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A few thoughts about london pride 2016

25 Jun

Fuck mainstream pride
Fuck the straight homophobes (ie most london pride attendees)
Fuck the police
Fuck the god damn military
Fuck the colonialist racism
Fuck the violent misogyny
Fuck the islamaphobia and antisemitism
And fuck the people that tolerate it.

Sick of my social media right now. Full of straight people at the Starbucks no filter photobooth and a viral picture of a police man proposing.

London pride doesn’t make me proud.

Pride is a Protest! Pride is radical love, for yourself and fellow queers. Pride is anti-fascist, decolonial and feminist. Pride is ACAB!

I don’t have a problem with mainstream pride being a party, I have a problem with it being so exclusive it is impossible to show real solidarity to fellow queers.

Where do my undocumented queers go?
Where do my queers observing shabbat or fasting for Ramadan go?
Where do my queers suffering ptsd from state violence go?
My transfeminine queers, my poor queers, my disabled queers?

London Pride doesn’t make me proud, it makes me scared and angry.

Gallery

Why I tell gross boys at parties that I’m a lesbian (not true).

21 Jan

Here is something I don’t like: saying no. Rejecting people. Resisting the urge to start nodding before the question is even asked. (I just want people to like me??? Is that a crime???)

Here’s something I do like: parties. I like Absolut and dancing and treading on the fun side of “too glittery”. (Who makes the rulez anyway? Fight me. I have more glitter than you will ever understand.)

Here’s an experience that connected these two things and revealed something small and unimpressive about myself:

I was standing at the edge of a party, panting and getting ready to rejoin the fray, and I saw a Boy approaching. A boy that had already approached my friends but had been put off by their defensive group formation. But I was alone, and recovering from a surprise piggy-back, and there was nothing I could do apart from wait.

He swooped and slotted next to my bum with his delighted grin already prepared, showing his slick teeth. There was nothing less I wanted in that moment than to speak to him. Nothing.

He said words which I could not hear over the bass but it really didn’t matter because we can probably all guess. I definitely caught the word “beautiful”, which is always a bad sign when from someone you don’t know.

I grimaced at my friends who gave me cheerful thumbs ups and laughed. Cruel friends!

This boy got closer and closer and my feeling of please don’t touch me got closer and closer to overcoming my politeness until he said something like “so, are you here alone,” and I was like. No.

The time honoured excuse of

“I’m sorry, I’m a lesbian.”

burst out.

This is not true. In the plastic language of describing sexuality to teenage straight boys, however, it is partially true.

I am into boys. I was not into this boy. At this point, I was really into spinning in circles with my excellent friend until light smears and we collapse laughing, and at the back of my mind was a fierce desire to obliterate anything that got in the way of that.

The boy says “What??”

And then “You’re too cute to be a lesbian. I never would have guessed.”

And then “Are you sure?”

And then, blessedly, he detached in search of some goddamn straight girls.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

When I was less drunk, I thought about this incident and what it shows about how I perform being queer and a lady – alternate hidings and dramatic reveals when it suits me.

The way I just described this, it sounds like I was against it from the beginning. Although I was never going to do anything with him and it was too noisy to flirt properly anyway, the vibe he got from me at first was probably “Lol, whatever, at least this boy appreciates this dress because none of my friends gave me enough credit and I look like the one hundred emoji tonight.” I was not flirting with him, but I was also not giving him the No as soon as he walked up, probably because I was too out of breath to move fast. He took this as a yes – lol @ entitlement – but this is kind of his problem. However, I didn’t say no. Is that my fault?

So why didn’t I? Why did I semi-lie to get him to go away? Why is the word no trapped somewhere deep in my throat when it comes to situations like these?

I turned him down with amusement, with the word sorry of all things because no way in hell could I just say no. I was so unable to say no that I couldn’t just say I’m queer and therefore interested in all genders (true), I had to shut him out completely, provide an excuse for not being interested in him and not appreciating his unwanted attention.

Being a lesbian, in the snap judgement I made at the time, more acceptable to this random guy’s ego than a straight (( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)) rejection in a situation I was uncomfortable in.

