Womens March – Equality Needs to be a Reality

A Personal Essay on Feminism

On Friday, the World as we know it changed forever. If you follow me on Twitter you will have seen that over the last 48 hours I have been retweeting much more that I usually do. I tried to reign it in but I had so many feelings and I wasn’t managing to process them. So sharing other’s reactions was my way of showing support, solidarity, etc. Friday I was all about the inauguration, today was all about the Womens March. I have never felt more hope or pride than I did today seeing so many images from all over the World of women standing together and saying, “No, this is not okay. We are equal, and we will be treated as such.”

I don’t know if it will make a difference. After all, we have hundreds of years of societal, cultural and religious conditioning to combat. But it is a start. It is setting something in motion. Judging from the social media reactions of the patriarchy it is terrifying them. Maybe they are getting a glimpse into what OUR lives have been. I realised today that this is what the patriarchy are truly afraid of, that if they allow us our equality we will begin to treat them the way they have treated us for centuries.

It is 2017 we should not still be having this conversation but we are. We are still prisoners because of the idea some one came up with long ago that men are somehow inherently superior purely because they are men. Because of an accident of birth they are somehow stronger, smarter, better than we are. But I’ve never cried and threatened murder because some stranger (of the opposite sex) on the internet dared to have an opinion about a video game that I disagreed with.

IT HAS TO STOP. THE TIME HAS COME.

We need to speak out. We need to fight. We need to start holding the policy makers accountable. We need to be united. Our differences don’t matter. We need to stand together. We need to stop tearing each other down. We are women. We need to support each other, to support ALL women. The march today has shown no matter where we are in the World we all believe that we should be treated equally.

The Womens March

This morning some bloke decided to ask why “women” in England were protesting. What did we think it would achieve. Do we think America’s Government care what women in other countries think of them. I believe his exact words were:

“Utter pathetic! What the hell has the US president got to do with Leeds. #MakeAmericaGreatAgain #Brexit”

Delightful, right?

A very lovely lady replied explaining that it wasn’t just about the USA it was about women’s equality, she asked the original tweeter if he’d heard the way Trump speaks about women. His response is somewhat typical of the kind of men who live in denial of rape culture, and the reality of what women deal with on a daily basis.

womens march

Yes, he really does say “People choose to take offence, others don’t give offence. If something offends you that’s your problem.”  He boils the entire womens march principle down to us being offended. You can see my response in the photo but just in case you can’t what I point out is that the way Trump talks about women doesn’t offend me it terrifies me.

The way Trump talks about women is not only disrespectful it is a symptom of the patriarchy. He is normalising the belief some men have that women are just there for their gratification. That men’s sexual pleasure is more important than women’s autonomy. They feel justified in policing our bodies. They can do what they want with them but heaven forbid we use them ourselves. Let us not forget that the man who is now the President of the United States once said:

“I did try and fuck her. She was married. I moved on her like a bitch, but I couldn’t get there. And she was married. Then all of a sudden I see her, she’s now got the big phony tits and everything. She’s totally changed her look. I’ve gotta use some Tic Tacs, just in case I start kissing her. You know I’m automatically attracted to beautiful — I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star they let you do it. You can do anything… Grab them by the pussy. You can do anything.”

This is not okay. This is NOT normal, and it should NEVER be treated as if it is. We are NOT chattel, we never were. Someone just decided to treat us that way because it was the only way to exert some form of control.

It is time to say no more. We will not be under your control any longer. We will speak up. We will speak out. We will use our words, our voices, and we will make things different. The womens march is only the start. You will see how far we can go.

 

We are the creatives, the writers, the artists, the musicians…..we are the revolution.

Puzzle Pieces – Wicked Wednesday Personal Post

Wicked Wednesday

Welcome to my 29th post for Rebel’s Notes‘ Wicked Wednesday, Puzzle Pieces. You don’t have to use the prompt but I like the inspiration, and challenge. The prompt for this week was:

Puzzle pieces

Life is like a bunch of puzzle pieces that we are constantly trying to fit together to make the perfect puzzle.

