Tuesday, 25 November 2008

[TMI] Depression

I wrote this a couple of weeks ago (on the 14th) and then never did anything with it. I probably thought noone wanted to hear what I had to say so I just saved it and ignored it. But I've decided to publish it anyway. If you're not interested you can just not read it.

I'm just thinking out loud here because I feel the need to communicate and I'm not fond of communicating with people in my own life. How depressing is that? This isn't a Serious Blog Post (tm) but a Me and My Messed Up Head Post.

Sometimes I wonder if I am depressed. I get paranoid that, all those years ago when I had The Year That Wasn't (when I slept all days most days, didn't go out very often and only then to 4 places that I had deemed safe and only by routes that I had deemed ok, didn't really want to see anyone, etc) and my GP offered me anti-depressants that I should have said yes. But I said no. Because I thought that they just masked symptoms and because the few friends I had who had been on them spent large portions of their time talking about how they really wanted back on them, and that sounded unhealthy to me. Also, I was an idiot back then. I'm trying to not be an idiot so much nowadays.

I've been researching for a new thing I wanted to do both for this blog and also because I just plain wanna know. I wanna know what services are available for people/women in Scotland to help them when they are in crappy situations and want out of them. I intend on making list posts here so that I always have the information at hand and also because I have in the past been in a situation where I or a friend could have used help and I want to know what to do in that situation should it happen again. Look at me, conscientious community member.

During my wanderings round charities and help-sites I found the Depression Alliance which, so the website tells me, is "the leading UK charity for people with depression". Being me and me being a person who constantly does all those stupid online tests about depression and neurosis and so forth I couldn't help but click and have a look. There's a section on "What is Depression" and in it comes this:

Here is a list of the most common symptoms of depression. As a general rule, if you have experienced four or more of these symptoms, for most of the day nearly every day, for over two weeks, then you should seek help.

* Tiredness and loss of energy
* Persistent sadness
* Loss of self-confidence and self-esteem
* Difficulty concentrating
* Not being able to enjoy things that are usually pleasurable or interesting
* Undue feelings of guilt or worthlessness
* Feelings of helplessness and hopelessness
* Sleeping problems - difficulties in getting off to sleep or waking up much earlier than usual
* Avoiding other people, sometimes even your close friends
* Finding it hard to function at work/college/school
* Loss of appetite
* Loss of sex drive and/ or sexual problems
* Physical aches and pains
* Thinking about suicide and death
* Self-harm

I have had all of those symptoms. I have had all but the last two for the last few weeks acutely. I'm getting no work done, when I try I feel overwhelmed and hopeless even though I know intellectually I can do it, I just don't quite feel up to the task. Sleep is a source of endless misery for me and for the last few weeks I've been sleeping as much because I didn't want to see anyone as because I was just tired. I always ache, sometimes more than others, I've this persistent headache at the moment that just doesn't want to go away, but I always put that down to just being fat. The third one "Loss of self-confidence and self-esteem" seems inaccurate because I don't remember ever having either.

Actually the self esteem thing has been coming up alot of late. I was at a training session yesterday about presentation skills and part of my feedback indicated that I needed to stop being so self-deprecating and uncertain- even if I'm just pretending.

This is where the entry ended. Clearly I must have wandered away. I remember writing the entry and I was feeling particularly crappy that day (BTW, I have to say I think the Depression Alliance Scotland's Look Ok... Feel Crap? campaign has an awesome title). I was crying at nothing and I wanted to go to bed but didn't see the point since I wouldn't sleep anyway and... it was bad so I'm not surprised that the entry wasn't finished or posted. I'm actually quite surprised how well it reads.

Anyway, to finish the post:

My supervisor has banned me from being self deprecating (she's already banned the phrase "if that makes sense"). My ex-support worker (the provision ended) suggested self-esteem and confidence building courses. Even my mother gets annoyed at me for the constant put downs (of myself).

Which is really beside the point, the point being that I wonder if I am depressed. I wonder if I should be medicated, even though my track record with remembering to take my meds is irritatingly low and my trust of meds is lower still. I am starting CBT next week, and when I told the woman I was cynical about the whole thing she asked if that was me or if that was the trauma talking- the trauma being Asshole- and we realised, or I realised, that I really have no memory of who I was or how I was or of there being a pre-Asshole time. Asshole occurred too early in my development and I don't know if there is anything about me that isn't tainted by him, including whether or not I am depressed because, truth be told, I've been having episodes like this month (I've largely not gone out, not interacted with anyone, not done anything this month- I'm starting to get out of it this week but I'm still a bit... prone to feeling like crying over nothing) for as long as I can remember. So perhaps, if these episodes are evidence of depression, or are depression, I've actually been depressed for as long as I can remember too.

Lots of perhaps and maybes and I don't knows in there. I'm going to try this CBT stuff and if it works great, and if it doesn't then we'll try something else. I'm sick of feeling this crap allmost of the time.
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Friday, 14 November 2008

UK gender pay gap widens

From The Guardian

The pay gap between men and women has widened over the past year to stand at 17.1%, official figures out today showed.

The Office for National Statistics said that the difference in earnings of women and men in full-time employment rose by 0.1% over the year. For part-timers, the gap increased to more than 36%.

I'd like to say I'm surprised but I'm not. I'm more surprised about the fact that this article was buried right at the bottom of the UK page and the stressing, within the article, that it would be bad for men now that men were being laid off by the financial crisis. No "it's bad because it's unfair to penalise a whole group of people for just being biologically different" but rather "it's bad because it might cause problems for the menfolk and we all know they're the important ones here." FTBS

In related news:

The UK has fallen lower down the world league table on gender equality for the third year running, and is now ranked 13th out of 130 countries in terms of women's pay and work opportunities, political power, health and education.

