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.

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The Letter ‘T’

Disturbingly, a petition online of about 600 signatures has been circled around the internet by gay men and women calling for the T in LGBT to be erased from all media concerning them, might not sound like much but in the same year we’ve had Germaine Greer say trans women are just demented cockless men, announcements of a thriller action movie using gender reassignment as a gimmick and the movie Stonewall turned a black trans character into a white gay character. Basically then, this petition is summing up the increasingly dark treatment we as a species are giving the trans community – urging them to disappear.

Straight off the bat, let’s make it clear that even within feminism and LGBT movements there are poisonous individuals, spoiler alert, defending equal marriage rights doesn’t exempt one from being a total asshat. Germaine Greer, case in point, equated being trans as having ear extensions and fur added to your body and calling yourself a dog – because you know, one of those experiences is a harrowing journey of self-exploration and the other is a hilariously misguided use of medical resources, please don’t make me point out which is which. There is apparently no malice intended by this petition, it isn’t saying they want the trans community to be brutally killed off but apparently these individuals feel that the T in LGBT is what is holding them back from achieving fair treatment. Funny, I remember the issue being a modern society objecting to the concept of love being love because of a book written two-thousand years ago but whaddaya know, it was those darn transitioning twatmonkeys holding back the human race, go figure.

So what other criticisms do we have of the trans community here? Oh, this old gem, the “I can pretend to be a trans woman and still be a straight cis male and thus get free looks at boobs!”. I have many qualms with this transphobic trope – one being there are zero recorded incidents of that happening and whilst that doesn’t mean it has never happened, it certainly doesn’t happen as often as other invasions of privacy such as men molesting women on trains or inappropriate same-gender interaction in a changing room (I’ve been in a changing room and had other men comment on my underwear/penis, it is not just banter, it is fucking terrifying and weird and unless I invite you to look at my dick, do not discuss it). Secondly, it’s pretty fucking noticeable when someone is sexually aroused in a changing room, if this is someone’s master plan to watch women undress, please take this person and introduce them to porn, I beg of you, it will make their life so much easier. Trans people want to use the changing room or toilet they ask to use because that is what feels right to them, they aren’t there for a cheeky nose around in the same sense you aren’t. If you see someone wanting to use a different changing room and your first response is “Ohhhh so you can stare at other people getting changed?” then what does that say about you? Is that what you’d do? Heck, stick me in a women’s changing room, I’d just get changed, I’m waaaaaaaaay too self-conscious to spend my time oggling (That and y’know, I fucking respect their right to not be stared at)

The petitioners fear a promotion of trans equality alongside gay equality gives them a bad name, like they had an easy ride to begin with, the only difference between your struggles is one group got called sinners and abominations and then became popular and trendy on television in bit parts of stereotyped characters, the other got all that plus being used as a comedic trope and being confused with drag queens and psychotic perverts by even the people supposedly looking out for them. Apparently teaching children as young as four its okay to be trans will encourage them to be trans is another issue, to which I say “Why is that an issue?” and also “Kids experiment, that’s part of growing up, they will decide who they are when they’re done undressing their dolls and poking parts of the anatomy curiously”. Seriously, we need to get over this idea that this stuff is too complex for children when kids are actually pretty on the ball, why do we treat our children like impressionable morons? If your child is going to do something dumb, that is your problem, not the media’s, parent your goddamn child but love that child whatever they want to be – be that straight, gay, asexual, pansexual, genderqueer, gender re-assignment surgery – and if they ask a question, answer it, because if you don’t then it will eat away at your child and confuse them for years on end until they get the wrong idea from a film or a reddit post or whatever. All children experiment with their gender and sexual identity in some way, we have to allow for that and realise they will decide what is right in their own time and we have to show them love and support, not shame and resentment. I had ‘girly’ interests at different stages in life – Powerpuff Girls, Sabrina the Teenage Witch, some of my imaginary roles I played were female – I’m ‘fine’, I’m not a deviant, the same is true of so many others, I merely use myself because I know myself best for an example but experimentation leads to the discovery of a true inner identity, without that chance to learn we repress ourselves and THAT creates deviants.

