Friday, 13 October 2017

I’ve been Sexually Harassed. You Probably Have Too.

The Weinstein thing. It’s everywhere right now. Big (male) Hollywood Producer in casting couch shocker. The term originated there. I am GLAD it’s everywhere, but it’s about time. Finally more and more men who have abused their positions of power are being held accountable.

And it’s obviously creating a wave of emotion from people who have experienced sexual harassment. I’ve seen quite a few girls on Twitter who have felt “triggered” by the news events recently and have had to come off social media to preserve their mental health. Which completely makes sense, despite it being a desperately sad situation.

But then I realised. I’ve been sexually harassed. I’ve been sexually harassed loads in fact. And do you know why that fact has only just occurred to me? Because I’d always just dismissed it as expected behaviour from the environment I was in. I’ll expand.

I’ve have had my bum pinched by a male teacher, aged 9. Thought it was normal (actually I thought it was a bit weird but not enough to say anything to anyone).

I’ve had my bum patted so many times by so many different men that I can’t even remember numbers.

I’ve had my boobs grabbed, and felt up by strangers in bars, night clubs.

I’ve been forcefully kissed on the mouth by a man I was arguing with.

I’ve had my PUSSY grabbed at by a man in a disgusting pub in Canton, Cardiff. And when I protested this, of course I was called a frigid, lesbian bitch. The stock response. Again I've lost count of how many times I've been accused of either or both. 

I’ve never put up with it. I’ve ALWAYS called out whoever has done the grabbing, rubbing, touching. None of it was invited and where I was (in a club/bar) and what I was wearing (maybe a low cut top) NEVER meant I sanctioned being TOUCHED by a stranger. I’ve had many verbal fights with men and a lot of “almost” physical fights before being pulled away by my friends / boyfriend (who mostly got the stick for not controlling his “bitch”).

Now I am lucky. None of these events have traumatised me. They’ve stayed with me. They’ve hardened my determination to see that women get treated more equally in society. Inevitably they HAVE made me feel bitter and angry that we have to put up with being treated like bits of meat in a butchers shop. But I don’t bear the scars and for that I am grateful.

I am not alone though am I? I am willing to bet that most women who read this will also have, at some time in their lives, been on the receiving end of unwanted touching. Or behaviour that has made them feel uncomfortable… like wolf whistling (For which we must all respond graciously for fear of being told we were ugly / fat / disgusting in the first place).

But this is the thing. We’ve grown up expecting it. Even though MOST of us hate it, we know that we have to “just put up with it” because it’s just a bit of fun, isn’t it? It’s a compliment!

Does that seem like an “equal” society to you? That one sex can predominantly make the other sex feel uncomfortable? Of course there are plenty of instances where the tables are turned. Women groping men. I had a friend who would regularly grab men when she was drunk. They were visibly repulsed by it most of the time. Unsurprisingly. But I don’t condone that either. Of course not!

No one needs to touch ANYONE else, unless they are invited to. Lets stop acting like it’s OK.

PLEASE let this persuade you that we still need feminism! Having your bum pinched is a feminist issue! REPRESENT!!!!

Friday, 22 September 2017

Screen Time Revelations!

