he loves the "wrapping", but it is what inside that counts. The body and the mind.
But should that mean that we should also not care? Is that now not allowed? The effort that we put in is never just about them, it is part of who we are.
But, now, in 2022, being like Bridget is discouraged. Embarrassing even. All of those traits that we saw in Bridget reflected in ourselves are now frowned upon. At a time when even the word woman is being taken away from us, by men who have decided they are women; why are our feminine traits being seen as wrong and traits attributed to men, now right?
There is nothing wrong with being confident. Forthright. Competitive. Single minded in our pursuits. Assertive. All typically "male" behaviours. An increase of these behaviours is all good for women, but more and more I see them the things that make us women, now actively discouraged and forbidden.
There is no right way to be a man or a woman. We can be any and all things, but by our choosing.
Even the choice to be a stay at home mum is now judged. I overheard a conversation the other day where a young twenty something was saying to friends that what she wanted most in life was to be a mother. At home, with her children. She was immediately jumped on. What about your career, your independence, your money. You can't "just" be a mother.
Of course she can. She can be anything she wants to be. Can't she?
I am not writing an anti Germaine Greer post, but I saw this quote from her relevant to this post.
If a woman never lets herself go, how will she ever know how far she might have got? If she never takes off her high-heeled shoes, how will she ever know how far she could walk or how fast she could run?
Can I not wear high heels? Put on my makeup, take an eternity to decide on what to wear? Why do these have to detract from the person that I am? Does this now make me vapid and silly? Why can't I be silly? Doing those things are part of what makes me, me. It does not make me less intelligent, less willing and able to be successful and walk the path that I want to.
But I want to walk that path the way I chose. Not chosen by others.
It feels sometimes like we have moved on from changing from we look like and how we dress for men, to now editing who we are as people and the persona we show to the world, for (some) women.
I walk to the beat of my own drum. Not others. I won't be told how to live my life or how to act/be. I see how far women have come, what we have achieved, what generations before us fought for and gained for us. I don't think they would want me to be put in another box.
We make our own rules. What we cannot and should not do, is impose those rules on others. So yes, part of me is Bridget. And I am not ashamed of that. Nor should I be.
9 October 2019
what it is to be a man. How it feels to grow through
puberty as a boy, experience male teenage hormones; how their bodies change;
what it feels like to deal with all of that.
Likewise, men will never know what
it is to be a woman. To experience our lives and live as we do.
How it feels when our periods begin
and we start to grow breasts. How it
feels when the world starts treating you differently because of it. How our emotions run riot.
The experience of being a man or
woman can be described to you, but you will never truly know or understand,
because it was not your experience. You
have not felt it. Lived it. So how can you truly know?
Yet now in 2019 we are told that
men can now be “actual born women”.
Because they feel like or identify as a woman, they are now women. How can you feel like something you have
never experienced? That you have no true
When a transgender woman gets breast augmentation, they see it as way to express their femininity.
Quite frankly though, it is nothing but fakery and bullshit. Breasts have nothing to do with how feminine you are or feel.
The way that transgender women think about breasts, is how men see and think about breasts. As sex objects. They make them feel sexy. They slap them on their bodies and pretend that this makes them a woman. They have no idea.
Trans women will never know how it feels to grow breasts at twelve years old and suddenly men are ogling you in the street. How growing breasts changed you to become something is now regarded as “available”. On the market. An object. Except on the inside, you are still a child who doesn't understand why grown men are whistling and catcalling you in the street.
Trans women can never know or experience what it is like to be told "boys will be boys"when you are sexually assaulted. In school. Daily. At fifteen years old.
Trans women are nothing but parodies of what they think women are. Fake breasts and clothes that look like they are living in a 1980s bordello.
If trans women actually knew the way that women think, had lived our experiences and had had our bodies, they would not be waltzing into our bathrooms, our changing rooms, our hospital wards and our refuges. They would understand the fear. They would understand how unsafe this makes us feel. Not just how unsafe we feel, but how unsafe we are when put in that situation.
But they don't. Because they think like men. They cannot understand that fear. Because they have never lived it in the same way that women have.
What they are is narcassistic men, who only see what they want and trample over everyone and everything to get it. All the while sporting a pair of plastic tits and calling themselves a "real woman".
Don't make me laugh.
30 July 2019
I took a long time to find my voice. To become the having a thousand thoughts and opinions a day kind of person.
Joining Twitter and starting to write my old blog were both an avenue and arena that I had never experienced before and were in part the catalyst for releasing my voice. As a result, many thoughts and opinions began to form. It took a bloody long while to get there, but one thing to know about me is that I can and never will be pushed. I come to things in my own time.
