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Friday, 11 November 2016

THE STAGES OF GRIEF


I’ve been working up to this blog for some time now. It’s not an easy one to put down on paper, purely because currently, I’m not only submersed in the five stages of grief but I’m bouncing between them with such maniacal ferocity that I feel like a steel ball in a pinball machine. At the moment, I’m wedged somewhere between anger and… well, anger. And to be honest, denial at this point would be a luxury. In fact, if I could somehow master denial, perhaps none of what took place on November 8th would hurt so damn badly.

Like many, I’m awash in such profound misunderstanding, confusion, anger and frustration that it’s hard to know what to delve into first. Firstly, let’s take the anger. Like many out there, who voted for that man (I refuse to call him President elect, call that what you may), I’m viciously angry.. but perhaps for different reasons. I'm angry that people bought what he was selling, that they were duped, and fooled into thinking he spoke for anything but their worst selves. Do I understand that a large part of our population feels disenfranchised? Of course I do. Do I feel like they are fearful of being able to put food on their table, feel like they've been robbed, and that no one hears them? Again, yes, yes and yes. I have those same fears believe it or not (yes, us liberals have money worries too), but do I feel like Trump is their answer? Of course not. Do I feel like they were sold a bill of such bullshit that they’re going to wake up in four years, choking on it? Definitely. 

But moreover, instead of that man, simply saying, 'I hear you, and I’m going to change things because I fancy myself as outside of the establishment' (um, folks, anyone that lives in a palace made of gold is NOT anti-establishment. He's the 1% like it or not) he had to steep his entire platform in hate and inspire people to bring out the most deplorable parts of themselves. In fact, he made hate and bigotry in all forms, the engine for his entire campaign. He used fear, fear of the man or woman down the street who is a different colour than you to galvanize his fan base, and not only is that flat out dangerous, but it’s an egregious smokescreen from the truth. The fact is, the man or woman that lives next door, (but perhaps doesn’t look like you) is in fact, just as disenfranchised as you are. In fact, probably more so. They too are trying to put food on their table. They too are trying to figure out when we as a people lost control so profoundly. They too are trying to get from sun up to sun down without losing their dignity and life savings to the tax man. They too share your pain, frustration and disillusionment. 

Herein lies the other problem for me, I get the anger, I do. But the anger is misplaced. The anger should be at your government, not your fellow citizen. It should be at the 1% who rule this planet and covet their wealth like a baby with a new toy. It should be at the banks, the drug companies and those that sit in congress fighting like children and literally bend us citizens over a table time and time again and ask us to just take it. And we do. That’s the sad part. We take it, and we blame all the wrong people and things for what ails us. We've become complacent and uneducated and misinformed and we then wonder why one man at the helm can't fix everything (cause, well, the man isn't a woman. A woman would get in their and sort this shit out. But we've seen that people are way too fearful of that idea if the woman doesn't smile and wear the right outfit).

The reality is, that man is not going to fix what ails you. He is not going to put more food on the table (you can tell yourself he is by bringing your jobs back and building walls, but let’s see how the next four years go, shall we) and he is definitely not going to be anti-establishment. In fact, he’s already aligning his cabinet with ‘establishment.’ Old guards that play politics and have a PhD in screwing over the little guy. He is also going to learn very quickly how the game is played and that if he doesn’t play along, he’s going to get tied to a chair in the Oval Office.

And all that is expected. For anyone that understands how politics, and our government (really) work. And hence, why we should be really and truly angry.  Because nothing gets done, the infighting stumps progress and we the citizens are the casualties, time and time again.

But here is what I can’t (and won’t do). I won’t accept that this is now the new normal. I won’t accept that he is my President. Call it what you want, (sour grapes, sour loser, bleeding liberal), but for me, from where I sit, the day we as a nation accept a leader that engages in bigotry, racism, sexism and misogyny in such an overt manner, and furthermore, incites his fan base to do the same (and then conveniently wants us to forget as soon as he hits the White House gates) well, I simply won’t do it. I will hold you accountable. I will demand you apologize if you want me to give you a fraction of my time or respect. I will demand you do and be better.