My husband and I have recently made a fascinating discovery about screen time. The result of which has been, quite frankly, life changing for us.
Since it’s become the norm to own a phone or tablet and more importantly, be glued to that device playing games or scrolling social media endlessly, there has been a lot of media attention focused on whether or not screen time is healthy for us. The blue light emitted from most hand held devices such as phones and tablets can inhibit sleep, for example. So there is plenty of readily available advice about the downside of not having to stare awkwardly into space, avoiding eye contact on public transport!
But. Did we, the Helicopters, as a family, HEED this advice? DID we? Did we heck.
Emlyn and I are as guilty as anyone of coming in from work, feeding and watering the kids, plonking them in front of the TV and then ignoring each other whilst we autonomously check our own newsfeeds in case something amazing has happening in the half hour since we last checked.
This is pretty shit parenting, granted. But I am sure we’re not alone. And I'm being glib here, obviously we’re not that bad….we don’t leave the TV to babysit for hours imprisoned into our own screen addiction. Also I think most people these days feel a bit of guilt about the amount of mindless phone scrolling they do.
With kids however, how do you know how much screen time is too much? Some kids will be naturally drawn to hand held devices. I know it can be a life saver for parents with kids on the autistic spectrum. Jodie from A First Time Valley Mam who’s son is on the scale says it helps him get to sleep every night.
Other kids will love the adrenaline buzz of playing games, watching funny videos or even just watching regular kids TV on them. This is great if you’re on long car journeys or in a doctors waiting room etc. It’s less great when you’re trying to get them out of the door for school or upstairs to brush their teeth for bed.
And then there’s the question about filters and parental controls… are they watching appropriate stuff? Are they chatting to weirdos? Eeek!
So what’s the answer? Well ….we’ve been a bit tardy to the screen-time-is-bad party. We have a 7 year old boy who’s a quite the regular to the “hand held device show” and a 3 year old girl who vaguely showed an interest in the iPad then got over it. However, we've just made a BIG stand with screen time and the results have been remarkable.
As I mentioned, we've been pretty lax with how much screen time our oldest has had. From the age of about 3 we’ve very lazily and let him take our phones (then later the iPad) to play on when he wakes up in the morning. This is because for years he woke between 5-6am everyday. It would enable us to have another half hour-hour asleep when he was younger and then a bit more time as he got older and more independent. But a young boy who’s had a good few hours on an iPad with no breakfast, is probably not going to be Mr Happy when we eventually roll our lazy butts out of bed. And yet it’s taken us years to realise this. I know, WTF is wrong with us?!
He's always been quite an angry kid but when his sister came along we put it down to jealousy. Then when he started school we thought it was tiredness. Things got particularly bad at the end of his last school term. He was permanently stroppy about everything. It was getting to the point where I thought we might have to get some professional anger management advice for him. I was gutted that he seemed so unhappy with his life and I felt like we really might need someone to help us work through whatever it was making him so frustrated.
I planned a trip to the doctor to discuss this and his issues with sleep. He’d stay up late (despite being in a proper wind-down bed routine since he was a baby) and still wake up at the crack of dawn. The day before I took him, I'd heard from a friend that she'd banned screen time with one of her sons who’d been sneaking off and watching YouTube. It had a huge impact on his behaviour. We'd been reluctant to try it really because we were cowards. We knew that the few times before when we had hidden the iPad in the mornings, he'd wake the whole house up at 5.30am singing or playing loudly.
That night though, we bit the bullet and gave him and out and out ban on all hand held screen time in the week and no longer than a handful of 10 mins intervals on the weekends. His behaviour DRASTICALLY improved. The doctor did give us some advice about sleep which has really helped too. The two things must be related. He’s currently not waking up super early and it can’t be a coincidence that he’s not allowed to race down stairs and get the iPad. He gets up and draws or plays with his lego. He doesn’t bellow the house down! Who knew?! I’m utterly gob smacked by the whole thing! Why the HECK didn’t we do this sooner?! I mean really?! What is WRONG with us!
Mornings are so SO much easier without him being stroppy and rude after being asked to put the iPad down. He's a different child. Not only has his mood improved, he's stopped being so horrible to his sister which is a bloody miracle. He spends his time either on the trampoline, writing stories, drawing or making stuff. It seems so completely obvious now…
It is still a bit of a battle sometimes. When he’s feeling tired and lazy, he’ll just want to sit down and zone out and he’ll beg to go on a phone or whatever. But we are standing firm. He’ll usually just settle for a film on the TV.
So my advice to you, at the end of this, is if you are having behaviour issues with your kids and you can’t work out why, maybe check how much screen time they get. Kids aren’t all the same but for some, it’s most definitely a perpetrator of doom! So perhaps it’s time to step away from the iPad….

Sunday, 17 September 2017

My Big Parenting Fail Weekend

A couple of months ago, I experienced an exceptionally bad PARENTING FAIL weekend. Yes weekend. I had an entire weekend of "WTF am I doing in charge of small children?!" I am going to share it with you right now. Get ready to get balls deep into the saga of the near-death / nitmaggedon / Beaver catastrophe. Here goes.