Lastly, tieing in with Stonewall, the petitioners felt the film appropriated their culture and tried to pander to trans audiences by including trans characters arbitrarily, which is odd because y’know, I’m fairly sure trans people were there (Miss Major-Griffin Gracy ringing bells anyone? Google it). The film is a terrible whitewashing of an event at which only a third of the people there were gay/lesbian white folk, the rest were drag queens, genderqueer, trans and a veritable assortment of ethnic origins, Stonewall was the definitive bar for that community, it was not just a gay bar but a secret sanctuary for anyone who didn’t fit the straight-white guideline. The film, if anything, did too much to make it white and gay, to make a friendlier and less diverse portrayal of the events, possibly for fear of being too far out there to attract an audience or get a positive response in the media. To want less trans people and people of colour in the film and in the media portrayal of the community in general suggests a fundamental lack of understanding of what the community is – a genderfluid asexual black woman deserves as much media attention as a cisgender gay man because both of those people are being denied fair treatment in some sense or another, both are called abominations and both of them, as if this needed pointing out, are human beings.

Division within the LGBT+ community only serves to harm those within it and whilst there are some issues in which you can’t lump the L,G,B and T in the same discussion (For starters, T isn’t a sexual orientation, it’s a gender identity) the problems faced are shared and are best faced united. I’m certain that the overwhelming majority of the community won’t buckle to this transphobic way of thinking but if you have, I urge you to take up your beef with someone else because it is not the fight for trans equality you need to be worried about ruining your life and your chances of being respected by your peers – it is the crackpot zealots in government jobs saying you cause floods and plagues, it is the misconceptions that AIDS was the fault of people like you, it is the educational system that refuses to teach children why you are not a freak – those are the problems the LGBT+ movement have to face and they must face them together because a house divided is a house that falls! Trans people are human, just like you and they deserve to be fought for, why are you exempt from that fight?

A Problem In Pink

October is a month filled with many different things isn’t it? Halloween comes to mind first but let’s not forget it is also Stoptober for those trying to quit smoking and is the designated Breast Cancer Awareness month. Pinktober… yes not a very clever name, is supposed to be a month in which efforts are made to raise awareness about those diagnosed with breast cancer, though there are some issues I have with the whole thing. I never take too kindly to campaigns solely based in raising awareness, chances are we’re aware of what they’re campaigning about (except maybe things like the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge raising awareness of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, something I’m sure wasn’t much in the public mind beforehand). So what’s wrong with Pinktober if you ask me? Well, where to begin?

The Pink Ribbon movement was originally a feminist ordeal to get the discussion of breast cancer out in the open because whilst breast cancer has been around for a long time, it hasn’t always been an acceptable subject of conversation. Ridiculous to think of it like that now but once upon a time, a time so recent that your parents or grandparents might remember it, you had to keep hush-hush if you had it, talking about your breasts in any context was vulgar, even if it was to tell people you have a life-changing affliction that affected said breasts. However, what started as a noble goal to make a taboo subject something the world had to pay attention to is now more of a money-making scam laden with sexism, commercialism and a small-minded attitude of focus upon breasts over cancer or indeed, the victims they’re supposed to be helping out. In fact, there’s even a term for this corruption, pink-washing.

Pink-washing, in this instance, refers to the sleazy efforts of corporations trying to cash in on a charity by slapping said charity’s label on a product they sell and assuring us a percentage of their profits goes to the charity they claim to represent. The pink ribbon is the most exploited of these symbols, having been stuck on even things such as beer bottles. Whilst many companies are happy to just give some spare change away and think themselves in the right, this easy way out fails to educate anyone on anything and some of these percentages and donations are so minimal they can’t be doing it for anything beyond good publicity. Of course, if you point this out to people that buying all the ribbons in the world doesn’t promote any awareness whatsoever and that pink shirts and pink pop bottles aren’t the answer, you get called out as a monster, strange though it seems. A campaign to discuss a serious health condition and the knock-on effect it has on the lives of those with it has been reduced to a garish pink mess of boob jokes and self-righteous parties. If you buy pink, you’re helping right? Well, no, you know no better so you’re not more aware and when these pink ribbons can be found attached to products that can CAUSE CANCER, it’s a real kick in the shins for those fighting for the cause. After all, you don’t see Oxfam branded caviar or British Heart Foundation branded cigarettes.