At the moment, I am relishing the hurt. As much as I want to scream from the rooftops that the world has literally rolled off its axis into a pit of black, cancerous tar, I’m too consumed with the feeling of impending action. Must ACT NOW. I’ve never felt the feeling stronger to act, to educate, and to get involved. It has turned me into a feminist and political animal (let’s be frank, I was never not a feminist). Will I reach across the proverbial aisle and try to listen to the opposing viewpoints, always. There is always something to learn from those that think differently and as my friend says, no one should live in an echo chamber (I live with my husband, all he and I do is fight about politics because we don't always agree). But what I don’t do is fool myself. If someone wants to tell me how much they love their assault rifle and that Obama started racism and that Muslims should be deported, well, he/she and I will have NO common ground.  And I’m fine with that. As far as educating or trying to reach someone that is that steeped in bigotry, there is simply no point. Me and the Klansman from Kentucky are never breaking bread, let's just forget that notion. 

But what I will do is try to my utmost to stand my ground (this is not the acceptance stage, in fact, I hope I never reach the acceptance stage again), to spread the word, to get involved and put the message out there that we as humans can do better. That fear is what separates us, not our skin colour, religion or economic background, that the planet needs us now more than ever, that hate only drains us of energy. And we need that energy more than ever, to bring about change.

As for that man, appoint who you want, pass what you want, tweet what you want, you will never speak for me. And I hope in time, we as a country realize that such speech is not only dangerous, but it is only there to divide us further. And a divided people are much less powerful than a citizenry that works together to take back what is rightfully theirs.   

Saturday, 8 October 2016

THE REPUGNANCE OF TRUMP


I have not written about politics on this blog for quite some time now. To be honest, I couldn’t bring myself to do so. I knew once the floodgates opened, my true feelings would pour out and god knows it would be impossible to rein them back in...then again, maybe that’s not such a bad thing. So I lose Facebook friends (hurrah!!) that weren't really friends in the first place.  At this point, as a woman, if I sit silently one more moment (something that is simply not genetically possible for me) my head may explode. 

In short, my feelings today (and for the past two years really)...Mr. Trump, you are a pig and you have simply gone too far.

I am a feminist (I’m not sure how any woman out there is not one, but hey, that’s me). I am very aware I am living in a patriarchal world (this is not up for debate, this is fact so please don't bother arguing with me on this point) and on so many levels, my gender is disrespected, objectified, subjugated, abused, and raped -- purely because we are women. And well, it has been allowed for centuries upon centuries and why change what works for...men.  It is so inbuilt in society, in the male psyche (not all, there are exceptions here), in the workplace, in religion, in the home, on the world stage of politics, that simply put, women are less than.

I raise a son. And every single day I think to myself that I’m not just raising a man to be proud, kind, confident, intelligent, and in touch with his emotions (yes men, you can have emotions and identify them), but I am raising a man who must be aware of how women are treated in the world. And well, he must do better than the generations before him.  It is his responsibility to be a boy/man who treats women with respect, as equals, and as something to be highly regarded. He teases me that my mantra around the house is often, “I don’t work for you.” I’m his parent, I love him to back and beyond, and I will help him as much as I possibly can in life, but my job on this planet is not to serve a man, be it a grown one or a 6 year old. 

I have also spoken at length to my son about Donald Trump. He is aware there is an election coming up and he is keenly aware of my feelings for Mr. Trump. I make it clear this man does not speak for me nor “my” country. I also make it clear, that his constant ridicule, denigration and objectification of women is vile and is a confirmation of why, as feminists, we still have so much work to do.  My son so aptly says, 'Mr. Trump does not set a good example." Too right.

But moreover, what alarms me most is not that this sh*t comes out of Mr. Trump’s mouth – I have heard it before many many times, and nothing surprises me in this day and age.  It is that it is coming out of the mouth of a man that some (not me) are considering as a candidate for the leader of the free world.  There is no eloquence when it comes to Trump, no class, and certainly no dignity. There is no restraint, or thoughtfulness or savvy methodical judging of situations like a world leader should possess.  There is only reactionary, puerile, vile sh*tstirring to try and incite a part of the population that is so pissed off with their station in life and how the world operates that they can’t see clearly or make a sound judgment. And don’t get me wrong, you’re entitled to your anger and frustration (and I share a frustration at the state of the world), but HE is not the answer.