So firstly….on Friday I knew Gus had nits. Well I suspected. So I planned to treat him that evening. You know the rigmarole: sitting in the bath with the nit comb for HOURS, then slathering his head with horrid spray, leaving it for 15 mins and then trying to wash the bloody oily gunk out...btw if anyone has any hacks here…. PLEASE inform me… it’s like trying to clear an ocean size oil spill with a teaspoon of fairy liquid. I wasn’t looking forward to it.

I picked the kids up after school and Gus was having a friend over. On the way home we popped into the local Lidl with another friend of mine from school and her daughter. The kids had a ball in Lidl probably because I let them all choose a chocolate donut to eat whilst I was at the till. So they ran to the end and started shovelling their faces whilst I packed the rest of the shopping. Got to the till, opened my purse and there’s no bank card. Emlyn had taken it! I didn’t know what to do! I’d stuffed the buggy full of all the shopping already, the kids had virtually demolished the donuts… I was totally panicking. Then I remembered my friend was still in the shop, I asked the cashier (and the disgruntled queue) if I could try and find my friend, then I went haring around the aisles looking for her. Thank god she was still in the store! As soon as she saw me she reached for her card….she clearly knows what fucknut I am. What a friend! Drama one down.

We pay and head home. As we are walking towards the roundabout by our house we’re about to cross….I’ve got the buggy…the extra kid, Gus and Joni all holding hands…. I tell them to cross to the middle (meaning the island in the road)…. Which Gus at LEAST knows full well…. The kid leads them across the main road to the actual roundabout as I am screaming NOOOOOO! I am pushing the buggy and the shopping one way and they are wandering across the main road in the other direction, with cars coming at them! Christ on a bike...

Two cars stop (thankfully) in time, Joni is hysterical, the extra kid is looking scared stiff by my bellowing, Gus is oblivious that anything has gone wrong & bunch of teens behind are me shouting “woah” and “OMG”!!!!!! The kids were totally fine, if a bit shaken. I damn near shit myself! The cars let me go and rescue them but I was shaking like fuck. And this is no word of a lie, the boys had taken “Kerb craft” lessons that DAY and were both sporting the stickers to prove it. Kerb craft my arse!

Anyway the rest of the day was all fine. Kids had a lovely time together but by the time the extra kid had to go Gus was super tired so I decided to treat him the next day instead. One night won’t make a difference, eh?

So Saturday I had a friend and her kids over for the day. I’d run out time to do Gus’s hair in the morning before they came and I couldn’t face putting my brush through it knowing he *might* be infested… I mean, I STILL wasn’t 100% sure at this stage, K?! OK so it looked pretty messy but I didn’t think too much about it. (Yeah, I’m feeling that that is quite rank now but hindsight, guys...hindsight!)

In the afternoon he was going off with the kid from Friday again so off they went at about 3pm. I had a lovely day with my mate. She went after just after tea and Joni got taken upstairs to be nit checked. I was waiting for Gus to get home to do it….7.30pm and still no word from the extra kid’s mum. So I text… is 8pm OK to bring him home she says? Um OK! Bugger, that’s way late for nit checking.

But then. Oh god. Then they turn up, she comes into my kitchen raving about how amazing Gus has been and that her husband thinks she wants to adopt him (I am meanwhile stood with my arms folded because I’ve taken my bra off the evening and thought Emlyn would answer the door!)…she proceeds to chat and lets slip that she found a bug in Gus’s hair! I AM M O R T I F I E D. I splutter out that I was going to treat him that evening and how sorry I am to send her a nitty child but she just coolly goes on to explain that she found 27, yes TWENTY SEVEN more bugs….nit combed his whole head for over an hour THEN TREATED HIM, checked again, FOUND MORE (I am by now DYING of shame) and treated him AGAIN. As if it was the most normal thing in the world.

Holy shit.