The media has dumbed down something as complex as the development of cancer into a popular viral branding scheme, dressed it up in pink and made it into a sexist mess? How is it sexist you ask? Free the ta-tas. Yeah, a breast cancer awareness campaign focused solely on breasts, on how wonderful and amazing boobs are. Forget the woman behind them, she’s dying, so what? Nah, save those perky pink orbs! A woman is more than a pair of breasts! Let’s not forget that men can get breast cancer, do we free his ta-tas too? I’m all for funny and interesting ways to get people to care but efforts lately have been warped into focusing on a sole part of a woman’s anatomy and forgetting about the men in the same boat, the women being oggled and the families who have to adapt or possibly even grieve. A study by Bright Pink showed two thirds of women they interviewed would do more to change their lifestyle if it prevented breast cancer but only about half of those women knew where to start making those changes. The Pink Ribbon stuff has been around for as long as I can remember but I’ll admit to a limited knowledge of breast cancer and I’ll bet most of you reading couldn’t outline how to get checked, how to prevent it happening and what happens if you do get breast cancer. One in eight women will get breast cancer in their lifetime but only 10% of women know what to do to correctly estimate their risk of developing it… put simply, we know what breast cancer is, we as a society just know jack shit about it.

There is a certain kind of ignorance that surrounds this cause, a kind that I’m sure will have some who read this thinking I just don’t care and I’m calling this entire thing a worthless con, I’m not. However, when you reject the people your cause represents and turn a noble cause into a capitalist nightmare to feel like you’re the patron saint of all things good and righteous just because you wear a ribbon and attend a cake sale, you fall out of touch with the spirit of charity and you overlook the importance of your cause. I understand it’s difficult to get actual factual information circling in the public psyche but it is not impossible and sadly painting the town pink and calling it an effort to raise awareness isn’t the way to do it. We’re all aware, who really hasn’t heard of breast cancer these days? The people are AWARE of it, now it’s time to educate them on the reality of it, on the people it changes and what needs to be done. As it stands, this campaign has become something ignorant, something corrupt and dare I say it for the irony… something rather cancerous.

Real Resolutions

Trigger Warnings – Some strong language

Hello everyone, how are we all getting on with the resolutions? Anyone cracked and called it quits yet? I’ve not managed to jog today but I have been walking a lot back and forth between places, that surely counts for something right? Even if only to burn off the amount of food I ate. Anyway, if you have made a resolution and you’re struggling, do stick with it, half of the battle with most of these things is sheer willpower, perceive and achieve! If you’re really struggling and you’re not getting anywhere, it is still pretty early into the year, don’t worry too much, you won’t notice a difference for a few more weeks yet but maybe you’ve given yourself an unrealistic goal? Was your goal to quit something cold turkey perhaps? Or really get into something you’re not actually into, like jogging… erhem… Anyway, just in case you’re stuck for some goals or you want some better ones to strive towards, here are my suggestions based around things that I’ve heard, seen and are, you know, just good goals to have. Bear in mind, these are just ideas, run with them, shrug them off, whatever, just don’t be shitty alright?

1. Say ‘Yes’ to more

A lot of people often tell me I’m too selfless, that I give away my time to anyone as if I were immortal but if karma’s a real thing, maybe I’ll get a lot out of my selfless time donations. I’d encourage my readers to just go along with the ride a little more often – take up on an invite, volunteer somewhere, do a friend a favour even if it’s a pain – obviously use your common sense,  don’t say yes to a poison taster session or joining your particularly stupid friends in lying naked on train tracks but y’know, the little things in life, it doesn’t cost you much to just go along with it. I find it can also come with unexpected benefits, usually free food and drink as a thank you but I’ve sometimes earned money or made friends this way.

