The Orlando Shootings

My dear readers, we have been alive to hear of the latest and most horrific mark on the honour of the United States, the worst mass shooting in all of American history in terms of sheer numbers. 50 dead, 53 injured. If you are still unaware of this story, in the early hours of Sunday (2:00AM local time), a gunman opened fire in a gay club in Orlando, Florida. The man was armed with an assault rifle and opened fire on a venue said to be hosting more than 300 people inside as part of a Latin themed event. At 2:09AM, the official Facebook page of the club instructed everyone to run away and keep running. The man took hostages and holed himself up inside the club, before police resorted to using explosives to create a hole in the wall of the building and storm inside. The gunman was shot and killed, though not before apparently declaring his allegiance to IS. Make no mistake, this story must not fade from our memories, this must be remembered as both a human tragedy and an LGBT tragedy.

The news have been eager to deflect on the LGBT angle, calling this a tragedy committed against people as a whole, rather than against a community but that is unfair. If a gunman shot down 50 Jewish people, we’d call them anti-semitic. If a gunman shot down 50 church-goers, we’d call them an antitheist. If you are considering a tragedy such as this, it is important we know who committed it and against whom and in this scenario, this man opened fire on a known LGBT venue – this is hate crime. You could try and argue that it being a gay bar, as opposed to a normal bar, doesn’t give it any extra weight to the story but the difference is more palpable than many of us can relate to. A gay bar is not just a watering hole for a community, it’s a sanctuary, it’s a place where you are the norm. As straight white people, you can walk into almost anywhere in the Western hemisphere and feel that you are the social default, the definition of ‘normal’. Gay bars, black churches, Muslim neighbourhoods, you might feel walking into such places as a straight white person puts you ill-at-ease but that is because you are walking into a different community, a community of people who adhere to different ways of life or look different to you but have banded together with those like themselves to look out for each other. In a world where there have been attacks on Sikhs just for wearing turbans and thus, being assaulted as ‘terrorists’, many of us want to be in a safe familiar setting where the man sat opposite us looks like us or thinks like us. A gay bar is just that, a place to deviate from the expected-heteronormative and not be judged for it.

IS have claimed they were behind this, whilst groups such as Westboro Baptist Church call this the wrath of God. Me, I call bullshit, I think IS wants to label any act of hatred or destruction as their work to make us scared and ignorant, to make us think they have power over us when in fact, they are nothing more than rag-tag thugs exploiting opportunities as they arise for lack of a better strategy, a cult of twisted madmen playing themselves up as the heralds of the apocalypse. Still, we expect this of them, they are profiteering hate-mongers wanting us to cast out our Islamic brothers and sisters into their receiving arms, that they might manipulate their resentments into weaponised anger. This gunman claims his allegiance to them but the FBI themselves have found no link, this is more than likely a blame-shift to the IS because you hear IS, your racist buddy hears “Syrian immigrant”. If you ask me, this is one man, one twisted man, using the assault rifle his country’s laughable laws allow him access to, as a means of executing a vendetta he has against those different to him. Also, funny coincidence, funny being extremely facetious, that the worst mass shootings in recent memory were against a gay bar, a planned parenthood clinic and an all-black church service, these seem like the communities another cult of hatred would like to see gone and I don’t mean IS.

Worst of all, in reaction to this, even worse than the news channels saying “This isn’t an LGBT tragedy, don’t politicise this (which I’ll address next)”, was Trump. Donald Trump, the pile of human excrement, has said this is what should lead Obama to resign for refusing to admit that this was the work of Islam and has decided to resort to “I told you so”, saying had the US tightened its borders, this wouldn’t have happened. First of all Trump, you sputum-sucking sack of horse shit, the gunman was an American-born man so that doesn’t work and secondly, he was not indoctrinated by some foreigner coming in and egging him on, he was inspired by online content and his own personal disgust for the LGBT community, his own father said so. I cannot be civil when it comes to Trump, the man is a buffoon to say the very least but to take a tragedy and use it as a moment to boast that you were the prophet of this, he is not only a buffoon but an amoral pus-filled sore on the face of the United States of America.

Politicise this, I said this of Paris attacks, I will say it of this, this is a matter to get worked up about. Be angry that the media is overlooking what this venue once meant to the LGBT community, be angry that the far-right feels the victims were struck down by God, be angry that the US is so backwards, an assault rifle is fine but an abortion is murder. Our modern world forgets things fast, we digest what we can and leave things behind, be it memes, memories or stories of tragedy but not this one. Almost twice as many people died in this attack as in the Sandy Hook shootings, more than twelve times as many people were injured in this attack as in the Binghamton shootings, this is not some bullshit story about a Kardashian or a Game of Thrones twist nobody saw coming, we are not going to just talk about this for a week and then move on to the uplifting story of a pug that rescued a drowning kitten or whatever, we are going to demand justice.

