Fake Friends

In the midst of the festive season, navigating toxicity is paramount. It is essential to surviving what should be “the most wonderful time of the year” with your mental health in tact. Christmas seems to egg on those festering fakes to slide into your dms with a patronising “glad you’re doing so well”. Why don’t you just fuck off?

Maybe it helps them to gloss of the years of bullying and manipulation: despite what they did – you’re still doing well. So the bullying can’t have had that much of an affect, right? Maybe it led to the success, the ‘doing well’, and it’s all just self-congratulation. I wouldn’t be surprised. Everyone has that person who pops up, uninvited like some meandering fuck boy, with a self-interested congratulatory or well-wishing address. Let’s forget, in this moment of congratulation, in grossly misjudged well wishing, that you persistently undermined my intelligence over a period of years, that you said I didn’t deserve my job, and as a result of working would fail academically (BA, MA and 4 promotions later…). I don’t know how people can have such a selective memory.

But for some reason, an occasion, be it Christmas, graduation or an engagement, prompts people, who haven’t spoke to you for 5+ years to appear, congratulate, and disappear into the abyss from which they came. Or even worse, they attempt to continue their misjudged interjection past the “glad you’re doing so well” into an actual conversation. Brushing under the carpet years of non contact, years of escape.

“We really need to catch up sometime soon – it’s been forever!!” No we do not, and forever has clearly not been long enough.

People are so quick to support the ditching of shitty boyfriends – “DUMP HIM!” they shout profusely, but when it’s a friendship a certain unjustified leeway seems to operate: “But you were SUCH good friends! You can’t end all that over something so … small”. Yes I can, and I will. Any relationship can be incessantly toxic, not just those that entail romantic entanglement. Sometimes friendships can be the most noxious of them all. Some friendships are run like a mini-dictatorship, one self proclaimed “Queen Bee*” running an authoritarian regime Kim Jong-un would be proud of. “Queen Bee” creates arbitrary circles of power, themselves centrifugal in the operation of a friendship solar system. Sorry, Pluto. “Queen Bee” ensures total loyalty by the simple fact that anyone can become Pluto, that individual on the brink of – “Can we talk to them, can we not talk to them?” Not quite an outsider and not an insider either; which is possibly the worst place to be. I’d much rather receive The Phonecall when “Queen Bee” states: “None of us like you and you can’t be friends with us anymore,” move over Gretchen Weiners. Of course, “us” means “I”, but what’s really the difference in a friendtatorship? And the worst part is not knowing what you’ve done wrong – how the fuck have I gone from Mercury to Pluto in 0.00001 second?

This is when the real bullying comes in – the arbitrary will of the “Queen Bee” is relentless. Apparently she has exclusive right over more things than the actual Royal Family. Buy a pair of shoes she likes – PLUTO. Talk to someone she knows without permission – PLUTO. Kiss a boy without approval – PLUTO. Have a personality – PLUTO. Have any non-state sanctioned fun – PLUTO. And then comes in the lying, the desperate plea to imagination to certify “I AM COOLER THAN ALL OF YOU” the only real claim “Queen Bee” has to authority. And to maintain this status she ensure to play off  one friend against another, again, a tactic which exercises an over-indulgence with lying and exemplifies her joy in watching human suffering. What riles me the most is the denial of autonomy, the literal dictatorship of “this is the regime and you must follow it, and if you think outside of my fallaciously designed parameters, you’re out.” For too long, I tolerated it, I’d been bullied, slut-shamed, humiliated, undermined, ridiculed, lied to, and I got off pretty lightly. I’d been Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, Pluto, and finally liberated. I will not tolerate this shit anymore – neither should you.

*DISCLAIMER: Purely fictional and totally not based on any person living or dead, but if you think it’s about you it probably is.

Consent by Thong

consent

I literally wear this style of underwear everyday. When I’m going to work. When I’m unwell. When I’m on my period. When I’m feeling as unsexy as ever. When I’m going out. When I’m drunk. Does that mean – wherever I am – whatever the circumstance – if I’m raped, it’s my fault? Was I “asking for it” for routinely putting on a certain style of underwear? Or if I happened to pick these over another style on that day. Would it be a different story if I’d but on my Bridget Jones’s? If yes, I was feeling sexy, up for it, but not with him, not there, not right then, not when I said no, is it still my fault?

It’s terrifying that blame culture endures so far that a 17 year olds choice of underwear is deemed relevant in a rape trial, as a crucial point of ‘evidence.’ In scrutinising her underwear in this way, more agency is given to the inanimate object than to the victim herself, she is shamed for her choice, ridiculed, humiliated and ignored. In this courtroom, a slither of lace does all the talking for her, despite her protestations.