Inside I was screaming. Honestly I didn’t know what to do or say….I profusely apologised and hugged her…. But she was so nonchalant about it! I thought nearly killing her kid was bad enough but this, this was so so bad. And I’d hugged her without a bra on...the trauma!

That had to be the end of the parenting fails though, right? It can’t get any worse...surely?

The next day….Gus wakes up at dawn’s crack and despite having had 2 great days of fun has a 3 hour tantrum about £5. At 8.15am, feeling blurry eyed and already defeated by the day I get a phone call from “Tic Tac” (the passive-aggressive Beavers leader for whom Beavers is LIFE). She was ringing to tell me that the coach probably won’t wait for Gus now…Oh SHIT! I had TOTALLY forgotten he was supposed to be on a day out with them which I have paid for! Even though it was in my diary. Even though I KNEW this information!!! My poor addled brain. If she’d rung 5 mins before we could have got him there! But no, he missed the trip. Maaaaasssive Mummy fail. I also didn’t dare tell Gus he’d missed out. Luckily he’d forgotten too but I just felt too bad.

Please tell me I am not alone…. Please tell me you have experienced similar levels of parenting fails? I feel like this weekend really earned me a trophy in the parenting fail hall of fame….

NB: I obviously bought the nit-warrior Mum a bottle of wine… it was the very least I could do.

Saturday, 9 September 2017

Kids Characters I want to Shag (Warning: contains graphic content)

Look, I know this is a pretty unoriginal observation. But yeah. When you’re stuck in front of kids TV for hours, breast-feeding, bottle-feeding, ironing, sorting the washing or just clinging onto consciousness for sheer life …..sometimes your loins start to stir. Don’t deny it. It’s one of the only perks of watching banal shit for hours on end, day in & day out. Fantasising about kids characters you wouldn’t kick out of bed. And if you’re like me, you’re also dissecting their techniques. Now this is a game all sexualities can play. I am a lady who likes men so mine are all male. I can’t, ahem, confirm that they are all HUMAN form but in fantasyland I don’t *think* it’s classed as bestiality. But if you are a lady who likes ladies or a man who likes mens, then I sure there are characters out there who fill your sexual boots too.

Here’s my list (in no particular order except the first one)

1) Mr Bloom. I AM OBSESSED BY HIM. I don’t even know if he’s still on Cbeebies but 'ecky thump….he gives me a wide on. (don’t click that link, those that are easily offended). I’m not even that into blonds normally. But he does something to me that makes my jaw go slack. I think it’s his cheeky “pretend” Manchester swagger, kindly “Northern” accent and the way he’s so nurturing to his veggies. Honestly when sings “My, haven’t YOU grooown”… there’s a slug trail situation on my sofa. He really REALLY gives me the horn. This illusion was shattered slightly when I saw him being interviewed about the Cbeebies Xmas panto. In real life he’s a bit of a stage school lovey. Sad times. A little reminiscent of Ollie Plimsolls from League of Gentlemen. (Put yourself into a child!) It’s true what they say, never meet your heroes.

2) Disney’s Robin Hood. This is where it all started for me. At the ripe old age
of (no word of a lie….) 6. I saw Robin Hood with that gorgeous, charismatic fox...and my destiny as a dirty old horn-bag was laid bare before me. I was smitten. He made me feel weird things in my tummy! I literally felt a bit sick when I thought about him and I would obsessively draw pictures of him everywhere. However having just had a quick squiz on YouTube for a clip to embed (oh sorry, I am breaking the fourth wall!) I’ve realised with slight horror that he sounds nothing like I remembered. I had a weird crush on a man who sounds like my grandfather. Oh god. Don’t. MOVING ON!

3) Marty from Madagascar. This is a weird one. It’s arisen because I’ve had to endure a bloody Madagascar 1, 2 & 3 marathon for the last 2 days. Chris Rock is funny as fuck. No doubt. And men who make me laugh are generally the ones I want to shag senseless. But his character in this film ISN’T sexy. He’s like a child! But a man child. So even though I am uncomfortable with myself for this, I am pretty sure in human terms a 10 yr old Zebra would be at LEAST 21...right? RIGHT??? I think my brain just shook my vagina awake from sheer boredom, to be honest.