Now that I have you riled up or afraid, let me end on this note that I want all of you to remember, especially those of the LGBT community. In the wake of this, you may find yourself scared and uncertain of the future, you may want answers or vengeance or security. Firstly remember that your enemy is never a religion or a race, all religions and races are capable of good and bad. You may have friends or neighbours who are Muslim and feeling vulnerable so I implore you to reach out to them. Secondly, do not let this fear rule you. The LGBT flag is a rainbow, reflecting all the colours of the sexual spectrum, a world beyond the black and white of the gender and sexual binary but the colours stand for more than that, they stand for hope, pride and freedom. If you let this tragedy scare you into being someone different, terrorism has defeated you. Don’t shy away from going out. Go out more. Have some fucking sensational parties and drink to those who aren’t there to share the drinks with you, to the siblings you never met or the siblings that the hate in this world stole from you. Be louder, be prouder, be especially queer and never let hatred win.

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4/20 Fiasco

4/20, a day unofficially recognised as a celebration of all things marijuana, a day to light it up and get high and other such shit. Look, I won’t even ATTEMPT to use the colloquial terms, I’m so square I could lie down flat and get a decent job as a spirit gauge. Point is, if you smoke weed, or even if you just have a general interest in the world beyond your bed, you know what 4/20 is all about. We all have our own ways of celebrating it, though I myself spend it celebrating my brother’s birthday that falls on the same day, but I think the weirdest recent recognition of the day was Snapchat’s Bob Marley filter, a photo filter for selfies that superimposed Bob Marley’s face onto yours and darkened your skin tone to match. Yeah, that does sound weird when you look at a literal description of it. Is this harmless fun? Well…

I want to put up a disclaimer and say I recognise the connection between Bob Marley and marijuana, I’m not an idiot, and my opinions on this are not influenced by the fact I have never smoked anything in my life, closest I get to smoking is salmon. As a liberal man, I support the legalisation of marijuana, it is far less harmful than alcohol, which is legal, and its criminalisation is the result of an idealistic and unenforceable war on drugs, started by our forefathers and fuelled by myths and ignorance. Marijuana is not a gateway drug or chemically addictive substance, it doesn’t blacken lungs or turn you into a violent lunatic, it is a plant that happens to have recreational benefits when set on fire, nuff said. Furthermore, my opinion is in no way influenced by the choice of Bob Marley, I’m not hating on the dude, I am not an avid fan but I do like his music and appreciate the cultural influence of the man. So, with that established, let me explain why personally I’m taken aback by this poor move by Snapback. Cue the non-PC outrage in the comments.

First of all, let’s face it, this is blackface. No, don’t bullshit me, don’t come out with “It’s not blackface, it’s…”, it’s blackface. You are taking a non-black face, putting a black face on top and playing it up for a laugh. Jim from IT is a white dude living with his mother who listens to Weird Al and Stereophonics, his weekends are spent modding Skyrim and he is most certainly not a famous rastafarian musician. Didn’t like that stereotype? Guess what? Black people don’t appreciate the making of Marley into a stereotype of a laidback black man with dreads and a funky hat smoking weed, he is a cultural icon. Snapchat has a history of struggling to accurately represent diversity, evading questions about the percentages of employee races in their company by saying they don’t think of people as numbers. I mean, amen to that but y’know, we kind of need numbers to make sense of what we’re doing, not looking at your bank balance is not the same as making the situation more financially manageable, trust me.

Bob Marley, as a man, was more than just a dude who got stoned and this filter, that immediately slaps his face on yours just because it’s the 20th April, reduces his legacy to his drug habit. Bob Marley was more than just a man who loved his weed and yes he campaigned for its legalisation but that was not all he did, he fought for peace and the fair representation of minorities, he opposed a system that dehumanizes us all but one that especially dehumanised people like him. The music he became famous for showed a love and respect for his culture and his faith, the lyrics of which resonated with the pacifists inside us and went on to influence not only a genre of music as a whole but generations of peaceful protests after him. Also, Marley didn’t smoke weed just for shits and giggles, he did it as a spiritual exercise of meditation, a means of understanding himself.

“When you smoke herb, herb reveal yourself to you. All the wickedness you do, the herb reveal itself to yourself, your conscience, show up yourself clear, because herb make you meditate. Is only a natural t’ing* and it grow like a tree.”

*Source uses ‘t’ing’ instead of ‘thing’, reflecting his accent, I have not changed this text

Read that and understand the difference between what you think he cared about and what he did care about. We far too often recall Bob Marley as just that reggae guy who got high a lot and this filter does nothing to combat that, all it’s done is said “Umm, 4/20, Bob Marley right?”, like some sort of bad joke.

