Thoughts on Britain’s Exit from the EU

My Original Statement:

“England is a cesspool of unintelligent, degenerate, racist, sexist, selfish, self-centred arseholes”

It’s difficult for me to be coherent at this time, but I need to speak about it. I had my doubts after the last UK election.13522790_10154301366192520_8119542822669675805_o People voted for a government that wants to get rid of the NHS, sell off public housing, remove help for those in the most need while lowering taxes for the rich. It’s disgusting that the poorest and least intelligent of us have been fooled into voting for people who don’t have their best interests at heart and who don’t represent them in the slightest.

But obviously people don’t care who represents them- fewer people showed up to vote for our government than for this referendum. More people are concerned with getting rid of all those immigrants than with the people who can negotiate fewer migrants being granted access to this country. EU referendum turnout was 72.2%.

So why? Why are the people of this country so much more concerned with immigration than with its own government? I can’t speak for all people, but to me it seems there are a few reasons.  Below is an image from the Guardian about the demographics of voters.Screen Shot 2016-06-24 at 09.52.21.png

Having looked over this graphic, it seems that the people who voted leave are less wealthy, uneducated, older, working class people. The people who have less to lose (because they already have less) voted to leave. I believe their vote was based on emotion and personal circumstance rather than what is best for future generations and the country as a whole. These people clearly feel threatened by change, worried about their jobs, their homes and their culture. These are all perfectly valid fears, these issues affect them just as they affect us all, and of course it’s entirely understandable.

Leaving the EU solves none of those problems, so why did they vote for it? In leaving the EU, we have less access to jobs and a skilled labour force, we have a diminished pound, we have lost any political influence we had and our global standing is now shaky,we lose the protection of EU laws when our government tries to infringe on our human rights,  we’ll have increased tax on us from our biggest trade partner, and it won’t get rid of all the brown faces people are so afraid of.

The media and Nigel Farrage have convinced people that leaving the EU will slow down  immigration helping ‘get our jobs back’, stopping immigrants scrounging off the state keeping the money we’re sending off to Europe each week. Cls4mWJXIAAH4ts.jpg-large Countless times I’ve heard these arguments, and each time I’ve been infuriated. How, how, HOW IN THE WORLD CAN YOU BE SCROUNGING OFF THE STATE, CLAIMING JOB SEEKERS OR ANY OTHER KIND OF BENEFIT, WHEN YOU ARE ALSO STEALING ENGLISH JOBS????? The media has been spinning two conflicting stories, using fear and xenophobia to blind people into hate and mistrust. People are emotional, illogical, and often vote based on ‘how this vote will affect me‘ rather than everybody else they share this nation with.

Part of the problem is a growing resentment of politicians. As I said earlier, our politicians are not representative of us, people don’t trust what they say, and when they tell us who we should be voting for, the biggest middle finger the people can give is the opposite of what they want. Here is a video of Nigel Farrage doing exactly politicians have been doing since the dawn of time- back tracking and being dishonest.

A protest vote is the most selfish and pointless thing voters can do. It ‘sends a message’ but that message will drown us.  We have now lost our Prime Minister. Cameron promised a referendum as part of his election campaign in order that he win the vote. This was his mistake, and now he’s stepping down. I believe (as I have done throughout this campaign) that this should never have been a matter up for the public vote. We as citizens do not negotiate with other nations, we do not know what goes on behind closed doors, we do not take part in discussions or make our own alliances. We elect a government to do that for us. A government with politicians who understand the complexities of negotiations, a government that can act with the broader picture in mind. As citizens with so much at stake personally, with no insight into what goes on in those meetings, we cannot be trusted to make these decisions. Now the man who has handed this sentence down on us is stepping down from his post.

For me this is hugely disappointing. Not only has be been a terrible Prime Minister for my generation, he has now brought about this enormous change and uncertainty for our country and is jumping ship with no consequences (losing his job is not a consequence when he is already a millionaire). We are now faced with the prospect of Boris Johnson representing us. A person nobody has voted for and a person whose party a majority of people did not vote for.

This is a nation divided, and this result will divide us even more. Does anybody really think that Nicola Sturgeon won’t use this as an opportunity for another Scottish referendum? Northern Ireland also voted to remain. This could mean the end of the UK as we know it.Screen Shot 2016-06-24 at 09.37.00

Update: Just announced, Nicola Sturgeon is seeking another Scottish referendum

I feel saddened that am actually ashamed of my fellow citizens. It feels as though this vote has been based on xenophobia and racism. I feel gutted that I am in a minority in a country I love, a minority that cares deeply about culture, and acceptance, and strives for openness, tolerance and peace.