Last year Britain came 11th in the World Economic Forum's Global Gender Gap Index, while in 2006 it held 9th place.

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Wednesday, 12 November 2008

Things That Piss Me Off, Part The Third.

False Advertising

It's a new season. I like to look at clothes and pretty pretty underwear. Because I like wearing things that are pretty. So I go to Evans Online, Evans being about the only store I can walk into and everything in it I can wear (whether or not I would wear it is a whole other ballgame)... or at least it used to be that everything in it I could wear because, apparently, they've decided they're not stocking pretty bras in my size anymore.

But it's worse than that because of how they advertise their bras on their website:

I've marked on the picture what my problem is. In the top right hand corner of the picture that leads you into the different sections of bras it says "Bras available in sizes 38-50, cups B-H" which fills you (or at least me) with happiness because at least two of the bras they've chosen to showcase here I kinda like. But, here's the thing, none of those bras there actually go up to the 50H size. The multiway goes up to a 46E, the babydoll 46F (the matching bra in the range also only goes up to this size), the basque is either a 42G or a 48E in sizes, while the plain old boring white one goes up to a 40F. These sizes are based on what their own website says they go up to. And not one of them would fit me.

Going into the matching set section because, and I repeat, I like pretty things and I especially like pretty things that have matching other pretty things, there are nine bras with matching knickers and one bra (the one I've mentioned already) that has a matching babydoll, knickers and suspender belt. I really like that last set, but, as I said, can't have. Of these ten sets there are two that I can have there is the Black bra with gorgeous silver floral embroidery. and Beautiful black co-ord bra with teal embroidered detail. The teal one's alright I guess but it's not the black one with sparkly bits or the pink sparkly one or the other black sparkly one. (I know that's not all of them but I don't like the other ones.)

The thing that really gets me, however, is that a couple of months ago I could buy any of the bras on Evans website- not the basques or the babydolls or the corsets but the bras I could have- but now, a couple of months later, they've decided that I'm not to be catered for. I have bought matching sets from them before. I have bought matching sets with suspender belts before. I've tried on a multiway bra that actually fit but now I need to loose 2 inches off my back and go down 2 cup sizes to be able to even try on the multiway bra... and that's not even taking into account that I had to go up one backsize and a cupsize to get the old multiway to fit. But now, apparently, I'm not allowed the option to buy one.

Evans has been, for me, the only place I could get clothes that weren't hideous either in style of price. It has been the only place I could get underwear and sleep wear that wasn't boring and unattractive. I felt betrayed when they started stocking smaller sizes but I let it go because they still stocked clothes in my size. I felt annoyed when the clothes became less well made, when manufacturing flaws became the norm and when the clothes started falling apart quicker because they have been fine with exchanges up to this point. But now they're taking away products that before I was allowed, and that just makes me furious.

But, you know what, I have to keep shopping there. Because there's nowhere else.
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Tuesday, 11 November 2008

The Scottish Government wants women to use more Long Term Contraceptives.

Women using contraception will be asked to try alternatives to the pill under plans to cut the number of unwanted pregnancies in Scotland.

The government will run a campaign next spring to highlight longer-lasting and more reliable forms of contraception.

Under the strategy, women are to be offered coils, implants and injections. BBC News: 10/11/09

The Scottish government announced yesterday that they will be running a campaign to persuade more women to use longer lasting forms of contraception in order to reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies- or, more importantly it seems, given its repeated highlighting in the various news items, abortions of which there were 13,000 in 2007. And the ages of the women with the highest rate of abortion? 16-19. It will be suggested to women between 18 and 40 who are already on the Pill. Does anyone else see a problem with trying to reduce abortions by not targeting the women most likely to be having abortions? And that doesn't help at all with the 300+ girls below the age of 16 having abortions. I hope (I'd like to say assume but I'm not that optimistic) that along side this initiative there will be another targeting younger people (note the people here- it takes two to fertilize an ovum).

The options that will be suggested:

Long-term contraceptives which could be encouraged include Depo Provera, a hormone injection which lasts for three months, and Implanon, a small rod inserted under the skin in the arm which releases a hormone over three years.

Another option which can last for up to five years is Mirena, a small T-shaped implant which is inserted into the womb and releases a hormone.The Daily Record: 10/11/09

Interestingly only The Herald seems to mention that there have been critics of the scheme, although only in regards to suggesting older women should go on it because of the extended reduced fertility that these options have for women even after they stop having the injections/being implanted/having strange objects lodged inside them. Confusingly, the Herald's article also states that "This latest bid to improve sexual health will focus on improving safe sex, particularly among gay and bisexual men, and the first stage of the campaign next spring will tackle the taboo that still surrounds discussions about sexual health and habits." which makes very little sense since nowhere else in either this article or the other newspapers are social groups other than women of childbearing age even mentioned. Is this rolling out of contraceptive advice just part of a wider scheme? I tried to find something on the Scottish Government's website but my searches produced nothing.

What struck me about this scheme regarding contraception is how biased it is towards women being the sole person responsible for contraception. There's no mention of educating men to wear condoms so as to not accidentally knock up the woman they're sleeping with. No! Because, as we are all fully aware, men don't need to take responsibility for what happens to their sperm- sperm? what's that got to do with pregnancy- it's just the stupid, forgetful, possibly slutty, women who are the only ones that should be thinking about these things. FTBS.

Also, looking up the options being suggested (on Wikipedia, I know, really should find better research sources) reveals problems all of their very own.

Depo Provera can reduce fertility for up to 18 months after the last injection was given. The longer you are on Depo-Provera the more likely you are to suffer from bone density loss which can lead to osteoporosis. It is unknown whether this loss is irreversible. In the states the FDA recommends that women should not be on Depo-Provera for more than two years. Which is a lot of good for women who go on it at the age of 18. Furthermore, based on what I have heard from family members, Doctors do not always seem to be aware of this side effect leading to women who are at risk from loss of bone density- in this case due to an intolerance for dairy- to have been onDepo-Provera for over five years, only becoming aware of the bone density problem when researching for themselves. Are the government going to ensure that the doctors prescribing this medication are aware of the side effects and take it into account?