2. Do something to make you feel more positive about yourself

I’m all for loving the skin you’re in but people who tell you to never diet or never gain weight or never dye your hair misunderstand the point, you can make a change to be comfortable, just be sure it’s a healthy one. Take me for example, I’m not by the common definition ‘fat’, but I’m doing my best to just lose a few pounds from my belly and my cheeks, why not do the same? If you need a new haircut, a tougher diet, a few more piercings in order to look in the mirror and admire the reflection, go for it. Make 2015 the year you woke up to smile back at that face staring at you in the bathroom mirror, not the usual “Ugh” noise that I tend to make.

3. Learn where you stand

You know I find people mistake arguing less for being mature, for rising above, but there’s a difference between arguing and bickering. Rise above petty arguments over where you sit or who gets the last custard cream, sure, but when it comes to your stance on politics, on gay marriage, on the representation of minorities in media, you’re not rising above when you say “I don’t bother with these things”, you’re just invalidating yourself. If you don’t know what your opinion is on contemporary feminism, read up on both sides of the argument and ask yourself if woman are still perceived as at fault for sexually motivated crimes, if woman should be the ones responsible for remembering protection, if women should or shouldn’t have to shave their armpits – it’s immature to squabble and shout but to have something you believe in and to defend that is not childish or obnoxious, it shows commitment and integrity which are very adult traits to have!

4. Record your thoughts

Seriously folks, you have no idea how helpful a blog or a diary can be. Do you ever have those feelings that you just want to let go of in a big burst of verbal rainbows and then afterwards you feel much better? My blog and diary serve that purpose, I funnily enough don’t have a 24/7 therapist to call up at any given moment to tell them that I think the universe is amazing or that our species is doomed but with a diary, you can sorta do just that. Blogging is great too, you can say so much more to people in just one go rather than awkwardly burbling your feelings at them through stuttered “What I mean is…” moments. You can also use it to see how far you’ve come in your year or how you’ve changed and it allows you a lot of room to think and ponder about yourself, which is something we should all indulge in now and then

5. Challenge those thoughts

Part of self-discovery is contradicting yourself, if you’ve never contradicted yourself, you’ve never grown. Ever had that moment where you say something and then someone cuts you down by saying “But wait a minute, didn’t you once say…?”. Now, that’s a humiliating moment, sure, but once you get past that think carefully about the point they raised and the point you were trying to make – why don’t they fit together? Which do you truly believe? I used to think things like “Women are free to vote and work whatever they job they want sure, but y’know, they’re still delicate creatures, they probably don’t work in trades like mechanics because that’s not something women generally do”. Now, forgive me, younger me, not quite worldly-wise yet but I had to challenge my thoughts – what made me think a girl doesn’t want to be a mechanic? Why did I assume such a reason as her being too delicate to fix a car? I now realise gender and career aren’t linked and y’know, I’ve met many women who know more about cars than I do in the same way I’ve met men who know more about interior decorating and hair care than some women, the gender binary is a crock of nonsense in the grand scheme of things, choose to adhere to it if you will, I’m very typical male, I don’t ever wear mascara or don a dress but that’s my conscious choice, I’m sure that as I am now, if I wanted to wear a mini skirt and tights, I’d fucking do it so always challenge yourself to grow and change

6. Lastly, try to see things from a perspective you can’t easily empathise with

I’m not here to toot my own trumpet, I assure you, but I pride myself on fighting alongside groups I really have no reason to need to defend other than human decency. Gay rights, women’s rights, minorities in media – none of those have any effect on me so why should I care right? Well, every ally helps, I hate to be the kind of ally shouting from the rooftops “Admire me because I give a shit about people that aren’t exactly like me” but we always need to look to other people as potential allies but as allies, we need to look to ourselves to see who we can really help. I mean, it’s nice that you defend your gay friend from some extreme religious nutcase but you and your friend might be otherwise well-off white folk, what about people who are killed or forced into corrective therapy? You might have a black friend, that’s great, but what about friends from other minorities that are still oppressed and stereotyped? Reach out, educate yourself on the plights of people from so far away, you might not know how to point to where they live on a map, understand their world and fight for fairness for all mankind, not just your group of buddies.