4) Dangermouse. I thought he was SO cool. He reminded me of my super cool best mate Matthew Steel (who I also crushed on for my entire childhood). He was sarcastic and funny and brilliant. As an adult…discovering he was voiced by David Jason… oh dear. Delboy HELL NO.

5) Elvis from Fireman Sam. HEAR ME OUT…. Look I know he’s fucking idiot….but he can move! He’s got Elvis’s snake hips! I know Elvis was a hideous old, burger snaffling racist but Fireman Sam’s Elvis is a sweet, dopey, fuck boy. He can hold his hose over me anytime he likes. 

6) Kristoff from Frozen. This is a more obvious one. But I like how flipping grumpy and misanthropic he is. Also he’s big and rough. I think he’d show you a good time, rogering you silly on top of the hay bales. Sven has to wait outside though, K? Reindeer maybe better than people but I am not into performance art.

7) Victor from Thomas & Friends. OK so I’ve saved the weirdest til last. I want to fuck a train. There I said it. An elderly train as well. But he’s got a very sexy Cuban accent. And he’s so sweet. He’s got a total fuckwit as a side kick called Kevin and all he ever does is be patient and kind to him. I think he’d be a tender lover.

Obviously there are ten thousand kids characters you wouldn’t wanna touch with a barge pole...amirite? I mean I don’t even really need to mention the sex-less Mr Tumble, Mister Maker and weird-hairline Andy from Cbeebies. Then there’s others like Ryder from Paw Patrol. You know he’d be two pumps and a squirt with a red-faced apology. And Postman Pat...the fuck is his look about? He looks like a granny with his fuzzy hair and glasses. Although he HAS got an interesting shaped nose…..

That nose tho...

OK I think I better leave it there. So. There you go. My list of kids tv characters I’d like to shag. Now don’t say I am alone. Fill my comments box with your own lustful list please!

Sunday, 3 September 2017

The Cheese Tag™

The cheese tag. A Mrs Helicopter production for all those for whom CHEESE IS LIFE.

Rules: Copy and paste the questions below. Answer them on your blog, link back to the person who tagged you, link back to ME because I am the cheese tag mastermind! And then tag 3-5 cheese lovers you know to join in the fun. After that tweet it out, tweet your tagees tweet me @jesshelicopter and I shall RT you too! And I want to read everyone’s answers too, it’s not just because I am an internet megalomaniac. (I am)

Hooray! Let’s begin cheese fans!!!!!

1) What is your favourite cheese and why?

2) List your top 3 and describe them.

3) Did you like cheese as a kid?

4) Is there a cheese you don’t like? Why?

5) Any bad experiences with cheese?

6) Do you associate a particular cheese with a specific event? List all!

7) What is your favourite food to accompany your cheese?

8) What is your favourite beverage to accompany your cheese?

9) What is your favourite way to eat cheese as an ingredient? Eg pizza, macaroni cheese, mash. Whatevs.

10) If you could only eat either cheese or chocolate for the rest of your life, which would you choose?

11) Have you ever experienced cheese sweats? (you’ve had too much cheese)

12) Do your children and / or pets like cheese?

13) What’s your favourite cheesy film?

14) What’s your favourite cheesy song?

15) Ultimate test: If you were offered a million pounds in cold, hard cash to give up cheese for the rest of your life, would you do it?

That’s it! Get answering and tagging!!!!

My Answers:

1) What is your favourite cheese and why? Toughie. Goat’s cheese chevré. I love the dirtiness of the after taste contrasted with the creamy / crumbly texture. And the rind. It has it all.

2) List your top 3 and describe them. Not including goat’s cheese then: Dolcelatte ….blue cheese, very soft, mild and very creamy; Manchego, dry but creamy; Epoisse, stinky to hell but lush.

3) Did you like cheese as a kid? Yes. Loved it.

4) Is there a cheese you don’t like? No. Well I can think of a rude answer but I'll stick with no. Why? Because I have respect for my readers….