Implanon has, as a problem, the fact that, if implanted by an inexperienced clinician, nerve damage can occur and also, if misplaced, it doesn't work. If it breaks it can be hard to remove and scar tissue forming around it can also cause problems. Although, other than that, there doesn't seem to be any major problems (besides the normal types of side effects: fucked up periods, migranes, increased anxiety etc). Fertility returns quickly after it has been removed and it can be removed at any time. However, the Wiki page seems quite slight and the information leaflet provided has lots of "It is not known" which indicates that more research may still be needed. The leaflet also mentions that it can cause cysts on the ovaries that may require surgery. Fun.

Mirena "can only be fitted by a qualified medical practitioner" as it is going into the womb and we don't want any yucky bacteria or accidents when playing in there. The cervix needs to be dilated in order to have the IntraUterine System installed... installed sounds like an unfortunate word choice but can't think of the correct one... which in itself is often painful for women. Whether you get a local anesthetic or even just a couple of pain pills is, from the sounds of things, pot luck. It is also possible that this method does not actually prevent conception but rather prevents the fertilised egg from implanting so, if you beleive life begins at conception O_o then this may not be for you either. According to Wiki however noone knows how this bloody contraption works, just that it does. As for fertility, it can be left in for five years and after one year 80% of women are fertile again. It doesn't say what happens to the other 20%. There is also a rare but "potentially" dangerous risk of perforation of the uterine wall and damage to the other internal organs. Oh, and it's not a hundred percent, and if you get pregnant while it is still in there it can cause you to have a miscarriage.

Of course none of these methods (nor the Pill) prevents STDs (or STIs as they appear to be calling them these days). The fact that 300+ under 16s managed to have abortions in 2007 indicates that under 16 are having unprotected sex. Same with all the other age groups. So, surely, promoting condom use would be more useful than having women inject, implant or undergo minor surgery at the risk of their long term health?

And, you know what, with men being the group with the highest incidents of STDs/STIs, promoting condoms and MUTUAL responsibility for contraception might actually do the menfolks some good too.
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Monday, 10 November 2008

OK. I have to ask...

...how come every fat person that has 'magically' become thin and who is reported about in the news always had a terrible diet before they decided to 'grow up' and eat healthily and go to the gym?

In The Scotsman today there is an article about a woman who went from a size 26 (UK dress size) to a size 8 in three years. What gets me is she apparently started at a size smaller than I am now and at the time she her diet included "snacking on countless biscuits and eating two desserts a night" and she "found it hard to walk short distances and was embarrassed to travel on public transport." In order to lose weight she just (just!?) changed her diet and hired a personal trainer. Oh! to be able to afford a personal trainer. If I could just do that all would be alright with my world.

Fuck off.

The point of this is not to slag off a woman who has done an incredibly hard thing, and capitulated to society's requirement for women to be a size 8 and I wish her the best in keeping it off and with being happy, but instead to ask... how come every fat person in the media has to have a bad diet? How come every fat person in the media has to have had no exercise and to have been unable to walk? How come every fat person who the media talk about has to have been miserable? I am a fat person. I eat plenty of fruit and veg. I rarely eat dessert (mainly because I don't care to have them all the time and when I'm out I can feel the disapproval... depending on who I'm with). I do eat biscuits, but not countless ones. Sometimes, instead of biscuits, I eat dried fruit sticks- healthy and delicious. I go to and participate in dance classes on a regular basis. I am a quite snazzy dancer. I walk everywhere (although I do use public transport if I'm going somewhere in a rush). And, yes, I am frequently miserable but that is less to do with my weight and more to do with my family, my lack of money, my confusion over my life path, my self-doubt and low self esteem, and my isolation at working from home.

So how come the media and the press insist that it is just being fat that makes people (women... how often do you hear about some brave and marvellous man who lost half his body weight in three years?) miserable?

Wait! I know the answer to this! It's because we deserve to be miserable for daring to not be conventionally attractive be female be fat. Because fat is bad. And fat people= bad/lazy/stupid people. I declare this Bull Shit and I repeat: Fuck off!

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Sunday, 9 November 2008

This Is Not An Invitation To Rape Me.

Rape Crisis Scotland are running a campaign called This In Not An Invitation To Rape Me (click for the link). It's a poster campaign with four different strands: Dress, Intimacy, Drinking and Relationships. In their own words

"This campaign is targeted specifically at public attitudes to rape which blame women for rape, and is focused on four main myths: a woman raped while wearing revealing clothing is to blame for leading someone on; a woman raped after consuming alcohol is to blame for not considering her own security; a woman raped after consenting to any level of sexual activity is to blame for ‘giving mixed signals’; and finally that women can’t be raped by their husbands or partners." From the Factsheet

It is backed up by a website packed with the myths, the facts, the impact, as well as images, a quiz and details regarding the law- and details regarding where you can get help should you have experienced sexual violence. The 'fun' (and by fun I mean infuriating) facts that are highlighted on the website include:

1. "A survey of 986 Scots carried out by TNS System Three in February 2008 for the Scottish Government found that 27% thought that a woman bore some responsibility if she wore revealing clothing." Dress

2. "Almost a quarter (23%) of the broad cross-section of the Scottish population (700 interviewees) who took part in research carried out by Progressive on behalf of Rape Crisis Scotland in August 2007 believed that women contribute to rape if they have engaged in some form of sexual activity." Intimacy

3. "In 2002 the UK Home Office published the findings of a British Crime Survey to which 6,944 women had responded. Nearly half (45%) of rapes reported to the survey were committed by perpetrators who were victims’ partners at the time of the attack. Strangers were responsible for only 8% of rapes reported to the survey" Relationships

4. "Research conducted by Amnesty International in 2005 found that 28% of people believe that a woman is totally or partially responsible if she is drunk" Drinking

The billboard that I have personally seen has the wedding picture that I have put into this entry. I think the inclusion of marital/partner rape is a really powerful one because I feel that it is the one that is forgotten about most easily. Hell, it only became illegal in this country in 1989 (according to Wikipedia marital rape became illegal (hell, recognised as possible) in England and Wales in 1991). Another 'fun' fact I found out on the campaign website.