Is it surprising that sexual assault, and rape in particular, is so under reported? In Northern Ireland the conviction rate is less than 2% with any tactics being employed in the courtroom to ensure that the rapist is acquitted. In a number of cases this includes scrutiny of the victims clothing. Was her dress short? Was her top low cut? What underwear was she wearing? What is her sexual history? Has she had one-night stands before? Anything to demonstrate, that yes she was up for it, she was asking for it, she’s a slut and a liar; anything to deny that men use sex as a weapon of power against women.

The objectification of women that has prevailed previously, and the patriarchal ideology that propagated the idea that women exist for men, has been replaced with a theory which continues to reify the superiority of men. Women who have been raped are painted as promiscuous, slutty and attention-seeking. Why didn’t she shout? Why didn’t she scream? Why didn’t she resist? She must’ve liked it. She must have wanted it. Because the idea that a man is undesirable is unfathomable. The concept that she rebutted a man’s advances and told him no is impossible. Who could reject a man?

This thinly veiled consideration of ‘consent’ is nothing of the sort. In such cases, anything is employed to distract from the actual exchange of consent, you know, when she actually tells this rapist to fuck off, that no, she is not interested, she does not want to have sex with him. But no, we deliberate on her thong, her skirt, her top, her sexual history and ignore the most important facts of the case – she said no.

Love/Hate 

Maybe I’m just an annual blogger. Maybe it’s just the whole rollercoaster of ‘the holiday season’ which pushes me to write. Maybe I’m just perpetually uninspired for the remaining 364 days of the year.

I guess you’re always meant to say something at this time of year – Merry Christmas and a happy new year. Or some shit like that. Some emotionally empty phrase which bears no resemblance to reality, which doesn’t represent the complex emotions that this season brings to many.

I used to love Christmas, I really did. But it’s so much easier to hate it, and in a way, I love to hate it. I love tearing down the Christmas decorations prematurely, stuffing them into a cardboard box and stowing them away for the next year when I will naively think again ‘maybe this year I will love Christmas’ only to find hatred much easier. I kind of love the chase: exerting such meticulous care in buying the perfect gifts, putting up a myriad of decorations and throwing myself into everything that is ‘Christmas’. Only for it not to feel like Christmas, to just feel like another day. 

It’s the resounding sense of normality that I hate. This time of year is meant to be special in some way that I just can’t retrace. 

The Curse of 2016

‘Next year will be better’ people proclaim as the last few days of the year which brought us Brexit, Trump and a plethora of dead celebrities, comes to an end. ‘Will’ as if the passage of time has an indefinite telos towards progression, towards ‘it must be better.’ 

‘It’ is the illustrative word towards a mindset where human agency is removed – better things WILL just happen if we throw around nonchalant remarks of betterment. I’ll wake up on the 1st of January and things WILL be better, simply because of time. Time is a futile, whimsical thing, so too is ‘willing’ things to happen without some course of action or a conscious decision rather than an entitled, presumptuous, statement. This arbitrary separation of time gives us an excuse and a scapegoat. ‘It’s been a bad day’ we say weekly, Monday is a ‘bad’ day, Friday a ‘good’ day, and the days in between sporadically flitter on a scale of good to bad. The personification of measures of time with negativity, or even positivity devoids life of the recognition of our free will – why was it a bad day? What did YOU do? Most of the time we resign ourselves to the ‘bad day’, give up in the hope that tomorrow will bring us something better. It becomes an excuse. It becomes a way to shroud our feelings in time-focused, arbitrary blame. Time becomes a scapegoat for our feelings, negativity and  positivity are attributed to the time of day, the month, the year and distort, hide, and mask the multitude of emotions and thoughts that are being felt by all humans in each moment. 

It wasn’t a bad day because it was ‘Monday’ – Monday is an abstract concept – it was a bad day because the two days of freedom we call the ‘weekend’ are over, you are unsatisfied with the measly two days off, you want to spend time with your family, you’re unhappy with your job, you are stressed, you are tired of the mundane cycle of time. When the umbrella of ‘Monday: the bad day’ collapses, we are confronted with rainfall; each drop symbolising an emotion, and the complexity of ‘a bad day’ is revealed.

If this deconstruction happens to a ‘bad day’ what about a year, and what about a ‘good’ day? A good day is mostly forgotten unless it is ‘the best day’, and when all these days are accumulated into a year, it is predominantly the worst, bad and best that stand out: negativity ultimately predominates in this language of time. 