I mean, it worked! He went away! But this entire experience – and it’s not just a one-off – makes me realise that I should work on rejections, because my sexuality is not, technically, a reason, but my lack of attraction is.

Another thing: I am femme AF. Make-up, shiny everything, heels, whatever. This is why this dim boy thought I was ””””too cute”””” to be gay.

People think I’m straight, all the time (itself a form of erasure)*, which can make life easier for me in specific situations. It can hide me, and I am often hidden. If I am flirting with a boy, sometimes I purposefully don’t tell him I’m queer for fear of putting him off (I’m fully aware I have bad taste in boys and don’t know how to flirt.) I’m also white, cis, acceptably-bodied, etc. (see below for me breaking this down further). I also don’t want to deal with the endless nonsense of explaining what queer means and having  people say, actually from a straight person’s perspective I don’t understand and think you’re wrong. (Good).

 

IN SUM TOTAL: FUCK MALE ATTENTION AND APPROVAL 2K16 BUT ALSO STAY SAFE GALS, DON’T FEEL FORCED TO COME OUT UR NOT LYING TO ANYONE FUK DA SEXUALITY POLICE. KEEP ON TRICKIN THOSE FUCKBOYS @ PARTIES AND LAUGHING WITH YA GALS, WHO GIVES A SHIT.

*two interesting articles about femme privilege and whether it exists or not. It’s all about intersection of identities, guys! The main point is – the shit I get is shit that all women get, and the good stuff is probably due to white privilege. WoC, trans women etc. are likely to have a very different experience as being femme from my middle class white one. Still interesting points though. And also, is people wilfully ignoring the possibility of queerness a plus? Are small favours rooted in misogyny (free bus rides, free drinks etc.) really evidence that I’m lucky? idk

http://femmedreamboat.tumblr.com/post/39734380982/femme-privilege-does-not-exist

http://www.autostraddle.com/femme-privilege-does-exist-a-little-153400/

As I turn 18

2 Jan

I feel like I am totally alone in this fear but like so many things I am afraid to talk about, many others probably share it.

As I turn 18, my mind is full of worry, hopes, dreams and fears for the future. Most are what you would expect, scared of becoming more independent from my family, worrying about school and so on but there is another fear in the back of my mind. This niggling voice saying “now you’re fair game, there’s nothing to protect you”.

You have probably seen in the media many a disgusting countdown to some child celebrity turning “legal” at 16 or 18, old enough that the old men leering over them are accepted readily by both the law and society.

You may have seen the kerfuffle around the “women who eat on tubes” facebook group a while back, a group where non-consensual pictures of women innocently sustaining life are mocked and shamed.

How are these related? you might say. Well these are both voyeuristic, misogynistic situations where women and girls are viewed as sexual objects without their consent and sometimes even knowledge. They violate a woman’s privacy, they encourage violence against women by disregarding the fact she is a human being with rights and feelings.

These are both situations where I, as a child, would have some degree of legal protection, or at least the illusion, but would not as a woman.

One day I was waiting at a bus stop in Hampstead Heath, leg hair flying in the wind and enjoying the last bit of summer warmth. A balding man of about 35-45 years old struck up a conversation with me about the weather, “thats nice” I thought “you never get strangers talking to each other in London”. Oh how innocent you were Lilipop.

Conversation quickly turned to my leg hair and got very very creepy. I felt desperately awkward as his eye contact shifted from my eyes to my boobs and he questioned me on my reason for growing leg hair (because no woman can do anything without it being to sexually please a man) and if I was hairy “all over”. He offered to buy me a drink from the Starbucks opposite and I said no. That no was totally disregarded of course and this man kept asking.

“I’m 15” I said quickly, then turned and ran away.

He didn’t follow but some have. This situation has played out in 100 different places, with different people and different outcomes. What if it happened again? Where is my “top trump”, my “get out of jail free” card? What can I say or do that will get rid of these weird men because saying no doesn’t work.

As a child, I do not legally have the capacity or say yes or no. It is Paedophilia, it is Statutory Rape. Headlines in the Daily Mail and 5 years in jail. Men can respect this but not me.