When I finally found my voice, "the left" seemed to be a natural home for me. I happily joined the camp of lefties and refused to listen to anyone with the slightest inclination of right leaning thought. Feminism was another world where I felt at home. Pro women, pro choice, an easy decision.
But what comes with finding your voice and having a thirst to learn more, is that you begin to question the worlds that you have chosen. The boxes you have placed yourself in and the boxes that people have put you in.
If you had spoken to me in September last year, I would have described myself as a uber leftie. An intersectional feminist. Accepting of all. The kool aid had been drunk and I was on the party message.
But then. I began to question the rhetoric. Ask questions. Object. Seeds of doubt about what I thought I believed were planted.
I wonder if Rachel McKinnon realises the amount of people that turned away from intersectionality as a result of them (yes I am being careful) winning that bike race. The photograph of them standing on the top of the podium. Clearly male bodied. Clearly advantaged over the two women who came second and third. That was the start.
From there, I was like Alice falling round the rabbit hole. My fall was akin to falling off a cliff and while I grabbed at points of information along the way, by the time I found my feet again, I was a different person; again.
I became irritated by the left who seemed to be becoming more self righteous and controlling by the day. As I have said in a previous blog post, the presumption of the public and the persona surrounding them has always been that the left are always on the moral side, the side of the people, the right side of history. The right was always wrong. So why did I become to feel so stifled? So controlled? Wasn't it the right that wanted to control us?
Feminism also began to irritate me. Specifically the holier than thou way that some went about it. I cared about women's safety, women's rights, not what a fucking sandwich was called or whether a man opened a door for me was a sign of the patriarchy.
I reached a point where I was no longer a leftie, I was a centrist. I wasn't sure whether I was still a feminist. I was gender critical. That I was certain of.
So from last October when I first started to question everything to know, I was in a state of flux. I became politically homeless as more and more parties swallowed and spouted out the line that trans women were women. They are not. They will never be.
I joined the club of being blocked by Owen Jones (we need a badge of pride I think at this point).
Whilst listening to and learning from many gender critical women, I was also told however that certain people within the movement were not to be listened to. That they were extremists that would ally themselves to anyone. But I wanted to listen and make up my own mind.
I was tired of the labels I had both chosen and had been given. My voice was not being censored, but I was conscious that some of the things I thought were again, would not be acceptable.
I wanted so much to go to the Woman's Place meeting in London. To see Sharron Davies who I think is fantastic and unafraid in what she says and thinks. Unfortunately timing issues were not on my side.
But then I saw Make More Noise were holding an event in Manchester. Talking about the elephant in the room of feminism. What we did not talk about/enough. Posie Parker was one of the speakers. One of the people I had been told not to listen to. But I wanted to make up my own damn mind.
I really enjoyed her speech. I also loved the talk by Sarah Phillimore which I understood more from my line of work.
But I was scared to admit that I had attended a talk with Posie involved. Then I got angry. I am tired of limiting myself and my experiences. Who I listen to. What information I should take from people.
So today, I am removing my labels. I am politically homeless. Not left, not right, not centrist. I will viewpoints from all and discard what I don't agree with. But only after I have listened. Supporting women, their sex based rights and the rights to their own bodies will always be the line I will stand on. But I'm taking off the word feminist too.
I am label free other than my biologically fact based description of being an adult human female.
I think I will end my (very long, sorry) blog post with a few things that I believe and all, are a hill I would stand up for and die on.
- Every person is entitled to the same human rights. No person or group need or deserve more than that. We don't (yet) live in the equivalent of Animal Farm.
- Lesbians do not have penises.
- Biological men do not belong in women's spaces.
- No one under the age of at least 18 should be on hormone altering medication or undergo gender altering surgery. It is child abuse.
- The state should not be telling parents what sex their child is.
- If you think that you are circumgender trans, you need psychological help, not affirmation.
- If you believe that putting on a dress, having a beard and calling yourself a lesbian is right, again, you need psychological help, not affirmation.
- If you believe that a woman saying no is not allowed because it may hurt your chosen identity feelings, you can frankly, fuck off.
Think I had better stop here. For now. More posts to follow. Thank you, if you got this far, for reading.
12 April 2019
Help for victims of domestic violence is in nothing short of crisis. 1.3 million women reported experiences of domestic violence in 2018 (source) which is a 100,000 increase from year before. Domestic violence crimes are also up a further 27%.
|Image from Pixabay|
9 October 2018
I volunteer as tribute!!!!!
29 March 2018
21 November 2017
17 October 2017
I won't talk about the allegations made against him here given that there are potential criminal charges against him. But I will speak about the culture that we have in society that enables, encourages and protects men like him.