Now, a counter-argument you might have for me is that Bob Marley’s family themselves approved this idea right? Well, hate to break it to you, they’re not the sole representatives of their heritage, it’s not like them saying “It’s not blackface” will make every other black person shrug and walk away like it’s not a problem, who are they to speak for everyone and tell them it’s not offensive or not perhaps cheapening the legacy of a national treasure into a joke? Marley’s image wasn’t a construct like the image of Elvis or Motley Crue, it wasn’t a style picked out to be memorable, he wore the clothes of his spirituality and his culture, making them into easy jokes for stoner humour is like making a Jesus filter for people on Easter. By the way, imagine the shitstorm we’d get if there was a whiteface filter to commemorate a dead white person hey, as a cheap joke no less? World AIDS day, we get Freddie Mercury tashes on everyone. The Marley family are, for want of better words, money-grabbers, licensing the Bob Marley image to everything under the sun they reckon would sell better if it had his face on it. I personally find that disgusting and a forewarning to my children if I ever become famous, if I die and you memorialise me by selling Old Man Wolfe branded soap, I’ll come back from the dead and wash your skulls out with it. Soap. Fucking soap. The man made an entire cultural history of music mainstream and known to the world and his name is stuck on a bar of hemp-scented soap. Fuck me.

I’m not just out to be a stick in the mud but I feel that making this filter was in poor taste, it’s harmless fun to the white would-be hippies amongst us but to those who share in Marley’s heritage, their sacred herb and an icon of their society is being made into a comic fad to amuse idiots. This will all be swept under the rug before the week is out and Snapchat won’t face any real backlash, nor will the Marley brand lose any customers for a lack of integrity, and that in itself is disturbing. We all, in 2016, just blinked at a show of blackface. Bob Marley, forgive us. Please please please forgive us.

Before Friendship

It probably comes as a surprise to none of you reading this that my opinions earn me just as much ire as they do respect. For every feminist that stands at my side or ME sufferer that applauds the awareness I raise, there is another person willing to call me an over-sensitive wuss or accusing me of ignoring the struggles of men. Don’t be mistaken, this blog doesn’t get the traffic necessary for anonymous hate mail and when I do receive that, I can shrug it off as easy as anything. No, far more often, the people waiting to the sidelines to jump in with snide comments and putdowns are friends and family. My usual response is try to talk to them one to one to explain my point of view but if they’re gonna be pig-headed or, heaven forbid, insulting, that’s that and their name is quickly scratched from any Christmas card list I have going. I’ll never back down on my morals, I just can’t, morals define who we are, our codes are unique and we must not let others force us to against them or we lose ourselves. I won’t deny it can be disheartening but I won’t ever compromise on that aspect of myself. That said, here are some common arguments I want to lay to rest:

1. “That’s just your opinion”

I will not cut you out of my life for having a different opinion to me. I will not cut you out of my life for following a different religion or voting differently to me (Unless you support a party such as UKIP or Britain First). I understand my friends will have different opinions to me, I have friends who think minions are adorable, that Transformers are dull and that Dynasty Warriors is a braindead button-mashing experience but I don’t unfriend people over that. Opposing feminism isn’t having a different opinion to me, it’s an entire viewpoint away from mine, a whole different set of rules and values that just aren’t compatible with my own. Using feminism as an example, if you’re anti-feminist, then there a whole host of views that you may or may not fall in line with – victim blaming, slut shaming, the ‘place’ of women in society, friend-zoning, supporting such views is anti-feminism and opposing them? Pro. You might not wear the label but if you believe a woman shouldn’t deserve to be abused because of what she wears, that’s a feminist belief. Opinions are singular, you can look past those, what I am talking about is so much more than “That’s just what I think”, it’s “That’s what I deem to be morally correct”

2. “You’re refusing to hear what you don’t want to”

I think it’s fair to say that in this day and age of technology and viral videos and such, burying your head in the sand and ignoring the world around you is harder and harder to do unless you exclusively use the internet to do your Tesco food shop and watch porn and even then there’s probably going to be some crossover. We have the right to speak, the right to listen and the right to ignore, it’s a big deal with free speech. In all fairness, I’m not so much rejecting the viewpoint, I have to accept that such views exist and I am constantly aware of it, that’s why I do what I do, what I’m rejecting is the association of friendship between people like that and myself. I am AWARE of Donald Trump, that doesn’t mean if we met I’d have to have him added on Facebook to know that he is a racist orange gibbon.