Come share your sexy stories…

Image source

Puzzle Pieces

I’ve suffered from clinical depression and anxiety since I was 15.  My first incident only really lasted a few weeks, I didn’t need medication, just had some time off school to help me ‘get better’. My next episode was when I was 26, it was a pretty bad one.  It was mostly caused by a highly stressful job where nothing you did was appreciated and the HR department were constantly changing the rules on hours, and trying to move you around teams and departments. I ended up having a nervous breakdown. My GP signed me off, prescribed me some medication, and sent me to see a counsellor.  The time between those episodes (15-26 years) I felt like I developed as a person; I knew who I was, my character, what I liked, etc. The depression and anxiety stole those things from me, it turned me into a person I didn’t recognize.

I felt like I had all these pieces of my personality but I didn’t know how they fit together any more. Quite often they didn’t feel like they did. They were random dots of me but spread out all over, like puzzle pieces scattered over a table. But before I could fix myself I needed to find the corners, to “look for the blue bits” (quote from Man Up film). Each time I thought I’d found one something would happen and it would drift away. Then a few months ago things came to a head in an unexpected way. Something I thought was good turned out to actually be toxic, after I got over the shock I found out a few new things about myself. And in finding those things I found the corners, I pieced together the edges. The puzzle pieces started slotting into place.

I found my way back to my spiritual beliefs. When my depression and anxiety got really bad I lost my way, drifted away from the path. Even though when asked I would still say I followed an earth based religion I’d stopped practising. I’d packed most of my stuff away, sold all my books. And now I’m coming out of the depression again, I feel more like the old me, the me I was when I was early 20s full of curiosity, and confidence, I knew who I was and what I believed. I’m starting to feel like that again.

Funnily enough as that feeling started returning I found the box with all my things in. I got out my tarot cards, rune stones, and altar totems, and they felt comfortable in my hands. Around the same time a few people came into my life who were also ‘involved’ in Earth based religions. It’s strange how the universe moves things together. 🙂
I’m feeling so good at the moment. I’m down to smallest dose of my antidepressants once every three days, hopefully should be off them completely soon. It’s taken a long time but I feel like I’m finally crawling out of a deep dark hole. I know I’ll still have bad days, and maybe in the future the black dog will come back but right now I feel like I’m ‘winning the battle’. ☺

 

 

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Weight – My Wicked Wednesday Entry

Wicked Wednesday

Welcome to my 27th post for Rebel’s Notes‘ Wicked Wednesday, Weight. You don’t have to use the prompt but I like the inspiration, and challenge. The prompt for this week was:

weightWeight

What? Weight? Really? This is a Wicked Wednesday prompt?

Yes. It is.

Whether you use this prompt to share a personal story or experience, or whether you use it for erotic fiction is all up to you.

Weight

I thought about the different ways I could approach this; the different meanings for the prompt.

When I was still a kid, my dad would tell his friends that I carried the weight of the world. Other adults were less polite; I was over sensitive when I cried at the news, soft-hearted because I couldn’t watch those animal rescue shows on TV, and I needed to toughen up when instead of punching a bully (I knew how to hit and was scared I’d hurt her) I just cried and walked away. I still do this but I know now it is a recognised mental health condition, and has a name. It’s hypersensitivity. I’ve mentioned it before because it also means I tend to take little things to heart. However, what I want to talk about is the ‘elephant in the room’; my weight.

I am ‘over-weight’, actually according to the chart at my doctors I am morbidly obese. However, after a fascinating chat with the nurse, that culminated in us using the baby scales to weigh each of my tits, we decided to ignore the chart.  Which was what I intended to do any way. Would I like to lose some of the excess fat I am carrying? Yes, actually I would but that has nothing to do with the weight itself. It’s to do with me wanting to be able to walk up hills, and run for a bus without going luminous red, and having people look at me in concern. It’s to do with getting fitter. I may increase my fitness and not lose any weight, it happens. And if that’s what happens, I’m good with it. As long as my stamina, health, and general fitness improve I’ll be happy.