I guess I’m ultimately just trying to say to people that this year, think more, that’s a great resolution, think more about others and think more about yourself, work as a community to make the world a better place. Start small, spare some change, look after a pet, let someone ahead of you in a line but try to think what you can give to the world, not what you can take. A good person strives for a good world to live in because the world really needs a lot more empathy in it if we’re ever going to stop shooting at each other and start talking. That’s just a thought anyway, do what you will, you could always make your resolution something completely different but make it something you can imagine achieving realistically

Thanks for reading, hope I gave you some good food for thought there. If you’re hungry for more, look around or click the link below to find me on Facebook where you’ll get information on the latest blog posts and such. If you’re a generous kinda person and want to share a platter of posts, hit the share button, show your friends that resolutions aren’t all about less nail-biting or more fruit-eating, it can be much more rewarding if you want it to be!

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Man And His Gadgets

Trigger Warnings – None.

I do so hope the laptop is fixed soon, or replaced or anything, this is not looking to be a practical long term solution using my phone. I’m not the biggest fan of phones on the whole, I use them more as a convenient means of quick communication or to have the odd conversation but the current situation has made me come to see my phone as an internet browser, a work space, a games console, a media player, all those other things people regularly use their phone as that I didn’t. I always get phones with these features, just in case are three words I live by, but only recently have I taken the time to explore my phone and its capabilities. We are all far too dependent on technology aren’t we? I sure am anyway, being without a laptop has deprived me of my work, my main research tool and a form of entertainment. I can’t help but feel a little pathetic about that really but this is so deeply ingrained in our society now that people lose their temper when their Wi-Fi goes down for half an hour. Mad world.

The future of technology will no doubt change the future of education and of priorities in learning. I hold the firm belief that in time it will not be data retention that is a key skill in school but data research, learning how to find accurate information, how to critically understand it and use it, not just learning facts and figures to regurgitate in exam conditions. I’ve nothing against such a future, despite thriving in a classroom environment as a kid I can still see our present system is fundamentally flawed, it just poses questions as to the changing face of intellectual pursuits and the division between our own genius and that of our technology. Even now, if computers world wide all went dead, permanently, how would we function?

I’m tech savvy, I think, I was certainly a computer whiz back in the era of Windows XP, I could get my head round that no trouble, but I don’t keep pace and don’t often care. Tablet computer, yet to find myself wanting one that badly except to do scenes from Star Trek. I’ve never used one though so maybe I don’t know what I’m missing. I’d say I sound like a real old man but apparently tablets are more popular with the older crowd anyway. Still, we must keep developing, we must always make progress for the good of humanity and its home planet, knowledge is a fine thing to pursue and will provide you a fulfilling life long quest, certainly does for me anyway.

Anyway, it’s nice to switch things off hey? Spend honest time with other people and that’s coming from a moody eccentric introvert, even I can admit it is nice to go outside. I used to hide away in my room all the time growing up, avoided everyone. I do still have those moments and after enough socialising or if too many people talk at me at once, I retreat into myself and some form of gadget. Life is always a balancing act is it not? We just need to be analytical of ourselves and see which side we are teetering towards and make informed decisions from there.

The Other Cause Of The Day

Trigger Warnings – None

Hello internet, I’ll begin by telling you I had great fun last night with some great people and although not everyone could make it, everyone who did had a blast and was splendid company and it reminded me that no matter how bad things get, I’m surrounded by some truly brilliant characters. Anyway, if you’re British you’re probably well aware that today is Children In Need day. I’m not doing an article on that, I’m sorry, my say on the matter is rather unnecessary with the celebrity phone-in donation mega events and all the crazy costume wearing fundraisers in every nook and cranny but I am here to represent something, something that is being overlooked today in favour of yellow teddy bears and spotted handkerchiefs