3. “Refusing to talk to people with different views is cowardly and proof you can’t beat them in a debate”

This, I hear a lot, a sort of “If you don’t fight your case, you’ve lost” deal, like I’m on trial every time I put a link to a Laci Green vid in a status. I’ll start by saying that flat out refusing to talk to someone just because they’re right-wing or such isn’t how I start, that’s certainly a buffer I have up against new friends or partners, if a date makes a joke about Poland being full of cut-rate builders ruining the British economy by taking our jobs, I know I won’t need to bother asking her out on a second date. I do try and talk people around and I find, more often than not actually, it is not me that first resorts to personal attacks. Granted, in the past, I’ve had a tendency towards dismissing my opponents as imbeciles but more recently, it is often my critics that come forth with harsh barbs. A wide belief is the first to resort to such, is out of actual intelligent points to argue. I will try and talk someone around but if they’re being unpleasant or mocking me or such, I have no obligation to listen to the rest of what they might say

4. “What about Echo Chambers?”

Echo Chambers, for those who are unaware, are the idea of having a social media account that is loaded with nothing but people who agree with everything you say or do and as such, you become both big-headed and narrow-minded. I mean, if a hundred or so people are telling you on a near daily basis that you are very clever, attractive and morally righteous, surely it stands to reason you might one day believe all that to be fact? Well, aside from my hilariously out-of-hand anxiety having the power to keep any sort of ego of mine in check, not all my friends agree with me on everything I do and we are all capable of critical thinking. Dangerous as it is, I will always peruse the comment sections of news articles and videos, to see different views being expressed beneath. Largely, I’ll admit, it is people making vulgar remarks and such but there are a broad spectrum of opinions represented in these places, some fact-checked, some not, and I will take my time to mine the internet for comments actually worth reading. However, beyond that, on something like Facebook, can you blame people for wanting to be surrounded by people that like them a whole bunch and tell them nice things when we as a society are so readily prepared to pull one another apart? If you want an Echo Chamber, go ahead, you can always self-administer some doses of reality by watching the news or going outside, you don’t need a quota of dickheads on your Friends list to water down your self-confidence.

5. “You won’t win anyone around to your way of thinking by unfriending them”

Err… I’m sorry, when did that become my obligation? When did it become my job to try and win the hearts and minds of every person I meet? No, you see, the BLOG is where it’s my job to defend my viewpoints because that’s all this is, this is literally a website full of me saying shit I think and believe. My Facebook is just my day-to-day thought journal and means of contacting friends and sharing dumb photos I like because penguins are in it or it contains a pun or something. In my daily life, I have every right to just tell someone to piss off because Jacob Wolfe needs his space, Old Man Wolfe, on this site, is the guy doing the debating and lengthy arguments and such and if I need to illustrate my point, I can just tell Facebook friend “Go read this thing I wrote THEN talk to me”. I’ll defend my beliefs at any point in life, sure, but a highlight of the digital age is that if someone is an annoying wanker, you can click a button and they no longer exist in your radar, why would that not be a feature I would make use of?

Well, that’s that then, feel free to use these points in your own rebuttals when you have to explain to your parents why you blocked Aunt Carol on Facebook because she won’t stop sharing anti-vaccination posts on her profile. Your media, your choices, you don’t have any obligation to argue with people if you don’t want to and your beliefs are more than just opinions, they make you who you are and if people can’t accept them, they can’t accept you and that’s not on. Tolerance is all well and good but it’s a two-way street so don’t just put up with nonsense for the sake of being a good person, you have to let yourself break away from toxic influences. Just keep up to date on the world affairs and you won’t lose sight of reality behind rose-tinted glass (And hey, fuck reality once in awhile, take an evening a week or something or an hour of the day to just forget David Cameron is in power and go play a game or watch a film). Remember that you are no less for wanting to spend more time in the company of people like you and that it is a clever move to remove people from your life who will only cause you harm or upset. Okay? That’s all.

Really need a sign off phrase…

The Break Up About Makeup

So I don’t often read The Mirror, it’s too closely related to The Sun and it’s mostly just scary fear-mongering bullshit you could pick apart for hate speech as easily as one could pick apart flaky pastry but I saw an article about a school in Manchester that are getting tougher on their makeup ban by having teachers come prepared with wet wipes to rub the makeup right off the faces of their students. Now, as British people, we like to fall into two polarised camps about the most inane shit (A 5p plastic bag charge is reasonable and environmentally conscious/ TAKE THAT SMUG CASHIER OUTSIDE AND KICK HIS TEETH IN FOR CHARGING ME FIVE PENCE) so obviously, this has the same level of division – some say it’s entirely understandable and students shouldn’t wear makeup of any sort and some say it’s unfair to enforce a series of rules designed only to affect female students that discriminates against them on an appearance basis. Where do I fall? Guess.