Body Confidence

Recently, I had a conversation with another shopper in Boux Avenue about how pleased I’d been to find they did knickers up to my size (18). I hadn’t bothered to look before because I just assumed that type of underwear shop wouldn’t sell ‘bigger’ sizes. She told me she used to be much heavier, and she wished she’d had the options then.

I asked her about losing weight (as you do), and she proudly told me she’d lost 8 stone. I congratulated her, explained I wanted to lose a bit myself, and she comes out with “So you look good in your underwear?”
I was a bit taken aback. I just sort of looked at her for a moment, and then replied, “I already look good in my underwear. I just want to be fitter.”
She stared at me for a minute, and then smiled, “I wish I had that confidence now, never mind when I was bigger.”
I really didn’t know how to respond so I just murmured a thank you, smiled and went off to buy the scraps of lace I was clutching.

I don’t think of myself as being particularly confident when it comes to my body. I see the flaws, the things I’d like to be different, the bits I wish wobbled less but over the last two years there has been a change. Since that first time I shared a naked photo of me online, I have slowly rebuilt my self-esteem to a point where I feel like it’s at a normal level. I’m not drop dead gorgeous but I am cute; I have really great tits, and despite the size my arse is pretty…….lifted. It looks good in fitted jeans.

Perceptions

weight weight

What I think of me matters more than what anyone else thinks. However, I know I wouldn’t have gotten here without the people who told me they thought I looked great. Compliments used to make me feel awkward, I didn’t believe them so didn’t know how to respond. I though people were just being nice but over time it got easier to believe them.

The more people who told me, the easier it got. Now I can put something on and think “this looks good.” I don’t share as many photos because I don’t necessarily need the validation the I used to need. If i share a photo it’s because I’m feeling extra good about how I look and I want to share that. If it gets likes, and comments that’s great, if it doesn’t that’s fine too.

Summary

My weight is just a number. It doesn’t define me in any way. It doesn’t say how fit I am, how funny, how smart. It’s just a number with no bearing on who I am as a person. Losing weight won’t change the parts of me that are me; I’ll still write the same way, dress the same way,  love books, cry at sad movies, laugh at the unintentional smuttiness in a statement, have purple hair, eyes that sparkle when I’m really happy, and a cheeky grin.

No matter what my weight I’ll still be me.

 

 

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Living in Fear – An Essay on Male Entitlement

An Essay on Male Entitlement

This post was prompted by the fact that in the last week I have seen statuses posted on Facebook by two different women both along similar lines but I’m fairly sure every woman who follows me has similar stories to recount. The title came to me because even when a situation makes us mad rather than scared as a general rule I feel all the women I know are to some degree living in fear.

living in fear

Living in Fear

In a week, where a rapist was found unanimously guilty on three different charges but sentenced to just six months jail time because of the impact prison would have on his life. A week where I read this post and nodded along because I too have had sex when I didn’t want to but couldn’t say no.  These Facebook statuses told stories detailing how women are living in fear; how in the normal course of their day to day lives they have been made to feel uncomfortable or unsafe by men who have felt it is their right to yell out obscene comments at any woman who walks by them, men who feel it is totally okay to invade someone else’s personal space, men who think any woman should be grateful to be treated like she is there purely for their entertainment. Men who’s sense of entitlement is so strong it overrides common human decency. Men who are shown by the ‘establishment’ that their potential is worth more than that of the women they violate.

Below is a screen grab from a status update by Cheryl of Sexhibition.

living in fear

 

No is a complete sentence

A few months ago I had this type of situation happen to me twice in a week, and these men seem incapable of understanding the word no. Or maybe they just don’t hear it, no matter how clear you are.