Raise your standards, I beg of you.

The latest video showing Trump treating women like dogs, saying we love having our p*ssies grabbed, that if “you’re famous you can pretty much do what you want,” that’s not just locker room talk (as he has said in his useless defence). That’s a man’s true feelings in private; that’s him with his guard down, showing his true colours for all the world to see and hear.  Furthermore, it highlights the systemic problem that men think they can take what they want, when they want, how they want and qualify it as harmless banter.  It is not harmless in this day and age when women are still being treated like brainless objects who are told to 'change jobs' when they are sexually harassed or 'keep quiet' when they are raped because they were too drunk or wearing the wrong skirt.

To Trump and all your supporters out there, we women are NOT yours for the taking.  We are not so googly-eyed by celebrity that we want some orange dough faced blowhole grabbing our crotches. I speak for the intelligent self respecting women out there and I emphatically say, keep your hands off me.

Furthermore, if your defense of Trump is that other men/presidential leaders before him have behaved this way, that is NOT A DEFENSE. That is an excuse. That is a deflection. (Furthermore, if a man tells me to lighten up about this issue, cut off your penis and try being a woman for awhile, then get back to me) If another male leader has behaved this way, then he’s a pig too, but he's a man that is not currently running for office. Let’s leave the past where it is and focus on the fact that we don’t need another sexist pig in office.

Moreover, if this is how a MALE potential presidential leader behaves, then let’s ELECT A WOMAN.



Saturday, 24 September 2016

HERBIE, THE IDIOT GIRLIE CAR


Cosmopolitan Magazine (yes, it’s still alive and kicking and probably still asking you on it’s cover if you’ve taken it’s latest ‘sex quiz’ to liven things up in the bedroom) and SEAT the car manufacturer recently confirmed all women’s suspicions: that the world still looks at our gender like a bunch of myopic, shallow idiots.  

Recently they unveiled a new car specifically designed for women. It’s purple (clearly they ran out of sassy pink paint)  Need I say more (oh but I will, I will). It was recently introduced at FashFest here in London (I’m sensing this has something to do with fashion cause of that zippy name) and received a bit of a lukewarm welcome. Actually I’m being kind, many women found it offensive and took to Twitter to let the manufacturers hear it, and frankly, I don’t blame them.

In addition to the simply ‘fabulous’ colour, the car also comes designed with jewel effect rims (cause little ladies love sparkly shiny things. Oooooh so pretty!!), a handbag hook (fine, I will give them this as the one practical idea they came up with), and eyeliner headlights. Yes, you heard me, the car is wearing make-up!  I honestly want to puke. Cause I have finally realised that in all my life, that hole in my heart, that aching void I tried to fill with so many other meaningless, fleeting things, could only be filled with a car wearing make-up. Hallelujah!!!!

Wait, sorry, give me a moment; I have to reapply my liquid liner so my car doesn’t upstage me. Be right back….

Apparently the car’s “thoughtful feminine touches” are the result of a two-year period of research and development with Cosmopolitan readers into what women want. I’ll remind you that the average Cosmo reader is around 18 and shouldn’t be trusted with car design let alone knowing not to wear white after Labor Day.  So as for what I want, it’s not purple and sparkly wearing make-up.
Of course SEAT came out and strongly defended the car saying they in know way meant to cause offense. And if we crazy little woman calm down, they have a pink fuzzy handbag with our names written all over it.

Here’s the thing, I don’t mind the notion of a car with a specific design catering to women (in fact, I’d like to see more things designed with us in mind as most products are designed by men, for men). But design it for actual women, not the stereotype of women. Make the seat contour us differently as we’re genetically smaller than men (for the most part), put in a LARGER coffee holder as we need so much damn caffeine because we sleep less and are always the ones waking up with our children. Make the glove compartment have a more organized compartmentalized structure for the many things we have to shove in it in order to care take for so many people. And here is the kicker, put a window in between the driver seat and the rest of the car (actually make it a large thick sound proof capsule) so we can get 5 minutes peace as we drive to our JOBS and use our brains to take over this planet from the male dominated car designers! Yeah…that should do it. Oh, and make it black or charcoal grey. Purple is for…well, my six year old son digs purple.