5) Any bad experiences with cheese? I found a piece of sweetcorn in a cheese and mayo sandwich my mum made when I was in primary school and I’ve never been able to have those sandwiches ever again. It’s not as if I don’t like sweetcorn. The unexpectedness of it’s presence has marred me for life.

6) Do you associate a particular cheese with a specific event? List all! But of course! For my wedding day we had a wedding cake made entirely from tiers of different welsh cheeses. Christmas is of course Stilton time but sometimes I’ll order a Vacherin Mont D’or from Madame Fromage. DIVINE, darling!

My wedding "cake" of cheeses.

7) What is your favourite food to accompany your cheese? If it’s cheddar then always kalamata olives, oat cakes and sliced fresh beef tomatoes. Any other cheese, oat cakes. Fresh tomato doesn’t always work with stronger cheeses like Camembert. Maybe cucumber? I’m not into fruit and cheese though. Apple at a push. No grapes though, K?

8) What is your favourite beverage to accompany your cheese? Shiraz...but of course. But to be honest, I am happy with no drink.

9) What is your favourite way to eat cheese as an ingredient? Eg pizza, macaroni cheese, mash. Whatevs. Penne Dolcelatte! Yummers! Basically Dolcelatte melted in cream, some shredded sage & black pepper tossed up with penne pasta.

10) If you could only eat either cheese or chocolate for the rest of your life, which would you choose? Cheese. OBVS.

11) Have you ever experienced cheese sweats? (you’ve had too much cheese) Every Christmas and probably many occasions in between.

12) Do your children and / or pets like cheese? Joni isn’t a fan but she’s 3. There’s time. Gus has only just come around to it. And one of my cats loves cheese more than fresh fish. But she doesn’t get more than a tiny nibble very occasionally. It’s not good for her.

13) What’s your favourite cheesy film? OK don’t kill me. Love, Actually. The Emma Thompson story line kills me. And I love Joni Mitchell. And I want that necklace. But as I rule I despise Richard Curtis and all his white-washed, middle class twee films.

14) What’s your favourite cheesy song? Yes Sir, I can Boogie by Baccara. I’m not embarrassed by this.

15) Ultimate test: If you were offered a million pounds in cold, hard cash to give up cheese for the rest of your life, would you do it? HELL to the NO. And I am deadly serious.
Vacherin Mont D'or

I tag:

Thursday, 24 August 2017

Festival Mama vs Sofa Mama

Festival Season is well and truly upon us. And I’m seeing loads of pics on social media from friends who’ve come back from Green Man and Camp Bestival and all sorts of other outdoorsy musical events and I must say, I’m a little bit envious. That’ will NEVER be me and my kids.

Big Day Out, Melbourne 2006
As a teenager, I absolutely LOVED a festival. I can honestly say that bunking off school at 17 and going to Glastonbury in the back of a battered old van with the local crusties was one of the definitive moments of my life. I didn’t think I could be any happier than when I was at that festival, surrounded by fellow drunken / high “alternative types”. Of course, in 1993 it was actually still hot and sunny during summer so this was long before the bog-fest of later years. It was all incense, tie dye, tassels, sun-scorched grass, stone circles, crazy dancing, jamming on guitars with strangers, delicious smelling food stalls and warm beer in plastic beakers. I’d see hippy mamas with babies strapped to their bodies with colourful scarves and dirty kids with beads in their matted hair and think “that’s going to be me!”. I was ALWAYS going to be a festival mama.

But skip forward to actual parenthood 24 years later. That fantasy will never covert to reality. It’s one thing to fall unconscious,fully clothed into your tent every night, not wash for 5 days and drink your way through all the hangovers when you're (very) young, free and single. As a mother of 2 young kids, those are options that are no longer available to me. No. Now my fantasy is very much….my sofa. At a push, with the patio doors open if the weather is clement enough. So, I thought I’d compile a list of pros and cons to make myself feel better about the fact that I will probably never see the Pyramid Stage in real life again….

Festival: Live - Brilliant, varied, loud.
Sofa: Spotify or 6 Music – Repetitive, dull, quiet.                               
Festival wins!