Today is World Diabetes Day, perhaps my American or European audience was aware but the British, probably not so much, it’s a shame two big days coincided and to coincide with Children In Need is always rubbish, you get overlooked (I should know, my birthday has done so on several occasions when I was a kid so on my birthday everyone was more wrapped up in cakes and fun runs than giving me any attention and hey I was a kid, I wanted attention)

So what can I do to represent my cause? Well, if you live in the UK, look up Diabetes UK, that’s a good place to start and it tells you what you can do to make a difference and I know I’m not doing much, I only hear of these things ON the day, same with Asexuality Week and OCD Awareness Week and so on and then I want to do something, partly because I then have guaranteed readers, mostly because I do genuinely give a shit.

Diabetes, like a lot of illnesses, is misunderstood, it is not as simple as being the end result of eating like a pig all your life and then being very very ill as payback. Diabetes comes in two types and you can usually either be born with it or be diagnosed later in life and the best way to remember the types is Type 1 is a lack of insulin for the cells (A padlock with no key) and Type 2 is the body not responding to the insulin in the body (A padlock with no keyhole). Basic but it’s a starting point to build on. The condition is lifelong and affects someone with it in pretty much everything they do, they must be much more conscious of what they eat and do than those without. Diabetes is no rare thing, we all know it exists and last year it was predicted around 382 million people worldwide are diabetic, 90% being Type 2

So what’s Type 1 and Type 2? Type 1 is the one you are born with, it is your own body destroying insulin before it can help you digest so the resulting build up of glucose (sugar) becomes damaging and this leads to a dependence on external-insulin. Type 2 is a failure to produce enough insulin or the body not responding to it, it’s often associated with obesity and is normally treated through medication

Being a diabetic obviously affects your lifestyle choices and it’s no laughing matter, we all like to make a joke about it, what with the Diabetus meme being a fad a while ago but in truth it’s not fun to live with, from what I’ve heard. I’m not trying to be an overly politically correct stick in the mud but just remember that it’s a serious plight for those who live with it, like any illness or condition. The recommended plan of action for diabetics is to avoid foods high in sugar and salt, eat less fatty junk, snack more on fruit and get at least two hours of moderate physical exercise a week, which in all fairness is probably a good idea for anyone so kudos to those who manage, I’d struggle and I technically don’t even need to, I’m not technically overweight

Still, any setback is something to overcome so don’t go babying the diabetics, they obviously still function well in society and go on to achieve great things in their own lives, they’re nothing less for a bit of an insulin issue. I’m sorry to rain on the Children in Need parade of joy and funny antics to save starving orphans, support that by all means, but this is an issue that affects someone close to me so I’m writing this for them and for you all. Once again, it’s about educating yourselves, don’t assume you know something just because you hear the word tossed around, do a little read around, talk to people, the pursuit of knowledge is one of the best bits of being alive!

Ignorance and Inspiration

Trigger Warnings – Whilst outdated, this article contains opinions that may be deemed offensive to certain people, though they only serve as examples. Mentions of sexual assault and homophobic attitudes

Hello everyone. So, at the start of the week I did an article for Asexual Awareness week and I did a lot to teach people about the subject but I realise it is one of those topics that if it doesn’t directly affect you, you’re not likely to know about it and probably don’t even consider it, perhaps some of the ignorance in this world is simply a result of such. Ignorance, if not worked upon, is not exactly a brilliant trait for one to possess but you can’t shame someone for ignorance, only if they are not willing to learn more and so to help give you some perspective, I want to give you some insight as to the ignorant views I myself once held in my younger days

I think angsty is probably a great word to describe my younger self, maybe more towards raging asshole actually. A romantic would view me as the lone rogue, dressed all in black and standing apart from the crowd without a peer or indeed a care in my heart and I am not ashamed to admit I was a selfish and melodramatic young teen. However, for my academic smarts and brute strength in a fight, I was ignorant of people, I knew nothing of their struggles and pains, of their ways of life, I knew only the path I stared down and thought nothing of the world around me. I wasn’t always a man who promoted equality and justice, I thought justice meant revenge and here are some of the ignorant things I once thought