So, SEAT, you can keep your jewels and your make-up and your flashy purple car and design a car that is intelligent, efficient, pragmatic, and sexy…you know, like actual women.

Thursday, 15 September 2016

BLACK ENOUGH



My husband is of mixed ethnicities (how does one even say that?) He’s mixed – a mish mash…a  fabulous melting pot of a husband. As these days, most of us are, really.  The King for that matter is a walking UN, there are times at the doctors/school etc. and it takes me ten minutes to figure out which ethnicity box to check. My husband’s mother’s family is from Poland and his father is half Caribbean (Grenadian to be specific) & half English.

I’ve been with him over 10 years, and I’m always flabbergasted when people have the balls/nerve to comment on his skin colour. The top audacious comment, that he’s not ‘black enough.’ Or rather, they gleefully tell him that he’s ‘barely black,’ as if he fails to live up to some black test because his skin is a failing shade or his features don’t fall into some ‘black construct’ they have in their heads – “But um, all black people are supposed to look like this, didn’t you know??”  Saying this, for many he’s deemed to be brown (more than enough brown, but not enough black), but falls into that mysterious, “But really, what are you?” category. He’s often mistaken for Middle Eastern (real fun at airports), Moroccan, Brazilian, and so on…. Cause you know how it is, people love a label.

Before I go any further, my husband has very defined views on race and I shall leave it to him to explain this to you or, actually Newsweek Magazine can do it (http://europe.newsweek.com/there-no-such-thing-race-283123?rm=eu). But in short, he believes that race is a biological myth, not a reality. So, when people say he’s not ‘enough’ he’s not as offended as some would be, he’s just finds it curiously amusing.  On one level, one can’t help but be compelled to ask the idiot wanting to label him, well, what is black/brown to you? And why is it so important that my husband fits into that mold? And that is the key really…It depends on the construct that the person in question has in their own minds as to what ‘black is’ (or race for that matter). What people of colour should look like, act like, be like…. Is he wearing the wrong thing? Is his nose too wide, or not wide enough? What is the acceptable shade to allow him entry into this so-called club? (The hysterical part is most people that tell him this are white. Cause they know everything about what it is to be black).
  
In short, by saying to another person, 'you’re not ‘something’ enough,' you are immediately making a judgment on their experience (and being very obnoxious in the process). And it is exactly that, THEIR experience. Not yours. You don’t walk in their shoes, you don’t experience what they do and despite the shade of their skin, if they identify with a certain race, colour, creed what have you, that is entirely up to them (and well, not you) Furthermore, being ‘black’ and what that experience is, is not going to come down to race alone (or race at all for that matter). A Black man in Italy will have an entirely different experience than a black man in Arkansas. I still laugh to myself when someone asked me if Afro-Americans in England had English accents. And I said, um, YES, but they’re not referred to as Afro-Americans in England. They actually asked me, “Why not?”….Yeah, I’ll let you sit with that one for a bit.

There have been many instances where my husband was the only non-white person in the room and I assure you, walking into a pub in parts of England where you’re the only non-white and the entire room turns, well, suddenly you feel pretty damn ‘other.’  The other popular question he gets is, ‘where are you from?’ He always politely responds, “Well, I’m British.” And then of course, their response, ‘But where are you from?’ And he smiles and says, “London.” And they just pause and look totally stumped. Then just to torture them, he utters some Polish to our son and their head practically explodes.

And here is the rub, one man/woman’s black, might be another man’s brown, might be another man’s freaking beige, but at the end of the day, what the hell does it matter?  Each person is going to identify with his or her heritage in a specific way and that is not up to anyone else to label that heritage worthy of acceptability. And moreover, perhaps we should spend more time thinking of ourselves as Newsweek magazine (and so many other scholars do) suggests – as part of one species, ahem, the human species. But then, that would make us all the same, and not different as we’d like to think we are. Cause like it or not, we define ourselves by our differences; there is a safety in that. “No, no, I’m not like him. I’m better, smarter, faster, more successful!!” For me, that’s the egregious problem with today’s society. Too much focus on our differences, when we should really be looking at the collective as a whole and for that matter, our sameness. 





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