In Scotland the rape conviction rate is only 2.9% (with, according to The Scotsman, "huge regional variations in the proportion of cases that end up in court, from 19 per cent in Dumfries and Galloway to 1.7 per cent in Tayside."). To my mind that means that 97.1% of women who report rape to the police are legally found to be lying, just plain wrong, responsible for what happened to them or that their claims are unprovable. Now I'm not saying that every woman who goes to the police is telling the truth (although, given what I know about the way women who claim to have been raped are treated by the police, the courts, the press and the rest of the fracking world I would be very surprised if the number of false claimants wasn't very, very, very, exceedingly small- reporting rape is traumatic in and of itself) but I do think that a 97.1% conviction rate is terrible and that, with the conviction rate in England being around 6% we are seriously letting ourselves down as a country (what, should I not play on old Scotland v England prejudices?) not to mention as a society of supposed human beings.

This campaign is a result of this information regarding the conviction rate coming to light back in August of this year. More importantly, the Scotsman reported in that original article that

"The Crown Office has carried out a detailed review into rape prosecution, while the Association of Chief Police Officers in Scotland undertook its own investigation.

Both produced a list of recommendations which are being implemented. For example, about 500 prosecutors and fiscal-service staff are undertaking specialist training to boost the chances of rapes being successfully prosecuted." Source

Retraining sounds like a good thing for all involved. Undoing the social conditioning that insists that men can't help themselves, women lie and women should do more to protect them (i.e. that sometimes she asks for it) I think would be more useful. And that's where this campaign comes in.
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Tuesday, 4 November 2008

Things That Piss Me Off, Part The Second

The Pictures That Are Used To Illustrate Obesity News Stories.

We've all seen them, the unflattering pictures of fat people with their heads chopped off and that end mid thigh. If heads are visible the person is invariably miserable, or eating, or both.

[Image is of fat woman sitting down with no head and no legs below the knee. I assume they are pictured sitting down in order to remind people how lazy fat people are.]

I typed "obesity" and "uk" into Google new search and saved the pictures of people that came up (I didn't save the ones that were of boxes of pills). The majority of these pictures relate to the anti-obesity drug that was pulled by the EMEA last week after it was linked to a number of suicides and to depression. I'm sure, from the pictures being used to illustrate this story, the chemical effect of the drug wasn't the only thing helping to make these fat people depressed- the way they (or obese people in general) are shown in the media really doesn't help.

Below the cut is the rest of the pictures that I pulled from the net and links to where I got them from.

The BBC in particular seem determined to remind us that we should be monitoring ourselves, but that we're greedy (and not worth faces apparently, backs of heads only!)

And talking of self monitoring:

(Is it just me that wants to caption that first picture: "Measuring: You're Doing It Wrong!"?)

There are just two more images that I pulled from the search. The first is actually of a face that doesn't look particularly happy or unhappy to me but who I have no idea who it is of. The fact that it has a face on it makes me think it can't be just a random person:

While the second is a cartoon of a fat man dropping a pill into his mouth which looks like it is going to go into the mouth of the smaller, thinner man inside him. Because, as we all know, inside every fat person is a thin person dying to get out, or, alternatively, that a fat person isn't actually a person, the fat is, what, a mask? That a fat person can't be considered an actual person until they are no longer fat? FTBS.

And the links:[1][2][3][4][5][6][7][8][9][10][11][12]
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Sunday, 2 November 2008

UK Feminism

I often find myself wandering the feminist blogosphere feeling quite distanced from the topics on offer What, I wonder, does it matter to me to hear endlessly about Proposition 8, Sarah Palin, the hideous backlog in the processing of rape kits in LA, other than to make me (righteously) angry? Why do I need to know the details of a "he said" "he said" election that I can do nothing about and will just make me feel frustrated? Is there nothing happening in my own country? Is there nothing in my own country to get righteously angry about (for example the 2.9% conviction rate for rape charges in Scotland, that seems like something that's due some attention and ranting about)/ Where are all the British or Scottish feminist blogs? Is The F-Word Blog really it?

And then the other day, while reading about a 21yo woman being raped in Glasgow last weekend([1], [2], [3]) I suddenly realised: I have a blog! It's in Britain! It can have a British, or at least a Scottish, perspective!

Of course this could be a really big job, and I am only learning , growing, working out my stance on topics. Perhaps it is a a case of me trying to take on too much, perhaps I just don't have the time or the motivation or the intellectual capacity for it. But then, you know what, if I don't fucking try I'll never know.

So I'm going to try. I won't promise not to comment on things outside of this remit. I'm not stuck on an island... well I am but the Internet and globalisation and the sheer high frequency of American influences on Britain (not the mention the lesser but not unimportant influences from Australia, Canada, Mainland Europe, or rather Europe, Japan/China, India, the Middle East, basically everywhere ) makes the ability to be xenophobic rather moot. Anyway I'm not going ti stop reading all those other blogs: how would I procrastinate? But what you can be assured of is that I will have a British./Scottish outlook on the whole thing. Because that is what I am.