Now, I’m going to regale you with some more personal experience stories, because that is clearly very interesting. In my school days, I was not a feminist, I believed a woman had all the same rights as a man so by that definition I was but I could be prone to some deep-rooted casual sexism that a young man picks up in a male-dominated culture. One such sexist belief reflected itself when our school tightened the rules on makeup to include absolutely no foundation or mascara of any sort, plain face, aside from brushed hair and clean teeth, that’s your face done. The female body of students, or at least a good chunk of them, organised a sit-in protest on the playground and my initial reaction, at that time, was to laugh thinking “How pathetic, they’re really going to waste everyone’s time just so they can keep their precious face paint? Morons”. I thought it insignificant, not worth debate and when the protest fall apart after one particularly strong-worded ultimatum from a teacher, I laughed my teenage ass off. This big protest, I thought, fell flat at the first hurdle, well that says something for the people stupid enough to get involved in it that they wouldn’t defend it more stubbornly, seems even they know they’re time-wasters. Looking back on that, that’s not fair of me to say that about them and though the protest ultimately didn’t even last a day, the cause was valid, they were students not wanting to get into trouble at school is all. Well, allow me now to make amends.

Now, it may come as a surprise to some of you but when a woman wears make up or revealing attire, it isn’t always for the attention of others, especially when she is young. As a teenage girl hitting the ever so lovely stage of puberty, that girl’s face and body undergo a lot of changes, some that will empower her and some that will make her feel awful. Oh hey, that goofy roundish chubby child face has slimmed out? I look good… except it is covered in enough spots to look like a dot-to-dot of the Mona Lisa. Good thing I have this AMAZING PRODUCT THAT SUBTLY HIDES ALL OF THOSE IMPERFECTIONS… only that’s not allowed. You might say well hey, boys don’t get concealer, they have to endure a puberty of strained voices and greasy faces, why shouldn’t girls? Well, there’s not as much pressure on boys for their appearance as there is for girls, teenage boys aren’t supposed to be hot yet by societal standards, we accept that there are cute boys and hunky men but teenage boys are hideous and everyone is cool with that, aside from the odd joke. Teenage girls? Well that’s when a girl stops being a girl to society and becomes sexualised, it’s when people start mentally undressing her and wondering what kind of woman she’ll be. With men, it is not as obvious at what stage they are in their development, we don’t exactly all stand around like “Jim’s grown a few inches down there… he’s looking good” but we do notice that suddenly Ginger Katie got boobs and now everyone’s trying to convince her they never once called her Ginger Minge. The pressure mounts and with puberty varying from person to person, women can much more readily be left feeling weird and excluded than teen boys. All teen boys, bar the exceptionally lucky and unlucky, are spotty-faced sweat machines with weird voices but teen girls? Casey got hot, Sophie got super spotty, Tara currently has the biggest bust in all Year Ten, they are compared and criticised by their peers and, in a way, by their teachers. No, I don’t mean in a pervy way, let me clarify.

A female student who wears make-up is seen as masking something, as beguiling people with regards to her looks and depending on the varying degrees, some assume she is either just wearing a little to look good or a lot because she’s a full-on sexual deviant. The same is true of girls who wear short skirts at school, is she just a girl in a skirt or is she trying to catch the eyes of the boys? The students ponder this but so do teachers, who will then criticise overly… glamourous(?) students for “distracting the students”. This, this I hate, and no not because I enjoy oggling teenagers, don’t be so crude. If you send a female student away from a lesson to rub makeup off and wash her face, you send her out of class for ten minutes and that’s ten minutes of lesson time she’s missed and a lesson learnt in that your self-confidence in your appearance is less important than this class. I do so hate the school system for breaking down individuality into “Learn subject material and learn to regurgitate it on cue, the more you can memorise, the more you’re worth” and I understand arguments in defense of uniform appearance but this gets worse. The makeup, bad but worse than this, the classic “Go home and change, you are distracting the boys”

What?

1. I would rather discriminate against one girl than try to teach the future generation of men that they should not stare up skirts

2. Rather than punish the boys for perving on their fellow student and allowing themselves to be distracted from their education, it makes more sense to take you out of school for an hour because your education means less to me than theirs

3. I am telling you to change your appearance FOR THEIR SAKE. I am teaching you that your body is not your own, it is subject to the thoughts and perversions of men. If your appearance distracts a man, you are at fault.