One of these times I’d been out for food with friends, and was in the City Centre at about 9pm waiting for a bus home. I’d walked with my friend and her husband from the pub to my bus stop, then they’d carried on to their bus stop. I had about 20 minutes to wait for the next bus. I’d been there about two minutes when a guy approached me (I was wearing jeans, big stompy boots, a hoody, a hat, and a scarf).
His first comment was “You have pretty hair? You should show it off. Why you hiding it under that hat?” Really not sure how he could know what my hair looked like under the hat.
I turned and glared at him, “Because it’s fucking freezing, and I want to.” I turned back towards the road.
“Where are your friends?” I paused, wondering how he knew I’d been with other people.
“What friends?”
“You were with a guy and girl, I saw you crossing the road with them. I parked my car to come and talk to you.” Alarm bells went off, did he really not know how totally creepy that sounded. My heart was now pounding, that feeling of living in fear set in, and I just wanted him to go away.
He touched my arm, “What’s your name?”
I pulled my arm away, “I’m not telling you my name.”
“Why not? My name is xxxx. Now what’s your’s?”
“I didn’t ask your name, I’m not interested.”
“Where do you live? I live in xxx. Do you live near there?”
“I didn’t want to tell you my name, why on earth would I tell you where I live.”
He actually laughed at me, “I’m only asking the area. Not like I can find your address, and come to your house.” At this point I was starting to panic. There was hardly anyone about, just a few people down the street, and this guy had just laughed about what amounted to stalking.
“I’m not telling you. Look I said I wasn’t interested. I don’t care what your name is, I don’t care where you live. I don’t know you, I’d just like you to go away.”
He smiled, and reached to touch my arm again. “I’m just trying to start a conversation with a pretty girl. My car is over there, I can give you a lift home, we can get to know each other.”
I looked at him in disbelief, “I’m not getting in a car with you. I’m not interested. Please go away.”
He laughed again, “You’re really cute. Want my phone number?”
“No, I didn’t want your name, why would I want your number.”
He smiles, “Maybe we can see each other sometime?”
“No.” I started to turn away from him again but he reached to touch me again.
“Well I might see you here, then I can talk to you.” Maybe it was paranoia but by now I was really freaking out, and that sounded more like a threat than anything else.
“No, and if you do see me, don’t approach me, don’t try to talk to me. I am NOT interested. Now please leave me alone.” I stepped away from him turning my back, while trying to keep an eye on what he was doing.
“Bye pretty girl, I’ll see you around.” He walked away.

My heart was thundering in my ears and I was so anxious I felt sick but I forced myself to watch him get in his car and drive away. About two minutes later a couple arrived at the bus stop, they were reading the timetable, and I couldn’t decided if they were waiting for a bus or just checking times. Living in fear meant I was really desperate though, and I quickly spoke to the woman, briefly explaining what had happened and asking if they would mind waiting with me until my bus came in ten minutes. I think they could tell how panicked I was and they were really lovely about the whole thing. Turned out I was really glad I’d spoken to them because a few minutes later the guy came back, I don’t know what he’d done with his car, or what he would have done if I hadn’t been chatting to the couple but as soon as he approached us I spotted him, and it must have shown on my face because the woman asked if I was okay. I just managed to stutter out that the guy was back, and angled my head in his direction. The woman’s partner stepped round to my other side so he was between me and the guy, and after a few minutes the guy just walked off.

I was terrified. I thought he was going to try and see what bus I got, or that he would try to follow the bus, and see where I got off. It was awful. When I finally got home, I ran round the house checking all the doors and windows were locked, and when my housemates got home I was sitting waiting for them. It took lots of hugs and some herbal tea before I calmed down enough to explain why I’d just crazily asked if they’d noticed anyone hanging around outside. That is living in fear.