At the beginning of this post, anger was making me write. Now I’m resigned. We have no idea how this will affect us in the long run, we have no ida what is going to happen and this uncertainty will continue for the rest of the year at least. It looks as though Jeremy Corbyn will be outed, we have no Prime Minister, we will lose Scotland, we have less of a  voice in global politics. I genuinely feel that there is no hope.

 

Edit: I have updated this post many times, because my initial reactions are fading and I’m a lot more calm than I was when I first started writing it. My words at the beginning are notably more harsh than my feelings at the end. To clarify: While I do believe that there was a lot of unintelligent voting, and I do blame these people for how shaky everything is going to become (and part of me is still raging), I understand that they have a different life to me, a different upbringing, different experiences which I will never fully comprehend. I bear only the smallest amount of hostility towards leave voters- they’re just as screwed as we are now, and they will also have that awful feeling of knowing they did it to themselves.

 

 

 

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Happy Pride Day!

Happy London Pride Day!I took this at Southbank a couple of days ago and thought today was the perfect day to post it. I’m so happy about this landmark ruling about allowing gay couples to marry in the US. It’s a great step forward for equality and it’s been a long time coming! I hope one day, my children will find it crazy that I was alive when this happened because it is so normal to them. Hope everyone has a great Pride Day!

 

 

I Love My Body

Controversial right?

I grew up with my beautiful mother always telling me beautiful I was. I was somewhat in awe of her- being only 23 when I was born, she was young and cool and I had no reason not to believe her.

I made it all the way to year 8 (age 12) before I stopped to consider that perhaps I was not as pretty as I had always known I was. I went to a boarding school, utterly different from anything I’d experienced and my two closest friends had started talking about their diet. I knew what a diet was, but I knew I didn’t need one- people were always telling me how thin I was. Those two girls once asked me what I didn’t like about my body and my reply (which once ashamed me and now I am so proud of my young self) was ‘Nothing. I like my body’.

That is not to say that I thought I was the most beautiful girl in the world, I just was happy with what I had. I definitely did have imperfections and insecurities. I spent a few years from the age of eight covering my knobbly knees when I wore skirts, and at the age of ten I grew two inches in two months and acquired a zebra striping of stretch marks on my bum and thighs. I knew I wasn’t perfect, but those imperfections didn’t make me dislike my body. To me, they were just there, parts of my body that were unchangeable and that I was happy to live with because that was the way I was.

My friends told me that this was really narcissistic and full of myself. They were pretty mean about it, telling me that of course there was at least something wrong with me and that I must think a lot of myself if I didn’t think I had any problems. Of course I did, but they were unimportant to me- I would rather worry about how to pass my flute exam, or understanding the book we were reading in class. So I stopped eating, and dieted and obsessed about the gym because I didn’t want to be narcissistic, and I didn’t want my friends to think I was a bad person. I pretended to be unhappy with my body until I eventually was. I lost all self confidence and stayed that way.

I am now 21. My weight has fluctuated over the last 3 years, at one point last year reaching 10 stone, somewhere I never thought I’d be. I truly began to hate my body. I hated that spare tire, the cellulite on my legs, the fat in my arms. I gained some new stretch marks on my muffin top, bright angry red ones that are visible over my jeans. I saw those and despaired. They looked horrible, how could I get rid of them? I spent so much money on Bio Oil that didn’t work and so much time frantically rubbing my skin to remove them, that also didn’t work. I was fat, stretch marked and unhappy.

So how did I get back here, loving myself, in a few short months? I love the freckle on my collar bone. I love the ringlets my hair forms. I love the shape of my boobs and the size of my toes. I think I have perfect lips and a nice nose. What I’m saying is, I began to focus on the things I love and accept my body the way it is, loving the good and the bad. Yes, I am losing weight and happy about it, but we don’t need to lose weight to love ourselves. I am allowing the good things to lift me up higher than my insecurities are dragging me down. I focus on the good things because they are good. I’m not going to pretend to be modest and unhappy about them in order to make other people happy. Women are allowed to love themselves and be happy in the skin they inhabit. Sure, we all have things that maybe we’d change or that aren’t our favourite parts, but we’re allowed to celebrate the good and love ourselves regardless of what anyone else thinks.

 

P.S I hope I didn’t come off a bit Samantha Brick here..

 

Why Band Aid 30 Is Sickening

I’d always loved the classic ‘Do They Know It’s Christmas?‘ as a child- it was on constant repeat (like the rest of the ageing classics) throughout my (Christmastime) childhood. But when I really listened to the lyrics of Band Aid 1984 at fifteen, I was appalled- Why would Africans care if they didn’t have snow? Why would I thank God that someone else was suffering instead of me? The picture of Africa that was painted then shocked me- a desolate, depressing, poor, barren land with their only luxury being life- and this outdated, backwards song was still playing on the radio in 2010.