With the pressure on girls to look good, they try just that, be it to feel good or to fit in, but we pin blame on them for trying too hard or not trying enough. Concealer and foundation, which do not distract a man, are not attempts to be fashionable but to cover over spots and flaws they know they will be bullied for having. I was a lucky youth, I wasn’t particularly spotty and where I was spotty, fell under my fringe so no fucker could tell most of the time, but if I had a face covered in enough spots to make a dalmation vomit, I’d want something to remedy the solution too. Don’t tell me Clearasil and Oxy and whatever are the answer, you try that shit, it takes six weeks to kick in and all it does is make the bastards a shade less red. Awesome, guess I’ll invest in a good paper bag. Women are forced into a lifelong beauty pageant, whilst school for boys is a battleground, school for girls is a Miss Universe contest so no shit they want to cover up that zit that looks like it needs its own postcode. Boys, we just comb our hair, wash our junk and spray deodorant, that is it, that is as hot as we can hope for but nobody gives a shit. Girls, unless teen you look like how films portray teen girls (As basically “You’ll hope I’m 18 or you’ll feel so weird watching me strut around in shorts”), you can bet cruelty will circle around you.

Oh, and one more thing, can we talk about how female teachers, in makeup, say makeup is unacceptable in a school? Teachers have their own dress code sure, but if we’re saying that makeup is a distraction, why is it only a distraction on teen girls? Doesn’t distract boys when teachers wear it, ever thought maybe teen boys don’t care? If they do, why are teen boys never challenged? This is my biggest thing, why was I never challenged? I recall one incident in which a student at my school, whom was quite attractive, had water spilt down her shirt and it revealed the bra she had on underneath. The teacher ushered her out and told her to go get a clean shirt and stop causing a scene and that she shouldn’t be wearing a bra that’d show so clearly under a white shirt. Yeah, her UNDERWEAR was not in line with school code, for being a bold colour that’d show up should she spill water down herself. She left, teacher looks to the lads who are of course discussing her bra and I happened to be sat near this group. Do we get told off or told to grow up? Nope, just “Alright class, settle down, let’s continue…”. WHAT? I didn’t care then but I care now, why aren’t they being called out on sexualising a fellow student and discussing her in an inappropriate manner but she’s a trouble-maker for wearing underwear? She didn’t start a wet t-shirt contest, she didn’t plan to perform a burlesque routine, she just happened to go “I’ll wear the black bra today”, that was that. She wasn’t distracting the boys, the boys distracted themselves with a lengthy discourse about tits, challenge THAT behaviour.

In summary, I don’t see makeup and short skirts as being a huge distraction, if anything making them banned in schools makes them a distraction when someone doesn’t adhere to that rule, as all rule-breaking behaviours are. Boys are not animals, if they care about their education they will not let blue eye shadow detract from that and if they don’t care well then hey, you are either a teacher/parent, make them care. If boys are so easily distracted by a short skirt, rein them in, don’t teach them that women are to blame for their minds straying, teach them how to focus, teach them that they’re going to encounter makeup and short skirts and attractive women for the rest of their lives, they can’t let themselves be distracted by it and they can’t think it acceptable to stare at their peers like they’re rotisserie chickens. Let teenage girls be teenage girls, let them build confidence in their appearance and in turn, let teenage boys know the difference between right and wrong.

The Year Ahead: 2016

Okay, so I’ll begin by saying that this will probably sound like the typical ‘new year, new me’ nonsense that the cynics amongst us love to shoot down without mercy – we are always sceptical of change, especially change in people, and we make a joke out of people who claim they are going to but honestly, you have to credit people for even trying and maybe a lot of them will give up on that new outlook three weeks into the new year but some of them don’t and that is quite remarkable. With that in mind, let’s move on shall we? Allow me to share what I hope 2016 will have in store for me and what I have in store for 2016.

So, the big thing is I joined a gym, I’ve already attended a session and I’m going again on Monday. I’m tied into a twelve month contract, can’t leave it without 30 days notice so I’m going to commit to it and this will encourage me to actually work out – last year I tried getting fit by just going for jogs around the local scenery and this was nice but it was way too easy to find excuses not to do it (It’s rained a bit, I’m tired, my friend said they’d come but they’re not going to). With the gym membership, if I don’t go, I’m charging myself £9.99 a month to be a lazy asshole and I’ve not joined alone – both friends and family have joined up so I always have someone to go with and if I don’t go then I have lots of people to encourage me to do so, rather than just relying on myself to be motivated. The plan with the gym is to bust the gut and have a body I can be happy with, at the very least to not have any overhang above the belt considering I don’t recall having that same pudge two years ago and I don’t much like having it now.

Aside from the physical fitness regime, 2016 is the year I plan to make the year in which my blog reaches into new territory, namely vlog territory. The Facebook page is already home to some fun playthrough videos, which if you haven’t watched I encourage you to do so, but still there is work to be done and I’m not content just yet. I have the resources to hand at long last to begin making bigger strides into the internet community, to stop being some obscure little blog down the back of the metaphorical sofa, I’m going to be a name people recognise and it won’t happen right away but 2016 is where I get things going. People have stepped up to help here and there and plans are underway. I really want to make 2016 the year I get personal projects off the ground, 2015 was going to be all that but aside from clearing the table to get the work done, fuck all happened. Life got in the way, I understand, but maybe there’s a workaround and it’s time I found out what that was if this is ever going to be something more than it is currently.