As a woman, I can legally say yes or no but it doesn’t make a difference. I said no but I smiled at him when he said hello so really I mean yes, right? He wants a yes so he will get it by any means necessary. Now I am no longer a child I don’t even feel like I have the right to say no at all. I feel unresonable for being a person.

As I turn 18, I am scared for a future where attack feels imminent.

There is nowhere to hide anymore.

#ThisGirlCan have forreals feminist adverts

31 Jan

When Daisy first showed me this ad at my school feminist society, I almost cried. I think this might be the first truly feminist advert Ive ever seen.

In case you don’t know, #ThisGirlCan is an advert by Sport England on TV as well as a poster campaign to encourage girls to do more sport. I adore it so much because it actually promotes sport for girls in a healthy way. There is no mention of weight loss, in fact there was even some diversity in size (although no one who was “too” big. Let’s not get carried away, this is the fatphobic patriarchy after all), women of different colours and ages were shown having fun exercising as a hobby instead of the usual, suffering in the pursuit of the elusive (because it doesn’t exist) perfect body shape, promoting the Pain is Beauty narrative which justifies so much social and emotional violence against women (a.k.a. diet culture) in the name of “health”. The ad shows exercise as something positive in itself, not because it makes a company money, makes you more attractive or thinner, but because it might be enjoyable and make you happy. Full stop.

“Woah” I hear you say “something encouraging women to do sport by not fat-shaming them, profiting off their insecurities, pushing unhealthy diets PLUS showing a reasonably diverse range of women? This must be a hoax”. Now normally I would agree with you, it seems after some thorough googling that this is not a drill however #ThisGirlCan is by no means perfect. Some of the camera angles were *ahem* interesting (read: weirdly sexualising) and there wasn’t brilliant representation of of women with disabilities or older women either but all in all, I’ve definitely seen worse.

As far as I can tell, what sets this #ThisGirlCan apart from the usual “eat my product or no one will love you because you will be fat and ugly” or “give me all your money to join this gym and you too will be able to miraculously run a 10k with perfect hair, no sweat and be 7 sizes thinner” kind of ads usually associated with selling women a healthy lifestyle is precisely the fact that it is not trying to sell women a healthy lifestyle. If we look at some of adverts that have been trumpeted as a revelation and totally feminist for example Dove, Special K or CoverGirl no matter what the adverts say, no matter what stereotype they subvert and no matter what kind of diversity of female images they show, they all have one thing in common; their purpose.

Their purpose is to sell, snatch your money, do anything to get you to buy their product and everything else is just marketing strategy. Empowering women is not their aim and they do not give a damn about women, it’s not what they get paid for because, have no doubt, its all about making a profit. If these feminist ads like #GirlsCan (CoverGirl), Potty-Mouth Princess’ (FKH8) #LikeAGirl (Always) didn’t make companies money then they would give up and try a new strategy. A good example of this is Dove, in the West Dove says “Love the Skin You’re In” but all over Asia they sell dangerous skin bleaching products taking advantage of endemic shadeism that they encourage.

#ThisGirlCan is not from a company seeking to make money though, Sport England is a charity and at complete odds to previously talked about ads, the main purpose of #ThisGirlCan is female empowerment and women taking on a genuinely healthy lifestyle. This is the reason Sport England has been able to create one of the first sincerely feminist ads I have ever seen.

No One Needs Their Male Opinions

11 Jun

In general I try to only consume content created by women and other minority genders (herein WaMG) in all the media I consciously consume because men already control too much in my life. Lets take school as an example since I spend most of my time there. The most obvious one is my headteacher is a man as well as the majority of the SLT (Senior Leadership Team for those of you not stuck in secondary school) but then it becomes a little less obvious. Men write and approve the curricula taught in our schools, the for examination boards for England (AQA, Edexcel, WJEC and OCR) all have male CEOs, men are more likely than women to be in senior leadership positions and this is all leads to a laughable male-centric bias in not only the curriculum but the way schools are run in general for example slut shaming uniform policies.