And now, in 2014, Bob Geldof has decided (again) to recreate the song that has such a damaging presentation of Africa in aid of Ebola- which has killed around 5000 people since the beginning of the year.

The opening of the video shows two people in full body suits entering a dirty room with an emaciated woman lying half naked on a filthy mattress. They lift her by her hands and feet and carry her to the waiting wheeled table. Cut to scenes of smug celebrities smiling and walking cheerfully into a studio as photographers clamour to get their pictures. Some of them are even posing.

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These first thirty seconds set the tone for a sickening display of celebrity culture and shallowness. That poor, dying woman has been stripped of her dignity and now represents poor, dirty Africa, probably against her will. I can’t find anything about it- did she at least benefit from the video in any way?

(I don’t think she did. Thanks to all you celebrities for giving your time.  Thanks to Ebola Woman for letting us abuse your image. Oh wait, that’s not in there?)

Screen Shot 2014-11-19 at 13.38.43 Edit: According to one of my friends, she has passed away. I don’t know where he got that from, but if that’s true, I still feel that to show the footage of her in that way was wrong.

You’d think, that with 30 years (and three revisions of the song), that it’s had time to evolve, and become less offensive than it was when it first arrived on our radios, but alas, it hasn’t. As I said before, the lyrics are still as ignorant as they were before, still forcing that idea that Africa is so far removed from ‘us’, so uncivilised, so poor, so disease ridden and without joy. Poor them right? I’m sure most who live there, and those who are from Britain, don’t appreciate this kind of biased message still being allowed to perpetuate this backwards perception the West has of Africa. It would have been so much better to create a new song, with a more diverse set of singers, with much less glamour and just create something raw and powerful, rather than repeating this sham which now feigns charity.

Edit: My mother showed me this video which is a far more positive and informational song offering advice and solidarity to the countries affected.

The celebrities all gather cosily in their recording studio, while fans watch desperately with their iPhones in hand and photographers flash their cameras constantly. It all seems so wrong that this is a video for charity, when the photographers are out there, making money for shots, and the celebrities are there receiving their free promotion. How wonderful that they gave their time (for free!!) to promote a cause. How noble and caring and charitable of them to give money to charity like that- or did they? Did they donate anything themselves? Who knows.

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Giving to charity (I believe) should always be done privately. If it’s not private, there’s usually an agenda (in this case I’m sure it’s more fame, more fan adoration and free promotion- oh and Ebola). I thought maybe I’d check out the website and see where this money is going. What do they do with it? Apparently they don’t feel the need to elaborate other than this:

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On the home page, there’s no information about Ebola at all. The homepage. All we get is…you guessed it, celebrity news and tweets.

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So I have no idea what they do with the money. None at all. Does it go to funding hospitals? Or food? Or cures? Or clothes? Or Ambulances? What? I have no idea. Thank you Band Aid.

Why All About That Bass Is NOT Positive For Women

I first heard Meghan Trainor’s song on the radio a few weeks ago and instantly decided I liked it. She has a gorgeous voice, the music is catchy and the harmonies hit that spot.

But then I listened to the lyrics, and watched the video.

The video starts off innocently enough, with nice colour schemes and the dancers wearing pretty pastels. All of them are noticeably larger than girls (and guys) who would usually be seen in mainstream media (although it must be said that none of them are what anybody would call ‘fat’).

I’m not going to say they’re ‘normal’ sized because there is no ‘normal size’. Everybody is different and equal right? Well not according to Meghan.

Within the first 25 seconds of the video comes the skinny shaming, and that’s when I realised that this song is not for all women, doesn’t send a positive message to all girls, and has no intention of doing so.

The first we see of the ‘stick figure’ is her wrapped in plastic, looking like an idiot standing next to a black girl dancing, unable to shake it like she’s ‘supposed to do'(the fact that most of her dancers are black is also problematic- the black girls with the token white dancer around the successful white singer who barely dances at all. Let’s look back at ‘hard out there’ by Lily Allen shall we?). Here they’re using images of plastic to represent women who are thinner than they are, women they’ve been told have more worth because thin is seen as the ideal in society (but not too thin Millie Mackintosh, you need to gain some weight girl!). Plastic represents something fake, something hard, cold, unfeeling and undesirable.

The next images we see of her are her standing next to Sione while he’s dancing with her hand up to him like he’s not worth her time. So not only is she thin, but she’s also a stuck up bitch (‘skinny bitches’)- a stereotype of pretty thin women that has prevailed through time.