So there it as another sentence starting with 'so' a declaration of intent. I may be now to this Serious Blogging lark but I so want to give it a darn good try. Now I just have to work out where to start.

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Fat Acceptance

I am fat. It's one of the things that has been a constant source of misery and pain to me. When I started school the bullying for being fat started. By the time I got old enough to like boys I already knew that I was too fat to ever get a decent guy who would love me and want to be with me because I was me. Basically, before I had even hit puberty I knew that I was unattractive. By the time I hit my late teens I knew that I was destined to be alone forever. Having been single these last 7 years (basically my entire 20s) I'm starting to think that my theory has been proven, but at the same time I know that I'm being a bit extremist in this because, get this, I haven't tried. Largely because, after the few relationships I had post-Asshole also made me miserable, I realised that I am happier single. I am happier not giving a crap about having to have a man to validate my existence. Because, men can't validate the existence of women. Our existence is our validation.

I've been wandering about the feminist blogosphere for a while and I quite like it here. It is what prompted me to make myself a blog. I wanted a set handle; I wanted a place where I could talk about things that came up. Considering that I wrote this post last weekend and then never got round to posting it shows how well I've been doing so far but, you know, it's all a learning curve right. However, while I was wandering the blogosphere I did, on occasions, come accross fat acceptance blogs. And, everytime I did, my gut reaction was to reject them. 95% of diets don't work? We should be happy the way we are? Diets are bad? Even diets that we call something else are bad? Other people don't like us- that's their problem for being asshats? Fat isn't unhealthy, that's just bs mainstream propaganda to undermine us? These sentiments bothered me, they felt defensive, they made me feel defensive, and I dispute their underpinnings. Also, I consider myself to be so much more fat than the women in these blogs who, from the pictures, are what I would call "normal". I realise that this is problematic of me because I am trying to undermine their self-belief that they are fat but, to my mind, our culture is geared up to make normal women feel fat. Hell it is geared up to make way too fucking thin women feel fat. So I understand why they feel fat, but having women who look so vastly slimmer than I do tell me that I just have to accept myself and stop dieting and then all will be fucking fine in my world sounds like just one more group of people attacking me for being the way I am.

There's also another aspect of that mindset, those principles, that bother me. I don't ovulate. I want to be a mother. In order to ovulate again, according to the many many books, websites, articles, etc. that I have read the one thing that would help is losing weight. So, since I do have a specific health issue whose key treatment plan is become a healthier weight, does this mean that I can't participate in the fat acceptance blogosphere? Same with my insulin resistance. According to all I've read losing weight will help my body deal with that. So does the fact that I would like to lose weight to help my weight make it unacceptable for me to participate in those blogs? Does it mean that I have no place in a community that claims acceptance of fat and fatness? Does the fact that I am on medication to try and make myself more able to lose weight negate this problem in that medication = non-diet related treatment= not a diet and therefore not WrongBadEvil?

I don't know. I do wonder whether I just haven't seen enough of the fat acceptance space to really judge. But given that reading those blogs actually undermines me- because if 95% of diets fail that means I have a 95% chance of never being of a weight where I can then deal with my PCOS to have babies- and then, really, what is the point in even trying to be healthy when I am never going to be the one thing I have always been certain that I've wanted to be? And if diets that call themselves something else (i.e. healthy eating or lifestyle changes) are bad then all food is bad because, you know what, what you eat on a day to day basis is your fucking diet. Deal with it. And certain foods, i.e. the foods that clog arteries and kill you, are bad when you eat them all the time. Moderation hons. And balance. Then again surely trying to eat a balanced diet also make you anti the fat acceptance movement? Because, surely, every doctor out there can't be evil bastards trying to make everyone miserable. And those governmental 5 a day recommendations- that is just them trying to make us keep Britain's farms going by buying unnecessary 'healthy' foods?

I am in this space at the moment where I want to become a healthier and happier person. Part of this is by getting myself into a headspace where I don't spend every day berating myself for not eating properly or for forgetting to take that pill or for having that "I don't think I can leave the house today" feeling. It's about recognising what I feel. It's about working on what makes me feel better. It's about trying to accept myself for who I am. It's about exploring what I think. It's about trying to resolve the issues that mean I expect people to hate me without even speaking to me. It's about trying to stop blaming myself for what happened with Asshole. It's about trying to work out how to live with who I am while trying to make healthier the things I do have control over- without it taking over my life and making me miserable. But what I don't know is whether or not reading fat acceptance blogs will help or hinder my progress. I guess I just need to wait and see.

Perhaps I've just been looking at the wrong fat acceptance blogs? Anyone got any recommendations?
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Tuesday, 28 October 2008

PG Porn: Nailing Your Wife

I wrote this post about a week and a half ago and then never got round to posting it so, pretty much, I'm way behind. But I still think it's worth mentioning.

There is a man called James Gunn. He is a writer and a director. He has previously been responsible for such gems as Slither and Tromeo and Juliet. His most recent project is PG Porn (the tagline of which is: "For people who love everything about Porn...except the sex. "), which he is undertaking with his brothers. They have recently released their first PG Porn offering on spike.com entitled "Nailing Your Wife". I watched it. I found it awful but I recognised that it was meant to be awful in terms of production and acting. I saw the ending and was shocked, amused and disquieted by it. I thought very little else about it because, get this, I went to see it because it had Nathan Fillion (aka Mal in Firefly) in it and I forgot to put my critical hat on. I do this sometimes, which is unfortunate because, when I have my clueless non-hat on I internalise the BS that surrounds me (or, more precisely, all of us as BS is everywhere). I also fail as a feminist.

Anyway, I watched it. I forgot about it for a couple of days and then I saw a mention of it on Whedonesque because, get this, a woman dared to highlight its misogyny. And James Gunn? He's not happy about it.