Festival: Amazing, feel good, inspiring, creative, exciting.
Sofa: Very much dependant of behaviour of children. On average, angry. 
Festival wins!                                                                             

Festival: Delicious, varied, imaginative, good veggie choices. Very overpriced.
Sofa: Cheap, convenient, somewhat dull.
Tiebreak! (Festival can’t win because it’s still too much money. Sofa can’t win because it’s not that exciting)                                                                               

Festival: Wild, crazy, lots of it.                                 
Sofa: Little to none. (A few jiggles with small girl when guilted into it)
Festival wins!

Festival: Either with friends or you make friends (especially if you’re drunk and in a long queue). Lots of IRL socialising.
Sofa:  Social Media. Fellow parents who come over for coffee or wine.

Festival: Whatever you’ve managed to sneak in (can you even sneak stuff in these days?!) Overpriced lager or “craft beers”.
Sofa: Your favourite drink, from the cheapest place you can find it, bought in bulk and consumed in bulk.
Sofa wins!

Festival: Kids by your side at ALL times including bedtime and going to the loo.                                              
Sofa:  Free time when you sneak off for a poo, free time when you inevitably send them to their room/naughty step, free time when they voluntarily go off to play, free time when they are in bed, free time if you’ve organised a rare night out with other adults.
Sofa Wins!

Festival: Little to none. If you’re not staying up late ill-advisedly partying with other foolish parents, you’re trying to sleep through the pounding music, other people’s fun and drunkenness, your kids not being able to sleep, other kids not being able to sleep and everyone waking with cricked necks and rocks in their backs at 5am.
Sofa: As good as it will ever get….which is still better than festival sleeping.
Sofa wins!

Festival: Hell on earth. See previous lack of sleep, mix with noise, dirt, strong smells, no where to lie down and cry. 
Sofa: Cushions, blankets, being able to parent from one place whilst lying flat on your back with all the pop and crisps.
Sofa wins!                                                                                                          

Festival: However posh your festival is…you’re basically either on a plastic chair or a rug on the floor all day. If not on your feet for hours. (I once stood for 7 hours at a festival in Dublin without moving because the crowd was so dense)
Sofa: This one is a no brainer.
Sofa wins!

Festival: Tickets, camping, petrol, food, drink, extra kids activities…it’s EXPENSIVE.                                                            
Sofa: Free.
Sofa wins!

Festival: Now things may have moved on from the 90s but my feeling is that even if there are porta-showers rather than weird wooden huts and trickles of water that you queued hours for, or taps you put your head under….it’s not going to be great. I imagine mainly baby wipes and anti bac. No thanks.
Sofa: Bath or shower whenever I WANT!
Sofa wins!

Festival: I mean, I don’t even really need to say anything here do I? I’ve seen some very, very bad things in festival portaloos. Those images will never leave me and to be honest, I’m not sure if I’d have coped if I hadn’t had therapy.
Sofa wins!

So as you can see, sofa has categorically won the battle. I will not be attending any outdoors events in the near future. I like my loos clean, and my bed soft. Hippy Mama is not my destiny. 

Tuesday, 22 August 2017

Are you a Toxic Slut-Shamer?

Pop Quiz: Are you a toxic slut-shamer or not?

You walk into a restaurant and you notice a slender woman in a super low cut top, short skirt and smooth legs up to her armpits. Do you think:

a)   Woah, she’s hot!
b)   Woah, she’s brave!
c)   Woah, wish I had those… (whatever)
d)   Eeeew, put it away love!
e)   I wonder what the specials are today?

I will confess. Up until not long ago, I would have probably thought a combination of  a) c) and…. shamefully… d). Yes I would have been a bit grossed out by all the sexiness on display. I was definitely a toxic slut-shamer. I quite clearly remember expressing disgust at picture of Jane Goldman at some awards thing and the words “cow’s udders” being muttered (from my own lips…). I’m hugely embarrassed by this now though. I suck. But I’m woke!