The other time I was on a bus. The guy had sat behind me, and then tried to talk to me. I’d ignored him; staring straight ahead with my hood pulled up. But he kept talking, and when I still didn’t answer he leaned closer and tapped my shoulder. I leant away from him still not looking round. At which point he started trying more earnestly to engage me in conversation.
Finally I turned and said, “Look I’ve had a long day, I don’t want to chat. I just want to get home.”
“Okay.” He sat back in his seat for about two minutes and then it started again. But it gets worse…

I stood up to get off the bus, having waited until the last possible minute to ring the bell, he gets up and follows me off. I thought maybe it’s just his stop so I stopped at the bus stop bench and pretended to be looking for something in my bag, thinking he would just keep walking. He stopped, and then tried to speak to me again. Living in fear you plan how you will react but my fight or flight kicked in, and with the bus still standing at the stop I pretty much yell at this guy, “Stop following me, you are making me feel unsafe. I told you I didn’t want to talk to you, I have no interest in talking to you. You are making me really uncomfortable, please leave me alone.”
I could see the bus driver watching us now, as well as a number of passengers. His eyes shifted towards the bus, and without saying anything else he turned and walked away. I had another bus to catch, and set off walking round the corner to the stop, the bus I’d got off passed me as I got to the main road. As I turned the corner I glanced back and the guy was standing by the bus stop watching me. I hurried to the new bus stop, swearing when I realised I had a 20 minute wait for the next bus. There was a pub behind me with people coming out, so I ducked inside. A girl looked up, “Sorry love, we’re just closing.” I walked to the edge of the bar and explained about the guy following me, a voice behind me said “Stay as long as you need, and when you go out I’ll come out with you.” I almost sobbed in relief, stuttering out a thank you.  The girl smiled, “that’s our manager, he’s a really good guy.” I sat down and she brought me a drink. The manager was true to his word, he came out with me, and made sure I got on my bus okay.

living in fear

I was lucky in both those situations, I managed to find other people who I could be around until I felt safe again. But what if I hadn’t. I was also lucky that I didn’t trigger an aggressive response in either of them, but again what if I hadn’t?  The first situation was worse because I was saying no loudly and clearly and the guy was just not getting it. The fact that he’d seen me crossing a road and parked his car so he could follow me is still a terrifying and very creepy thought.

The other thing about these situations that I hate is that in my head I am thinking but what can we do about it? About these men? Because so often if you say something back, if you get angry, you run the risk of antagonising them, and the even greater risk of them becoming violent. Which of course would then be our own fault for being “so mouthy when he was just trying to compliment you.” We as a society need to change things; men need to realise they are not being complimentary, they are being creepy. If we try to stand up for ourselves we risk escalating the situation, and if we do nothing or try to diffuse the situation we are risking being assaulted because we’re “stuck-up bitches who wouldn’t answer them.”

I’d like to clarify here I am not talking about the guys who stare too long at my tits when I have on something fitted, or the ones who having checked the boobs then turn to check my arse as I’m walking past. While that is not always great fun it’s just a look, and as long as they’re not too close or actually leering it doesn’t really hurt. Besides, I’ll admit I often have a good perv if a nice looking guy walks past me but I don’t say anything (I might smile if they catch my eye), and I am fairly sure none if them are worried I’ll attack them, I’m fairly sure most of them aren’t living in fear of the women who might eye them up. The problem is the guys who feel they have a right to a conversation (or to comment on you personally) just because they think you’re attractive.

I have a friend who is a gorgeous woman, she is beautiful inside and out, and while I know there are many people who will be saying lucky her, it’s as much of a curse as it is anything else. She gets so many personal comments, to the point where she is now living in fear and hardly goes out because people get right in her face, and feel it’s okay to be overly familiar. This is part of a post she shared on Facebook (shared here with permission):

How big are you boobs? Real or fake? Do you use all of the toys you work with…? You must be really good in bed. How come you’re single? – would have thought a bloke would have snapped you up. Don’t do that, your face is so pretty.

I last went out properly in public a couple of weeks back to catch the rugby and I was shouted at (based on how I look) so much in the stands that I was shaking by the time we got to our seats. The only thing I could do is comment to my friends ‘this is why I stay at home all of the time’.

We are woman who smart, funny, confident and we are being held hostage by situations that aren’t our fault. We are living in fear because people think they are entitled to make personal comments about anyone they see. What happened to common decency, and politeness. I am fucking sick of it. I am tired of living in fear. Of mistrusting every man because of the ones who make us feel we can’t trust any man. Do you see the difference there? No? Then read it again. No, it’s not ALL men but it is ANY men.