Personal life wise, I need to find a way to move on, in multiple senses of the term. I feel myself stagnating and my friends assure me it isn’t so but I’ve spinning my wheels and enough is enough. Get a job, get up on my own two feet and get to a place where I can actually respect who I am and feel secure in that. I realise these goals are vague, they say vague ambitions are no ambitions at all but honestly, I’ve been so dizzied by my life lately that this is as coherent as I can do at the moment. At the time of writing, I have a terrible rash down my back and legs that bleeds at random, shoulder pain, back pain, chest pain and sudden headaches akin to being on the receiving end of Thor’s wrath.

I’m going to stop rambling, I’ve been told I go on longer than I need to on posts like this so let me just say that I hope you will come to hear more from me this year and I wish you every success in your ventures, as I’m sure you do in mine… otherwise, why are you here right?

My 2015

Happy New Year! I had hoped to be posting today’s post yesterday and tomorrow’s post today but it seemed all out of nowhere I had a life again, with places to be and people to see and that was exciting so it took precedent over writing blog posts for basically those same people to read. I’m going to look back on my year today and tomorrow, look forward to the new and this post is for those of you who take some interest in the man behind the rant and how his head works (Spoiler Alert: Not very well)

2014, as it drew to a close, had been an odd year but it ended on a high note because whilst I had recently become unemployed and was still in the same old situation of single and sponging off my family whilst earning just enough to pay for my own things (Social life, phone bills, contributions to the home), I was happy enough and I figured with such valuable experience and good friends, life would work out. 2015 then, said “Ehh…” and whilst I had been employed for a good chunk of the year, working in care, come the end of the summer I was now back on benefits, the margins for which had tightened and the people giving the handouts had gotten meaner than I ever remembered them being. Alas, getting ahead of myself so I’ll try to follow the course of the year and explain myself, omitting names of course for the sake of those involved.

Looking back at what scraps of a journal I had maintained in the start of the year, the year started on a bum note, social events being scrapped last minute and my general tone in the book is grim but with a sort of underlying hope, something I can admit is the same now. The ambitious plan to go jogging out in the wild fell into obscurity around February but then things got better around March because although I had been going through one heck of an odd journey with a friend of mine, I then found myself employed and in a job that didn’t make me want to throttle people, which is hard to come by. All seemed well, perhaps the key word being seemed.

Through no fault of their own but rather their circumstances and general isolation, I was employed as the sole carer of someone, and though we were told there would be more hours and pay coming my way someday, tomorrow never came and I found myself worked to the bone as the carer, cleaner, personal shopper, psychiatrist and advocate of someone who really just needed the various officials in her life to shut up and listen to her. Things reached a peak and the pressure of it all caused her to breakdown, followed shortly after by me and so she found an alternate living arrangement and I found myself unemployed. No malice held for them for what they chose to do, they did what was best for them and for me – after all, I could get work again and whilst I am currently unemployed, at the time of writing three different employers are all very interested in me.

So, with the autumn and winter ahead, my 21st looming and Christmas after that, I was back on the hunt for work, honing my skills in retail by making my semi-triumphant return to Oxfam, having become something of an urban legend in the place judging by the number of “(VOLUNTEER NAME) told me about you, I’m (NAME)”, perhaps the most realistic substitute for actual fame is that sort of remark – though 2015 was the year that saw my blog reach new heights of over 1000 views in a week, video posts on my Facebook page and even some recognition on the street as “That wanker who writes about feminism”.

2015 wasn’t all doom and gloom, there are some friends I found myself closer to than I had been previously and whilst some saw fit to kick me whilst down, I at least weeded out bad eggs in the process – namely people harboring hilariously outdated views and people willing to abandon my friendship for £20, go figure. I also made a new friend in someone whom previously I had not exactly been pally with, they were friends with people who belittled me in my youth and they then contacted me, having remembered me from encountering my blog, they then apologised for following the crowd and explained themselves to the point where we mutually agreed that school isn’t about an education, it’s some sort of psychologically traumatising rites of passage in which you are just doing whatever it takes to get through it and we just happened to have different means of doing that. I also changed medical practice and got my formal diagnosis at long last, considering my former GP was determined my social anxiety was nothing more than “stress” and the need for “a good holiday somewhere nice”, as if I had that as an option.