It isn’t just that male created content is more prevalent and celebrated (78% of all UK front page bylines are male), men are deciding what content is prevalent and celebrated. Men are the music executives, the film producers, the TV commissioners, the newspaper editors which get to tell us the opinions and the points of view we consume. They decide what music we listen to on the radio, what we read in magazines, what we see on the TV and almost all the rest of the mainstream media. Their decisions severely effect our world view, whether we realise it or not, for example in the recent UCSB shooting, the coverage of the event has framed the murderer as having ambiguous motives despite an extensive internet trail of the man’s blatant violent misogyny. The media have been doing everything possible to hide the fact that these murders where a result of male entitlement in our culture. Men feel so much entitlement to women’s bodies and affection that it is some how a reasonable response to take a life. This is misogyny and a hate crime but from reading the large majority of the mainstream media’s coverage you wouldn’t know that.  That is just one example of the incredible influence men have over our lives, its almost like some international conspiracy… OH NO THATS PATRIARCHY  (ahahaaa I’m so funny). In short, there are too many men telling us their opinions.

So how do we fix this problem? I know one well discussed possibility is just to get rid of them all but on a more practical level, having a Men Cleanse is a good way of renormalizing the disproportionately male opinions we consume on a day to day basis. I have been doing a very basic version of the Men Cleanse for about a year now but it’s time to completely eliminate them from my life, at least for a week. The aim of this cleanse is to take the everyday media we consume and take it our of the male paradigm. This means not consuming any content created by men and if possible something men have had little direct control over. Until I started doing this I had no idea how much I consumed was actually male dominated and how hard it actually is to do this so I have made a little guide for you!

The Men Cleanse

Books:

  • So the most obvious place to start with books is the author. Try not to read books written by men, google the author if you have to and if you are in doubt then just don’t read it yet, save it for another day.
  • To take this one step further, only read books which have been edited by women and are published by publishing houses with female CEOs

Magazines:

  • In general women’s magazines and fashion magazines are drenched in misogyny so just no. However if you are reading a knitting magazine or something similar, only read magazines edited by women and articles written by women.

Films:

  • There are three categories I normally evaluate films with. The screenwriter, the director and the main characters. I would say a film would need two out of three of these to be a woman to pass the test and a majority female cast gives bonus points!

Music:

  • Try to only listen to female singers or bands with female singers. In certain genres this can be really hard (rock, metal etc) because there is a huge lack of female representation at all levels of the corporate music industry. Hopefully this will also mean you get to discover some cool new bands too!
  • For extra points try to only listen to songs written by women and/or produced by women. This can be extra tricky as it differs from song to song even on the same album but if you have time it would be a great thing to do.

TV shows:

  • Again there are different categories to judge TV by. Producers, writers and characters all can be taken into consideration but these can differ from episode to episode. I try to only watch shows with the main character being a woman or over half the main characters being women but you may want to choose your differently.

Social Media:

  • Now this may be tricky and can cause friction. Ideally you would unfollow/mute/unfriend all the men on your social media but this may not be possible, especially if the men in your life are not as feminist or understanding as they could be.
  • On twitter you can mute a user which means you don’t get push notifications from them and their content does not show up on your TL and you can without them knowing an you can still follow each other.
  • Almost the same thing is available on Facebook. You can unfollow a person on Facebook without them knowing and with you still being Facebook friends.

Newspapers:

  • Its pretty easy to make sure the writer of any article you read is by a woman. There can be issues if there is a news item you want to read about but you can’t find any coverage by a woman, I would google it and you probably will find something by a woman but I think exceptions can definitely be made here.

Online articles and blogs:

  • It can be hard to find out who is editor/sub editor of what you are reading online so with online articles I just make sure the writer is a woman. I cannot tell you what a huge difference this makes to your perception of the world, there is so much ignorance and privilege cut out of your life, its great!
  • I keep to blogs run by women and group blogs edited by women with women writers.

 

Double Chins Are Fierce

5 Feb

I have already talked about body acceptance a lot on my blog but now I want to talk about microaggressions against fat people which I have never done before.

