Thursday, 27 January 2011

HAVE LIBRARY CARD, WILL TRAVEL...


 There are terrible things afoot. Ghastly things that chill me to my very soul and threaten the very fabric of our society because there are plans to close local libraries in their droves. Since we're all in it together according to the Tories, even books need to make sacrifices to help the deficit...

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

LEGAL AID, NOT JUST A BAND AID...

Amongst the many many sweeping cuts to spending in the UK under the deficit fever that is afflicting our not entirely elected overlords, the decimation of legal aid hasn't received as much attention as it really should with the impact it will have on personal cases and on the concept of justice in our society.


This is probably because like many things, few people think about how important access to the legal system is until they need it personally and obviously no one likes to imagine a situation in their life when they are desperate, vulnerable and in need. I certainly didn't and yet I have had need for a legal aid solicitor more than once in my life.

Saturday, 8 January 2011

ARGUING WITH NAOMI WOLF...


Since writing my most recent blog post about the Naomi Wolf anonymity debate there has been no cooling in the feminist furore her Guardian article started, particularly online. Twitter has produced a spoof commenter NaomifuckinWolf who is a 'rape apologist, feminist troll' and tweets horribly precient, yet darkly funny bon mots about the subject of rape and rape culture. Twitter also alerted me to the fact that Naomi herself would be appearing on the BBC World Service programme World Have Your Say on Friday 7th January* and that you could leave questions or comments on their webpage. Conscious of repeating myself across the entire internet, I cheekily left the blog link instead of a specially written comment, as I think the blog post said everything I wanted to convey. A couple of hours later, checking my email to see what Groupon were offering today, I received an email from the BBC asking if I would like to debate the subject with Naomi Wolf live on air at 6pm?



Thursday, 6 January 2011

THE INVISIBLE WOMAN...



Occasionally you read or hear something so egregiously awful and wilfully ignorant it makes your mouth drop open and your rage glands fully engage. Normally it goes away when you stop reading the Daily Mail, but this time this result came from reading an article in the Guardian by Naomi Wolf where she suggested that the women who alleged Julian Assange raped them should have their anonymity recinded as should all other rape victims who report.

Bearing in mind Naomi Wolf has long since been seen as an Alpha female in the world of feminism, this is quite a statement to make. I'm used to right wingers like Melanie Philips or Men's Rights Advocates spouting this kind of stuff, but I am surprised to hear it from the woman who wrote the seminal The Beauty Myth.

Ms Wolf thinks that anonymity for rape victims (or as she incorrectly calls them, women) is a Victorian hangover that is completely unnecessary in this more enlighted era where being a rape victim is so much easier and without stigma, and that this level of protection is actually a big pile of paternalistic nonsense that is making it harder for people to report rape. There are so many glaring holes in her reasoning you could use the article as a doily...

NEW YEAR, NEW YOU?


The New Year is upon us and so is the annual burst of soul searching and introspection that traditionally accompanies the 1st of January. I find literal 'Resolutions' somewhat tricky to stick to, thanks to the air of wholesome sanctimony and enforced keen-ness that surrounds them, so I have given them up as a concept, but I do intend to introduce changes and developments into my life in 2011, as and when I feel ready for them.

As I have mentioned here before, I gave up smoking last January. It genuinely wasn't a resolution and I didn't even start to try stopping until the New Year was about 3 weeks old. I intended to see how long I could go without buying a packet of cigarettes and somehow in the intervening year, I not only managed this, I also forgot why I ever bought them in the first place. This life change fitted my mind set as I was still in the throes of some very intense therapy at the time and everything was about change and self improvement. I like to think that instead of dropping too much therapy speak into day to day conversation, my new and improved self came out in giving up smoking and smelling much nicer...


Buoyed by managing to get my PTSD fairly under control and giving up the evil weed, I also managed to give up my phenomenal Diet Coke habit going from roughly 2 litres of the brown stuff a day to more like one can a month. This came about in September which with its associations with the new school year is just as much about change to me as January is so seemed an apt to time to do something I was dreading. I actually found kicking Diet Coke much harder than the cigarettes, suffering the kind of cravings that made me want to punch someone (probably myself as distraction!) for several weeks. I eyed up those lovely silver cans in the shop and dreamed about bubbly brown goodness on my tongue, but refused to have the stuff in the house for about a month. When I finally decided to treat myself to a can while out with a friend, I couldn't believe how artifical and unpleasant it now tasted. I'd have felt cheated if I didn't also feel about a million times better for cutting out heavy amounts of caffeine.


Now that my lungs and bones are no longer under daily attack from my various bad habits, I think it might be time to start addressing the many many body issues I have. A combination of ill health, assault, weight gain and getting older have left me wracked with body loathing and extremely uncomfortable in my own skin. I feel that my my body has constantly let me down over my life time and its physical and mental failings make it impossible to have any pride in it. Add in the fact that just after I was raped for the second time I began to gain weight and developed a much more ample cleavage, going up around two dress sizes and five cup sizes in six months at a time when my body was being treated as a crime scene and it probably isn't a surprise to hear that I find the idea of anyone looking at or noticing my body makes me incredibly and horribly self conscious. This desire to be invisible is definitely helping keep my agoraphobia alive and kicking so it's imperative that I tackle some of these body related problems.


I'm just not quite sure where to start. Exercise seems like a good place, but having been someone who has always shunned physical exertion in favour of sitting quietly with a book, I haven't got the faintest idea how to go about getting fitter without overdoing it, injuring myself or making myself feel like a failure if I don't do it right. I also find it difficult to separate the concept of exercise for health from exercising to make yourself as thin as possible. (I blame growing up in the 90s, mainlining copies of Vogue and watching Ally McBeal...) But I think I've finally realised exercise has many other benefits and I'm in a place to give getting sweaty and out of breath a go, even if the thought of it also fills with with horror.


Considering that I'm gruesomely unfit, I anticipate that I will have very sore legs very soon and will need to to sit down quietly in between bouts of exertion, which gives me an excuse to get cracking on some better reading this year. I read a lot, but frankly most of it is bollocks and better suited to being bought at an airport than a decent bookshop. This leaves me with a reputation for being bookish, but unable to converse with anyone about literature unless they also favour brutal serial killer novels and gritty police procedurals. I aim to try reading a mixture of mindless and make me think books this year and have a particular desire for some historical works and some of the Mitford sisters' works...

Maybe reading about well dressed gels about town will inspire me to be less of a boring dresser by the end of the year? I used to have great style, wear fabulous colours and not look like I'm wearing a uniform at all times and I'd like to go back to that, but being unhappy with my body, being able to blend in thanks to all the black clothes and broke means I've become very blah with my wardrobe, rarely wearing heels, skirts or dresses anymore. I need a bit of a shake up before I bore myself into frumpdom. Maybe if I can get it all together you'll see my knees by next November?