A culture where women who speak out are called liars, whores; attention seekers and those that don't are blamed more than the perpetrator. A culture where men who report abuse "Aren't supposed to talk about it, man up!" and those that don't, live in misery.
I'm a woman and as this predominantly happens to many more women than men, I am focusing on the women's side in this blog. If you are a man who has experienced sexual assault or rape or wants to talk about the effects of what happens, write about it, I would read it, but your story isn't for this post.
The thing is, women do experience harassment, sexual assault and rape at a far larger scale than men. There are things that women are just supposed to accept, behaviours, actions and consequences.
We are supposed to keep silent.
Reactions to reporting that you have been harassed or assaulted many times ends up with "It isn't such a big deal, why you making such a fuss!", "He is a lovely guy, are you sure? Maybe you misunderstood?" and the favourite of the MRA/MGTOW section of the internet: "Prove it or it didn't happen".
I'm sorry, but I do not carry a bodycam on me and cannot prove that the man last year fake tripped and fell into me, conveniently grabbing on to my breasts to "lever himself". My life is not lived on CCTV.
When I was fifteen and two boys at school decided to wrestle me down at the bus stop after school every day for months grabbing at my breasts, my reporting it to a teacher received a look at my chest and a suggestion to wear a baggy shirt.
I stopped it myself. How? I paid them. I cannot remember the figure now, enough probably for them to buy a pack of cigarettes. The thing that kills me now is that I stayed friends with them. Society had already taught me that my large breasts were public property. It was not their fault, it was "their hormones".
23 years later it only now strikes me that no one stopped to help me. Ever. No one in the dozens of cars passing the grassy knoll next to bus stop on that busy road ever stopped. People must have seen. I guess they thought that I was "asking for it".
The hashtag #HowWillIChange was started today and whilst a few good and on the point comments were made, it was quickly overrun with angry men who missed the point completely and of course, as usual, those there just to throw vitriol at women. Their daily game.
I have seen so many tweets saying "I have never assaulted a woman so I don't need to change". Well done. Have a cookie for never assaulting a woman. But let me ask you this.
Have you ever had a friend or a family member hurl sexist slurs at a woman? Have you been in a car and your friend has shouted out something sexual at a woman in the street? Have you been there in a bar when a friend has grabbed at a woman's breasts for "a gag". Have you been speaking to a male friend after a night out when he tells you that "she was totally passed out but I went for it anyway". Have you?
If you have experienced any of these things and not said anything, not called out your friend or relative, let me tell you, you are complicit. You are enabling the behaviour to continue.
Your silence is deafening.
I was an early developer. I remember being around 12 and going to a local playground. I was on the roundabout when a group of older boys approached me. The leader of the pack starting making sexual comments about my breasts and asking if he could "feel me up". The other boys, whom I looked to in the hope that they would pull him up on his behaviour, looked uncomfortable, but ultimately, said nothing.
Would they have let him says those things about their sister? I doubt it. But whether teenage boys or older men, it still seems that a value has to be placed on a woman before she is seen as a human being. If you have to think of a woman as someone you can relate to in order to see that someone's actions against them are wrong, you are also part of the problem.
So how do we ask men to help change this culture we live in? Listen to us. Take responsibility for your actions and own up to those people around you who behave in that way. Just because he is your friend, your relative does not excuse him from common decent behaviour.
Women should not have to share their stories, like the couple of examples I have shared today in order to highlight that we have a big issue in society.
We are not Hansel and Gretel, dropping the crumbs of our experiences on the floor until you find enlightenment.
We have been silent. We will not be silent any more. You make not like it, it may make you uncomfortable. It may make you question yourself, your actions and those of people who you know. But we are not going away and the wall of shame that women feel about what happens to them is coming down.
Don't be that guy. Be better. We can all be better.
17 February 2017
31 July 2014
- You live in a first world country, you’re employed and you have a good judicial system. You don’t need feminism. Feminism has done its job for you”.
- Rape culture does not exist.
- Women are not victims and we don’t need protecting.
- Being a stay at home wife is my choice
- Thinking that it is funny to wear a t-shirt saying “I’m feeling rapey today”.
- Blaming a woman’s clothing/amount she had to drink on the fact that she was raped. I’ve actually heard it compared to “don’t put expensive items in your window if you don’t want to get burgled”.
- Teaching women how to not get raped, instead of teaching men not to rape.
- When girls are raped and then photographed and harassed online.
- Judges telling a convicted rapist “You are not a classic rapist, you simply couldn’t resist” and overturning rape convictions because “she didn’t act like a victim”.