My only defence is that there is a deeply ingrained whore-hatred in our society. We are taught either directly (by religion) or indirectly (the media) to believe that women wearing skimpy clothes equals “ho” behaviour. It’s a dusty old hangover from previous historical and heavily religious periods where chastity is seen as pure. But, of course, only for WOMEN! The fetishization of the “virgin” is well known….again just those lady virgin types though please! Not interested in the men ones!

Can we just point out here, that there wouldn’t be any virgins TO sacrifice if it hadn’t been for the woman happy to be defiled (after marriage of course!)? I mean, ok at least some of those chaste virgins would have been conceived through consensual sex that the woman enjoyed just as much as the men, right?!

The weird hypocrisy of it all!

It’s hard to extricate yourself from the mind-set of a society whose foundations were built on strict Christian, white male beliefs. Where they decided what was and wasn’t “appropriate” for a women’s behaviour, desires and dress code. And even though, as a whole, people are much more liberal than their stricter predecessors, there are definitely still varying levels of what people will feel comfortable with in terms of what women should wear in public.

But the reality is, in 2017…it’s abhorrent for any person to judge another person on what they are wearing. WHATEVER they are wearing. If you are a lady person and want to walk around in a bikini, Stetson and wellies….go for it! You should have the choice to wear what you want! And don’t even get me started on whether or not that person is within her “healthy weight range”.

Also I can see that there could be a perception that the male gaze is a problem here. We don’t live in a vacuum where the only people viewing our bodies are the same like-minded, liberal, cisgendered women (i.e. people with female sex organs who identify as women as opposed to transgendered). We are being viewed by all….men, women and children. So by dressing like a *ho are we not just sustaining the ideology of woman as object for man to “gaze” (or wank) over? Well…yes kind of but also no. The difference here is CHOOSING what we want to wear. There is CHOICE. We are actively deciding to wear skimpy clothes so we are transformed from passive object to autonomous subject…"I want to get my wabs out today and no one is going to stop me. They’re great and I need to share them with the world!”

Society been led to believe that certain things are “sexy”…. Big perky boobs, full lips, slim long legs, bouncing bum etc. You can’t escape that. But does that mean that you can never enjoy sex or enjoy your own sexuality? You must remain a repressed, chaste lady for fear of being called a slag? Hell to the NO!

You have to reclaim your body. Just as some of us have reclaimed the terms “bitches” and “hos” from being slurs to being our own terms of playful affection; just as gay guys reclaimed the word queer for themselves; just as some people of African descent reclaimed the n word. We (cis gendered women) can reclaim our bodies too. Meaning that if we chose to dress like what society deems as “whore-pie” ….then that’s up to us and no judgement should be forthcoming. We should even free the nip without fear of reprisal. WE didn’t sexualise our own nips! Men did!

Another more serious note here. Slut-shamers are to blame for keeping rape culture alive. People who judge women on their clothing choices are sending a message that women who dress a certain way are “asking for the wrong kind of attention”. Let me just shut down that shower of shit right now. No. However a woman / girl / lady dresses is NOT ONE BIT RELEVANT to whether or not she should be heckled, touched, abused or raped.

There was a link about drunken people at a horseracing event from some red top on Facebook not long ago and the comment thread was shocking. Almost ALL of the comments were about the gratuitous up-skirt shots of drunken girls. From people who I’d previously thought as open-minded. These girls apparently “shouldn’t get that drunk in public”…. “Weren’t they ashamed having their knickers on display???” Nothing about the men lying in heaps with puke down their shirts….nothing about the fact that most of the women seemed to be having a right laugh. The comments made me feel truly sad.

The world is full of judgemental imbeciles….and I was very much one of those. I’m grossed out by own judgeyness but even more so because (fess up number 2)…. it was so unbelievably hypocritical ….in my youth and slimmer days, I would quite often wear extremely low cut tops and push up bras…. I loved getting my “girls” out. Was I insecure? Or did I just love showing off? Or was I just expressing my total and utter right to do so? What do YOU think?

Lots of love, the reformed, hypocritical slut-shamer.

*it’s ok…I’ve reclaimed this word. 😉 
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