To sum up Darklady's point, she argues that making PG Porn- porn without sex- and having it climax with a woman nailed (literally) in the head with a nail gun is, well, problematic. It's problematic because it depicts a sexual woman as a woman willing to cheat on her sexually inadequate husband and as willing to initiate this extramarital sex as a person whose murder is funny. In other words that sexual women being punished (with death!) for being sexual is absolutely fucking fine.

The Gunn brothers apparently consider violence against women to be not just acceptable but sexy, so long as nobody actually gets laid or engages in any wet spot to erogenous zone contact.

And this, Darklady says, is misogynistic. I have to say that I agree with her although I'm not convinced that it was supposed to be "sexy". I'm not convinced it was meant to be seen in the same light as actual porn but rather to play on the tropes of the porn genre.

However, that said, James Gunn's response to this analysis is, for me, absolutely horrific. More horrific than anything in this PG Porn episode or his movie which, if I could bring myself to look at Slither again I could have a field day talking about what is wrong with it (although I don't remember it being particularly misogynistic but just gross and everybody hating) but, having seen it once, I have no desire to see it again, not even for my Nathan Fillion fix. He says that she is a stupid ("Ms. Reed may be mildly retarded."), that she is "fat" (and therefore, what, too unattractive to listen to?),

"And, fourthly, in your picture, tilting your head like that and cutting off the frame right below your chin doesn't trick anyone into thinking you're not fat."

and that she is an example of someone who just shouldn't be allowed to express an opinion.

" your article pisses me off because it's just another example of how every idiot thinks his or her voice is worth hearing on the internet."

Oh, and lets not forget that she's "humourless and just plain doesn't "get" the joke.

"I have no idea how Ms. Reed doesn't understand that PG PORN is, uh... a joke. But she doesn't."

Because, after all, if he thinks its funny then it's funny. And if he thinks his vid. is just a joke and not a cultural artefact or, even, a representation of what he and his brothers think, then, clearly that's all it is. And the woman who dared to criticise them? Well she's just a stupid fat bitch who shouldn't be allowed to speak. And, out of this whole debacle, that is the thing that I find most problematic.

EDIT: In typing up this post I went back to James Gunn's blog (to get the link) and I noticed that he has responded to some of the responses to his entry. I have to say that, while I question his logic in some places, the fact that he has responded and the tone that he took in it actually impresses me. I still disagree with him, but I am impressed that he has responded.
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Saturday, 25 October 2008

Glamour Body Image Survey

Via The 'F' Word (US)
Glamour magazine are doing a survey regarding body image.

I went and filled it out in the hope of, as Rachel says over on The 'F' Word, "if Glamor knew just how much women hate and loathe their bodies, perhaps they’d offer more body-positive kinds of articles". I found it a bit triggering as reminding me of all the reasons I feel shitty about myself does make me want to run off and eat something. But, still, if it ends up showing them how miserable body image issues make people it can only be a good thing... right?

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Sunday, 19 October 2008

The Asshole and The Repercussions.

When I was 12 I had a boyfriend who was 4 years older than me. When I was 12 said boyfriend decided he wanted to have sex and me, being young and curious and having not a fucking clue what that really involved (largely emotionally although I knew the theory but wasn't ready for the reality), agreed, only to try and pull back consent when it was dark and he was looming over me and I felt trapped and scared. Only for him to try anyway, holding me down, until I got too loud (what with the crying and yelling) and he got scared that someone would come in. It took me about ten years to be able to call this attempted rape (I took back consent and he didn't stop).

Over the next wee while he worked on me. I don't remember the details anymore. But I know that I ended up feeling like I was being a bad girlfriend, a bad girl, a cock tease, that he would go away and everyone would know I was frigid and weird and... you get the idea, so I gave in. It's taken me 16 years, and a support worker, to get close to accepting that this was child abuse. 12yos are too young to make those decisions.

I was with him for 4 years, we had sex though out, and to me it was a chore, occasionally fun but usually boring and occasionally traumatic. It was something I had to do it because I was his girlfriend and it was my job. I also thought (sometimes think) that I was WrongDirtyBad and I was going to Hell for sinning. Jesus and his Dad were big figures in my head when I was a teen, probably because I still sort of believed in them. I'm over that religious stuff now (but I still worry that I'm wrong and that I'm going to hell for having sex so young even though, intellectually, I think all of that stuff is guff). I also think that God sounds like a complete arsehole and I don't want to believe in a misogynist who is pro-genocide.

My mother found out within a week. She gave me a talk about using protection but told me she wouldn't stop it. It was my decision. I was, sometimes am, really angry at her for this. My father still reckons he knows nothing. I have told him many times and he claims obliviousness everytime. I don't buy that he was oblivious- my 6-10 year old brother knew (he walked in on us), my 9-13yo sister knew (because she felt it meant she needed to lose hers early to keep up). I didn't mean to screw up my sister. I'm really sorry if I did because I love her and I want her healthy and secure and whole. I'm not sure how to classify this aspect of the whole affair- my support worked seems to think Mum and Dad were complicit in child abuse and therefore being Not Good Parents. Also, possibly, criminal. I don't want to blame my parents however. It makes me feel WrongGuiltyBad.

Also, we never did use protection. The Asshole didn't like it and, even though I kept telling him we needed to use condoms, he just point blank refused and I didn't want to be a bad girl so... it just added to the WrongDirtyBad. It also meant that I spent four years paranoid I was pregnant and too scared to check when I missed periods. This also means that, despite the fact that I am certain I had at least one miscarriage (it felt different, it looked different) I don't have a confirmation of this. Because I never checked I was pregnant. And I never took the strange bloody lump to the doctors to be analysed because I was fourteen and I didn't want to get anyone into to trouble: not me, not Asshole, not my parents. I also didn't want everyone to know- I was already being bullied at school, I was already being violently attacked. Hell, by that point I was already used to fending off stones being thrown at my body and had gone through the fun incident where boys tried to set my hair on fire. Arseholes.