‪#‎NotAllMen‬ but enough of them that we have to fear all of them.

Choices – Wicked Wednesday

Wicked Wednesday

Welcome to my 25th post for Rebel’s Notes‘ Wicked Wednesday, Choices. You don’t have to use the prompt but I like the inspiration, and challenge. The prompt for this week was:

choicesChoices…

Last week was about opportunities, whether you have taken them or not and whether you regret it or not. This week is about choices, and it can be seen as a continuance of last week. Why did you make a choice to take an opportunity or not? Or your choices can be about something totally different. Are there things you have to choose between? Maybe you have to choose between two jobs? Or between places to live? Or maybe it’s not things you have to choose between, but you have to choose between two people? Do you always have to choose between things or can you have both? Share your (sexy) posts about choices.

Choices

Most of the choices we make are silly little things that don’t really matter; what should I wear today? Shall I have another coffee? Red car or green? Wine or beer? Little instant decisions but when added up they create our lives. Those choices are the things that give us the building blocks of our lives. Then there are those big decisions, the monumental ones. There are also the ones you think are small but that turn out to be so much bigger than you could ever have imagined. The ones that change your life.

When I was sixteen I knew I wanted to be a writer. I wanted to do three English A Levels and then go on to study American Literature and Creative Writing at the University of East Anglia in Norwich. There were only two colleges that offered all three English A Levels, so I made appointments at both and went to speak to the relevant departments. My mum had passed away years before, and my dad had to work late so I ended up going to one of the meetings on my own. The man who met with me made it very clear he hadn’t wanted to take the meeting, he actually told me he had better things to do. I tried to discuss what I was hoping to do, what my plans were, and ask about the courses but I got nowhere. After 20 minutes of this I gave up, thanked him for his time and left. When my dad asked I just told him I didn’t think it would be a good fit.

He came with me for my other interview and it’s the place I ended up taking but I wasn’t doing the subjects I wanted to do. They had convinced my dad that taking three versions of English wouldn’t get me into university, I needed a broader range of subjects. I ended up taking English Literature, Geography, Psychology, and Law. I also hated all of them, except English and ended up dropping out after the first year exams. My dad blamed himself for letting them talk me out of doing what I wanted but it wasn’t his fault. Still I sometimes wonder how things would have been different if I’d made a choice to stand my ground.

Another choice I made that while it wasn’t a small decision but was done spur of the moment, was the choice I made to apply to do an MA. It was three years after my dad died, I’d survived a suicide attempt, split up with a guy I’d fallen for (after finding out he was a lying cheating shit), I’d lost touch with all my ‘family’, and I felt as if my life was stuck. I wanted to feel like I was doing something to change things, something to make the most of the second chance I’d been given. So even though it was really late I applied to do an MA, there were only a few universities offering one in Writing, and I applied to all of them; selecting and editing stories as a portfolio. I was invited for an interview at two of them. One was a university I had always wanted to attend but the other had a better programme. I knew which I should choose, and when they made me an offer I snapped it up. I spent the next month in a tizzy trying to sort financing, and arranging to move.

The MA is currently on hold but that decision was one of the best choices I have made in a very long time. It put me in a position where I have more opportunities with my writing, it made HornyGeekGirl a real possibility at a career, and not just a very enjoyable hobby. It put me in a place where it was easier to meet people, and make connections (and friendships) with some people who are now key people in my life.

Another benefit of that choice is that it got me away from my ‘family’, the people I used to be related to but who I now want nothing to do with. When dad died they just forgot about me, and for a long time that feeling of abandonment ate away at me but my shrink told me that those relatives are just an accident of birth (or marriage), and true family are the people who are there for you, no matter what. And that has nothing to do with blood.

I chose to walk away. I chose to start my life again. I chose to live. I chose to be Cheryl. And Cheryl is a survivor.

 

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choices