I am not going to resign myself to blaming things on time, on using the sweeping statement of: ‘2016 was the worst year’ to define a moment of my life. Yes, I lost my dad, which is the worst thing that has ever happened to me, because I will not see him again in this life. But, I spent my last moments with him – there are happy memories intertwined with the pain. I am not going to define this year negatively, instead I am going to celebrate the achievements: I was successful in getting a promotion and I graduated with a 2:1. I have had over a year away from blogging, letting the negative events in the last year prevent me from producing what I enjoy. I am not going to look at time in days, months, years, but in the broader scale of life, which can end at any time. 

No More Page 3?

As this question arises, so too, do the primitive screams of a number of disappointed men deprived of their daily carnal pleasure. Because, obviously, it is very difficult to find a picture of the upper ventral region of a human woman, in order to delve into the lecherous enjoyment of the breast, areola and nipple which vitally acts as the home for the mammary gland which secretes milk for the sustenance of children, anywhere other than a daily newspaper- right?

For my despairing male counterparts (not all, obviously, have this stone-age attitude) there are many books that can be found where the breast of a woman can be oggled at daily. It just entails a library card and a familiarity with the science section of your local library. Just a pre-warning for the deprived carnal beast, the breast of the female may even be shown alongside that of a male with a clear anatomical description so that you can really understand the inner workings of a woman’s degraded ‘tits’. Maybe then you’ll realise that they are merely a larger (due to the production of oestrogen in women), mammary gland wielding, version of yours. Then maybe they don’t seem so sexy, so lustful, or erection provoking.

A woman’s breasts are certainly something to be honoured, in a way that only science does, and not debased and objectified by the eyes of the leering man on the tube, on a lunch break at work, or quite simply having a wank in his room. This is no infringement on freedom, there is no all imposing ban on such images, no law against it. There are just simply places and times when such a thing is much more lewd and derogatory, and hence, a daily paper is not the place for a pair of overly sexualised breasts as the whole concept itself should be nullified.

All I see in this primitive cry of men is fear- fear that one day the white male may not hold predominance over all. This is one step towards removing the male species from the epicentre of society; your pathetically construed arguments against something such as the ‘No More Page 3’ campaign just reiterates why this is essential.

And no, I’m not ugly, flat chested, overweight, or in any other way jealous of these women- before you ask.

Misogynist Comedy

I applaud the torrent of criticism that has eclipsed Dapper Laughs over the last few weeks. I question myself – how did such a ‘comedian’ even rise to profundity? It strikes me as abhorrent that any woman, especially, would condone his crude, invasive and outdated sense of ‘comedy’. I’ve seen articles attempt to ‘support’ Dapper Laughs: why, if he is so terrible does he have such a large following? Apparently, logic steers one to the conclusion that, us ‘haters’ of Dapper Laughs are wrong, and of course rape jokes have now actually become pretty funny – of course. Doesn’t logic actually assert, that rather a crime of sexual violence against a woman now becoming humorous, that actually Dapper Laughs’ following is just as deluded as him. Surely, if raping a woman is so hilarious, wouldn’t the development of this strain of comedy also pursue the hilarity of men being subject of rape too? But that’s when we reach the real problem. Joking about raping a woman is fine, but raping men, that’s a step too far, that’s not ‘comedy’. So why then is the image of women being subject to the forceful violation of rape something that a comedian can approach as a topic for a merely ‘controversial’ joke? How can a woman’s pain be trivialised in such a way?  Because she is a woman.

Who is the victim in all this? Is it not the women who are reminded of past encounters of sexual violence, who writhe with uncontrollable discomfort at even the mention of the term ‘rape’, who for them, such a ‘joke’ brings back vivid images of physical and mental invasion? But apparently it is Daniel O’Reilly who is the victim in all this. I can image how painful it must be to ‘retire’ such an abominable character, much worse than having someone viciously violate your whole person-hood for the sake of their momentary pleasure. Daniel O’Reilly’s jokes (let’s not pretend they’re not his despite the pitiful attempt at blaming it all on ‘character’) are an imitation of this – a violation to women, but for the momentary pleasure of who? -The audience? Him?

Watershed Rape

Rape. It doesn’t have a watershed.

The rapist doesn’t think ‘Oh, shit! It’s before 9, better not rape this victim’. So why should television portray it any differently. As if rape is only committed by a man, towards a woman, outside of the home, in the dead of night. Rape permeates domestic bliss, it permeates the sanctuary of family, so why shouldn’t it permeate your television screen before 9pm?

It shouldn’t. And it infuriates me that people persist in complaining about such scenes on T.V. As if their opinion matters; as if they have a right to complain. They don’t. There’s no way to portray rape discreetly, to make it accord to pre-watershed expectations. How can you make something corrupt and immoral conform to idyllic moral expectations? Life isn’t moral – it’s not ideal.