The net result of all this is hard to quantify, to justify. I haven't had sex in years because, when I tried, I always panicked. I always end up remembering that it was dark and he was looming and I was scared. I always ended up feeling like, if I stopped, I would be bad, I would be a tease, that I had a duty (there's that word again, where does this idea of duty come from?) to finish what I had started. BTW, the looming dark panicking thing still happened when I was on top and the lights were on. It's an image that flashed in my head and made me panic. A few times it even happened when I was all on my own. I don't like male body parts, the idea of sperm makes me feel ill and kind of creeped out, and yet I seem to persist on being straight. Because I am straight just like gay people just are gay. It's what you are, end of story. I want to have children, but I don't want to have a man or, even, sex. I kind of like the idea of harvesting eggs and having it all done in a lab with lots of screening for disease and asshattery of the sperm. I feel panicked when men appear to be interested in me. I self sabotage when this happens, I make myself ugly for a few days and I stop going out because, get this, I'm scared. I have a feeling this may also be the reason why I screw up my every healthy eating plan.

I'm afraid all the time. I'm lonely. I don't really want to be around other people. I don't want to be a burden. I don't want to assume that anyone wants to be around me because I don't have anything interesting to say. I spend most of my time online where I still don't make any real friends because, well, why would anyone want to be friends with me. I want to get better but I don't know how. My mother says I need to stop thinking so much. My support worker suggests that I just go out and do things and try anyway. Sometimes I just want to wake up and be better, but that's never going to happen.

I have three weeks left of my support worker. I'm a bit worried about that although I'm not convinced that it's done a damn thing other than give me outside confirmation that, yes, The Asshole was bad, and the sex was abuse, and the way he treated me was abusive. I suppose that's something, that confirmation, but still...

It's a process right? And I just need to keep on working on it. Then, one day, I'll be ok.
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Friday, 17 October 2008

Things That Piss Me Off, Part The First.

Quotation marks round words designed to undermine women's stories.

Like in this picture here:

The heading of note here is "Woman beheads 'attacker'".

Now, ok, beheading people is generally not a good thing. And parading the head around the marketplace, which, according to the full article, she did, is also probably not the wisest of choices. Other people may not take it very well and, indeed, didn't since they called the police. But, putting quotation marks around the word attacker automatically implies that the woman is lying.

For the record, in the article the woman says that the man came up behind her while she was cutting grass and attacked her and she cut his head off, presumably in self defense, although the article says it was to preserve her dignity. And in relation to being attacked she had bite marks on her neck and cheek. She also told police that the man had been harassing her for 3 months. The woman in question is in northern India and I know nothing about norther India or the culture of northern India. I presume the 'dignity' comment means that she thought she was going to be raped. So we have an attempted rape victim who fought back being labeled a liar by MSN. Par for the course right.

If she were a man and she beheaded another man because he attacked her- and there were actual physical marks that indicated that there had been some form of violence (bite marks)- would MSN have put quotations around the word attacker? Do victims of muggings who are out walking at night get blamed for being mugged the same way rape victims often are? No. This is the same thing.

On a related note, this is in "today's picks". It is along side the news that Beckham may be returning to football in England, Angelia wants to adopt again (why is this a shock?) and one of the pussycat dolls doesn't think that she is sexy because men don't hit on her. So a woman being attacked and retaliating is on par with not very news-worthy celebrity news?

The world sucks.
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Saturday, 11 October 2008

McDonald's M Burger.

You never forget your first time. Bah humbug.

This advert opens with all the usual wedding day prep of a young man off to the church. He has a smart suit on. He has a friend hanging around behind him, also smartly dressed, watching him get ready and smiling. They go downstairs and his parents are there, again dressed smartly. His mother tells him how proud they are of him. The walk out to the car and start to get in, his mother fussing at his tie, the neighbours watching. Then we cut to his parents watching him, his mother looks teary eyed, and then to him looking a bit sheepish and hesitant but happy. He looks up and we cut to the smiling face of a young woman looking expectantly at him, waiting, and then he... asks for an M burger. The camera pulls back to show that she's in a McDonald's outfit and she gets him his burger. At this point the VoiceOver tells us about the M burger. As the advert ends he is sitting at a table, his friend and his parents watching him proudly as he takes his first bite and the other customers clap.

Remember Your First M-Burger at McDonalds

The thing is, watching this, all I see is that McDonalds are equating meat/a burger with a bride and therefore Women are only Meat. Women are just something to use, to consume. And if you look at the only other females in this ad you have a fussing mother and a obedient server. None of which is a good message.
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Friday, 10 October 2008

Because, God Knows, We Can't Even Let Old Women Forget That Their Life Boils Down To Their Sexual History!

A woman in Cornwall turns 105- and the Guardian decides the most important part of her story is that she's a virgin. Assholes.

On the main page today(10/10/08) the story is advertised as:

"Woman celebrates 105 years of virginity"

The actual article itself isn't quite so clear cut. Miss Meadmore (the 105 year old in question) says that she thinks her longevity is to do with "plenty of walking, the odd glass of wine - and remaining a virgin." This a paraphrase by the writer of the article so we can't be sure that this is how she phrased it (then again media is suspect at the best of times anyway and even quotes can be misquotes). However the main focus of the article is on her sexual history.

What this makes me wonder is: how did this become the only important part of this woman's story? She was born in Glasgow in 1903. She's lived through the 2 world wars. She's lived through all women getting the vote. She's worked as a secretary. She's lived through women's lib. She will have seen so much and she'll have done so much, but here she is after 105 years and all the reporter covering the story is interested in is that she's a virgin and whether that's because she's gay. How does that even come up in a conversation without some prompting? Did the reporter (Sam Jones) sit and wonder what would make the article interesting and decided "Well sex sells" and therefore set out to focus only on this. Terrible.