1. Being gay is okay (Just don’t be gay with me!)

A common one I hear from a lot of lads, saying “He can bum who he wants but if he tries touching me up, I’ll kick his head in”. This is a presumptuous statement, it assumes that by default you are attractive to gay men. Is every woman in the world attracted to you sir? No, they’re not, same applies to men. I don’t know why I thought this, it was before I had met anyone of the LGBT community (excluding not knowing my brother was in the closet, I suspected but never thought much of it at the time and I barely knew my eldest sister at the time who is a lesbian). I believe this is more a comment of fear and misunderstanding, some men view homosexuality as an infringement on their masculinity, as if they’ll be treated by gay men the same way they treat women. I would urge people of this philosophy to calm down, in all my life I can count the amount of gay men that have hit on me on one hand and it’s not a difficult situation to diffuse and heck, I feel flattered to be truthful, especially as not one of those men has ever presumed me to be gay, at most bisexual. You need only be courteous and decline politely, the way women tend to decline you lads (Well, nice women, let them down how you’d like to be let down)

2. Dressing provocatively is asking to be assaulted

Again, this is a common argument I hear, the line being “Well when you’re dressed like that, what do you expect?”. Newsflash, you don’t dress for other people, you dress for yourself and to be honest, if a man walks down a street with his chest on show then he isn’t checking every corner for an attacker, why should a woman have to? A woman should not have to dress with the views of society in mind, simply her own tastes – wear that skimpy top if you really want, you like it, you wear it and if, heaven forbid, you are a victim of assault then it was not your fault for your dress sense because men as a rule should have self-control to not lose themselves to a lustful frenzy just because they saw a bit too much cleavage for one day. I can manage it and I’m a man with a knack for womanising and a history of self-control issues but not once have I ever even considered attacking a woman for dressing provocatively, heck I’m too modest to even oggle

3. The friend zone

Yes, I believed in the friend zone once upon a time, being the non-threatening guy pal to a lot of attractive women who knew I wouldn’t step over the boundaries when they were laid down. I resented it and I always grappled with this conflict in myself as to why these girls weren’t falling for me when all I ever did was do everything they wanted from a guy. Well, I feel this needs an article in itself and I’ll admit I only got over this view rather recently after some soul-searching but the truth is you shouldn’t validate your efforts as a friend by the end-goal of sex or a romantic relationship, the platonic love is no less significant. I know it sucks that she’ll never see you as her boyfriend and that you might never have what you wanted but if you love this person, love them enough to let them pursue what they truly dream of, don’t try to force your dreams upon them because it will destroy you inside as they resist those dreams until it makes you burn inside just to look at them

Those are just three for now, it was actually rather hard to think these up surprisingly but yeah, I haven’t always been uber-liberal love-and-acceptance, I used to be bitter and self-entitled to my personal dreams in life, as if what I wanted meant more and the issues of others fell upon their own shoulders, nothing more. I thought everyone was responsible for their own bad hands in life and maybe that’s why it cut me up for so long with everything that happened to me in life, I accepted the blame for every bad thing that happened in my life. The point of this article is to encourage people not to just despise those who are misinformed but educate them, nurture them and make them an ally as was done with me. I learnt about these things because they affected friends – I had relatives in the LGBT community and made friends there too, I had friends who dressed in rather alluring attire and felt sick to the gut at the thought of something happening to them, I did not want to ruin my friendships by resenting people for not reciprocating my desires. We all change as we learn about the world, a friend of mine recently admitted to me in confidence that they realised they were a misogynist and weren’t fully comfortable with that so rather than bite their head off, I tried to understand the roots of these views and I hope to help this friend of mine find a new outlook on the female gender over time

My friends upon the left-wing, we face a difficult battle with gender equality, gay marriage, the understanding and acceptance of the full sexual spectrum, better education on mental health and sexual education and even those of non-mainstream religions so let us not see every white hetero male as a villain, let us befriend them and teach them what we know and be taught in return. Ignorance is the enemy of humanity, we must unite as one and slay it