So 2015 ended with me now unemployed, still single and my depression has only gotten worse but on the upside, perhaps those things won’t last. 2014 ended with me single and unemployed but also lost, which I tried to pass off as looking for opportunities but with no idea where to look where as now, I have jobs lined up, fewer but better friends and I signed up to an actual gym so if nothing else, I can at least be attractive whilst wallowing in self-pity!

Happy New Year and shit.

Christmas 2015

Merry Christmas dear readers, is the turkey sitting nicely in your gut (or vegan equivalent? So as not to discriminate). I hope this year finds you all doing well and of course, wishing you the best for the year to come. As is becoming of yearly traditions, I am here to fill you in on my Christmas and a recap of the lead up to it, from my perspective, because that is what you are here to read. I am not a newspaper nor a company, merely a man with a blog that you all seem to take some interest in, however slight or strong it may be.

I will admit I have not looked forward to Christmas – unemployment, tight finances, dwindling social life and a constant stream of happiness from the world around me seemingly for everyone bar me has had me greet festivity with bitterness in my heart. As I write this, that bitterness begins to come forth once again, as it often does in an evening. I made my efforts though, I am not one to let my personal woes ruin the joy of others and so I participated in gift-giving, jumper-wearing and cheer-spreading, albeit with a somewhat pained grimace where a smile should have been. Today in itself consisted of the usual gift-unwrapping followed by films, Doctor Who, dinner and then everyone toddles off again to do their own thing, my thing being returning to my little cell of a bedroom to brood and contemplate on doing something creative until it is suddenly 2:34AM and all I have achieved is removing my trousers and staring at the utter lack of notifications I have to attend to on my Facebook.

Christmas, in a sense, has yet to actually come for me because whilst I have received cash from the folks and a new shirt from one of my brothers, the bulk of my gifts are coming from friends I have not had the chance to see yet and perhaps on those occasions I will feel more cheery. As it stands, home life is not cheery, tensions are high here and there has been far too much aggression in the air to call this a holly jolly holiday. Interesting, when one considers this might be my last Christmas like this – though I feel perhaps that was considered by everyone present and some perhaps greeted that thought with the silent response of “Thank goodness”, there has been no attempt to bury hatchets here and hostilities are either laid plain or knives are sharpened behind backs. Indeed, perhaps even this blog is my knife, though whom it would cut remains to be seen as my work is met with the most trifling interest by my family.

I apologise, I am a downer on a day of joy, such is my lot. I wish I had stories of charity and cheer to tell and whilst this season has not been an endless suffering on my part, indeed one party was attended and unexpected gifts have been assured to be coming my way yet as it stands, at this time on this day, I feel a black mist grip my soul and drag it back down like always. I look forward to the new year, if only because I have ambitions to drive me and feasible means of achieving some of them and the prospect of being in work again is seemingly more apparent – two employers have expressed great interest in me and once the world of work is back in order then they will hurry to usher me in and get me sorted out as either their new team player or latest addition to the rejection bin.

I have no right to complain, I spent Christmas in a warm home with turkey on my plate, no job to tear me away from my family and there was no actual family tragedy today, just muttered words and a general consensus of “Let’s do this for as long as it is bearable”, with some of us giving up an hour in and some sticking through to dinner before departing. Families do that I suppose, the Christmas card image of a family gathered and united in love is appealing but fairly untrue, especially in homes on the breadline like mine. Ultimately, you must think me a terrible whine, to speak of how poor I find myself and woe is me but you are not obliged to read on, this is merely a personal filling in and as it stands, this is the truth of it – a modest Christmas with a family divided and I am little more than a misery.

I do not know what 2016 will bring. I hope it will be the year that changes everything and intend to work hard to make it so and yet, I have said that much for each year of my life since I left school and here I am. On the upside, with a gym contract I’m obliged to for twelve months, at £9.99 a month, I can at least be depressed and fucking jacked up like a beefcake, I’m too much of a tight git with money to let the best part of £10 vanish from my bank account each month and not turn up at the gym – I’m lazy enough, I don’t intend to charge myself £10 a month to be so.

Still, Christmas is a time to be thankful so let me end on the lighter note as to what I am thankful for. I am thankful to my family for providing me a home and for the efforts they have made for me all year round, to my Dad for being willing to invest in me and help me take my first steps towards revolutionising my work by buying me the equipment. I am thankful to my friends for their steadfast loyalty, especially at this time and whilst the run-up to Christmas would provide many of them valid reason to make less effort, some have made more effort than ever to check that I am okay and provide me with some reason to smile or laugh. Lastly, let me give thanks to the unexpected friends I have found this year, old grudges washed away and casual acquaintances have made new strides to know me better, it is always something that can make me smile.

Merry Christmas everyone, I will provide a 2015 retrospective later this year and in it, I will look back on my year and my plans for 2016, for those who take interest in such matters