It's nice to know that, should I live into my hundreds, all this society will be interested in will be when I last got laid. Way to turn women into sex objects only (because only our sex matters) rather than letting us be people.

Despite my irritation at this article, however, I hope Miss Meadmore had a very Happy Birthday. Hopefully if we talk about her on her next birthday we'll be able to know more about her than merely her sexual status.
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Tuesday, 7 October 2008

State of Britain.

It's been a great day today. I had my daily dose of racism and sexism all before 10.30am.

Firstly, I'm lying in bed contemplating getting up. I'm almost ashamed to say that, as a PhD student whose desk is at the bottom of her bed, this is a near daily occurrence. Chris Moyles and his lot are on the radio and it's the Monday Pub Quiz feature. As ever my ability to answer the questions were shocking. Unfortunately what was not shocking was that one of the men in Chris Moyles' team, annoyed at having a bad score, made a comment about the sole female player's score being "Good for a girl." Why not start the day with some harmless misogyny right? Anyway, the person controlling the quiz, Rachel, docked him a point for being sexist (Go Rachel)! Needless to say he wasn't very happy, but didn't get any sympathy within the team, so the Great British Public weighed on in and by the end of the next song he was reading out a swathe of text messages all saying things such as "That's what you get for giving women authority", and "Don't worry mate, must be her time of the month", etc. So, because Rachel stuck to her guns and made it clear that she did not find sexism acceptable she got a slew of texts basically saying that, as a girl, she should never have been allowed even that limited power and that protesting against sexism is irrational. I especially loved how the guy whose points were docked claimed that the nation had spoken and that the nation was behind him. I really hope that such thoughts weren't the opinions of the nation as a whole.

Incidentally, after those texts were read out, I sent in a message saying, and I quote, "Good to see sexism is still rampant acceptable in British society. By good, of course, I mean shameful and disgusting." I didn't wait around to see if it was read out, I was too annoyed so I got up and got on with things instead.

Then, at about 20 past 10, I was walking past the Buchanan Galleries and there was a drunk ranting and weaving his way across the road. I tend to try to not listen to them because, well, they're always so aggressive and talking such bullshit. Unfortunately I caught the "Look at all these fucking Pakis" line which shocked me to the point of turning and glaring at him before I realised I really didn't want to have to deal with an overly aggressive drunk man when I was actually trying to get to a specific place at a specific time. Also, I'm a wuss and I have no idea what I should do in those situations. I start walking away and following me up the road I hear him going on about "Darkies" and giving some disgusting, and biologically impossible reasons, for the colour of their skin.

Of course it did make me suddenly painfully aware, and ashamed, of my colour and my privilege and my nation, The fact that I look so typically like a Scot means that I will never have to worry about being told that I shouldn't be in Scotland, well unless they decide I sound too English. It also made me realise, again, how many different ethnicities are here in Glasgow, a fact that, even after having lived and worked here for a couple of years, I am every now and then surprised by. My little town in the middle of nowhere was nothing like Glasgow.

I don't know what I should have done. And I think this post is rather whiny. I hate being whiny. I don't like confronting people and I don't think random drunk guys are likely to listen to me or give a shit about my opinions. I'd much rather rant about it on a blog or send an inefficient text message.

Still, today, I am disappointed by my nation. And I wish I was more surprised.
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Monday, 6 October 2008

Boots "Here Come The Girls" Ad.

At the moment Boots is running an advertisement in which a man watches with bemusement as two girls do their make-up while traveling on a bus. The camera pans back and forth between his confused face and the two girls who have changed their whole look (make-up and hair) while they were off screen. I have seen this advert on numerous occasions and I've been largely dismissing it as just more sexist, girls are shallow and obsessed by make-up while men are too rational for such things and sit on the bus reading newspapers and watching the women around them (seriously, even if they were rapidly undergoing such transformations, what business is it of his that he has the right to blatantly stare at them?), bullshit. At least one of the women in the advert is given a chance to give him a glare for staring.

But then I noticed something, there is a third woman who is transforming between shots. Unlike the other two women she doesn't get to be clearly visible in the picture, no dominating the mise-en-scene for her, she is, instead, crammed into a corner. She also happens to not be white.

Do you think this is a coincidence? No, me neither.

Interestingly there is one other non-white face in this advert and this time it is a man. He is also at the edge of the screen and disappears rather rapidly from view.

This really doesn't help persuade me that this literal marginalisation wasn't on purpose.

For your consideration, you can see the advert here.
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Sunday, 5 October 2008


I have never been good at introductory posts. When I started to write the first draft of this post I realised that I always include certain details but, at the same time, there are things that I never include. I have never thought to include my race (white) or orientation (straight) or my political leanings (liberal), etc. I always include my age(28), my sex (female), and my rough geographical location (Scotland). I usually include some clause or word that are there to say "please don't hurt me" and "please don't take me too seriously". These last two have been included out of fear, out of the desire to avoid those words from my family that basically tell me that I Am Wrong when I say things they don't agree with. Things like: "Threatening to hit women for disagreeing with you makes you a misogynist asshole, oh yeah and ABUSIVE, not just a funny jokey bloke" or "Women will never be treated as equal to men while the media is full of messages that brainwash us (male and female) into thinking that women are less than people and that their physicality is more important than any other aspect of their being" or even asking "How come practically everyone on tv is straight, white and beautiful?"

I'm here because I'm sick of feeling like I can't speak my mind. I'm bored of trying to talk to the people in my life about the things I see and think only to be told I'm being hysterical, I'm taking things too seriously, or I'm just plain overreacting. I'm not fucking overreacting.

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