As a fat girl it has taken years of hard work and energy to love myself and accept my body, my double chin is no exception. I got my double chin a while after I had been working on my body positivity and at first I found it really embarrassing. I tried to hide it in photos and videos by taking photos from a weird angle or if I was talking to people or even whilst I was playing my viola or bassoon (which gave me really bad back ache), it made me so ashamed. This was happening while I was feeling better about my arms or legs being too wide or the stretch marks on my tummy, so at first I didn’t really notice what a bad effect my double chin shame was having on me because, after all there has never been a point in my life I can remember where I have not been embarrassed of or hated a part of my body so it was not new or surprising. It was not helped by the fact that before, when I had been fat but not had a double chin, people where always saying that I had to stop gaining weight or I would get a double chin in this horrified voice that made it sound like the worst thing ever.

After I started to notice that this hatred of my chin and subsequent hiding of it was taking up like 100% more time than it should have (ie 0% of my time) I started to work of chin-love as well as the rest of my body. A big part of this was taking AMAZING selfies with double chin proudly on display and really appreciating how fab I look (not gonna lie), another was finding pictures of other beautiful girls with double chins. I found this one on Tumblr by Rachele. It is my absolute favourite chin positive picture and inspired me so much!

tumblr_muhih6mJhz1qzr6v7o1_500

So now I was starting to like my chin or at least no obsess over it so much, I started thinking about why I specifically hated my chin so much? What was it about my chin and not lets say my cheeks? Well lets look at how double chins are presented, not just in the media but in everyday interactions between people.

What came to mind immediately for me was a common selfie pose where people give themselves/exaggerate double chins by pushing their chins into their necks and make a funny face. Its meant to be funny but to me it sends the message “look at me with my double chin, ew don’t I look weird”. To me it sends the message that double chins are disgusting or weird and we laugh when people do this pose with fake double chins because why would anyone want a double chin in real life? It tells me that a part of my body that I love should be ridiculed and it is undesirable.

I am guilty of doing this in the past and I’m sure many people reading this are also but let us once again look to the root of the problem and be unsurprised when it is the media. The same story as always which to be honest I am tired of repeating. There are no double chins in mainstream media that are not criticised or laughed at. I am too sick of this to elaborate but I’m sure you know it already.

I am going to keep on loving my double chin and celebrating beautiful double chins everywhere but its hard when they are constantly laughed at by my closest friends.

2014: The Year of the Selfie

1 Jan

This is Lilipop.

I am not going to do a review of 2013 for my New Years post, like everyone else seems to be doing, for many reasons – the first of which being I can’t actually remember what I did this year – so instead I am going to talk about a challenge I am going to take part in for the whole of this next year, 2014.

2013 was the year of many things but it was the year I discovered the selfie. Before August I didn’t have Instagram, let alone Sapchat, so the only selfies I took where the odd webcam picture with Jelly or a pic if I couldn’t decide what to wear so needed second opinions (yes, the struggle is real). In August I had the amazing opportunity to go to America for #SPARKCamp13, a 3 day camp for girls in SPARK Movement. Among the many things I got from my gorgeous SPARK sisters, the most relevant thing to this post is – after extensive manipulation they managed to bully me into getting Instagram. After a few days I caved and got Snapchat as well.

Since then selfies have become a part of everyday life. From taking a selfie with my baby sis for the landmark event of buying her first bra to sneaky Snapchats to my American SPARK sisters in my geography lessons, selfies are a part of the way I communicate and commemorate. The media, and even some feminist media (*ahem* JEZABEL *ahem*), calls girls narcissistic and says selfies are a “cry for help” but to me there is nothing more radical than celebrating with a cheeky selfies. To me a selfie says oh yeah gurrrrrrrl its my time to shine! Selfies promote self-acceptance and love, whats not to love?

In 2014 I will be participating in the #365FeministSelfie challenge, to help me continue the ongoing struggle of loving myself in this world of misogynistic advertising, be comfortable with what I perceive as flaws and to celebrate being me! I think it will also be a completely fantastic way of documenting my year. I have created this tumblr blog for the challenge www.365daysoflilipop.tumblr.com so follow if you are a selfie positive gem or just love my face (lets face it, who doesn’t). Jelly will probably be featuring a lot! If you are also participating then I would LOVE to have a chat or see your blog/insta/however you are documenting and if not then I encourage you to increase your selfie production in 2014, the year of the selfie.

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