In the making of video, Meghan says ‘why not do a song about loving yourself and loving your body because I don’t think girls love themselves as much as they really should’. And the reason? Because we’re always being told that we’re not right. This song, for example, is telling girls they’re not right if they don’t have ass. It reminds me of the ridiculous phrase ‘a real woman’ (meaning one with ‘meat on her bones’), which not so subtly implies that women who are size (US) 0 (in this case 2) are nothing- they’re not real. Her video shows that being a ‘stick figure silicone barbie doll’ is negative, and the line is sung while the dancers walk around doing the mannequin (a less smooth version of the robot would be a good way to describe it), which definitely does not scream ‘I WANT ALL WOMEN TO LOVE THEMSELVES AS MUCH AS THEY REALLY SHOULD’ now does it? They’re saying, thin girls are like plastic, fake unable to move in the right way and unnaccepting of larger people (the girl wrapped in plastic is obviously being mean to Sione who is just doing his thing).This song is definitely not accepting of all kinds of bodies, and definitely not encouraging girls to accept themselves whatever way they were born (the black girl boots the thin one out of the frame with her dancing).

‘My momma she told me don’t worry about your size, she said boys like a little more booty to hold at night’ So now we’re at the crux of the matter. Don’t worry about your size – be glad that boys will like you better because you’re that size. This is what’s supposed to be the consolation for not being the prescribed image of beauty- a boy will like you all the more for it. Women should aspire to please men. Men will prefer it if a woman looks a certain way. A woman’s worth comes from her ability to attract and please a man.

Then we come to that main guy that Meghan wants to impress in the video. He’s white (of course) and quelle suprise, he’s thin. I’m sorry but if she wanted to be all about all body types she would have included some bigger men. Yes Sione is a bigger man, but he’s there (like the rest of the girls) because he has some talent. He’s a brilliant dancer. This guy has nothing, no value, no purpose other than to be the ideal of what these girls want to snag in life with their junk. The stereotypical white male who has Meghan, the girl who is supposed to be the star of the video, dancing around him even though he has done nothing to deserve the attention.

Why does it matter what men think (it doesn’t)? Why can’t women be allowed love themselves FOR themselves? Why do women have to aspire to what a man might want in a woman? And why are women encouraged to drag each other down to feel better about themselves? This song would have been so much better if she’d said ‘just love yourself no matter what anybody says, if you’re happy with your body, stay happy with it, the only opinion that matters is yours’.

I understand the message she thinks she’s getting across, but in order to boost the confidence of bigger girls, she is dragging down thinner ones, and that’s not what women should be doing. We should be encouraging each other to be strong and not depend on men for our self worth. This video and song is cleverly disguised as something that promotes body positivity for women when really all it does is perpetuate stereotypes, remind women that their value lies with the ability to please a man with her body, and pit thinner and bigger girls against each other.

 

I’m going to take a quick moment here to say I can hear people now saying how rarely bigger girls get any kind of love from popular songs or videos, why make it into something negative? But what I care about is the perception of women in our society, and how we can make it the norm that a woman’s worth comes what she can do, from her brain, not what she looks like. I want to live in a world where women aren’t force fed the idea that they need to gain approval from men by looking and behaving a certain way. This video (and song) does not send that positive message that women are worth something in themselves. It holds us back.

#YesAllWomen

Over the last week one of the biggest news stories was of the shooting in Santa Barbara, promoting the hashtag #YesAllWomen. It has become another debate about attitudes to women in Western society and the experiences they have in a male orientated world -experiences which men are seemingly oblivious to and quick to point out that it’s #NotAllMen.
If course it isn’t all men, but as many have pointed out, it certainly is all women who have experienced harassment or abuse or fear at the hands of men. I have had numerous encounters with men who cannot take no for an answer except if another man is involved. I’ve been stopped in the street and expected to give my number to a complete stranger. When you’re minding your own business on your way home and a man tells you you’re attractive, you thank him and try to walk on, but he follows, asking if you want to go out, if you’re single, where you’re going. And then for your number.

I used to give it, not because I wanted to, but because I was socialised into believing that this was a complement. I was lucky to be receiving attention and therefore felt incredibly bad for rejecting him. It’s not a complement, to be accosted and followed and followed. In a conversion with a friend I heard the usual ‘so where are you supposed to meet people then?’

The idea that she tried to justify the behaviour with that argument is confusing-how many times had anybody seen it being done the other way around? Not often. Why is it that women can restrain themselves to social situations but it is expected that men can’t?
Watching Laci Green’s videos on these topics has really opened my eyes. Watch it:

Women are consistently portrayed as objects, lesser than men, and not taken as seriously. I really believe that lots of women aren’t even aware of it, or say they aren’t feminists because it’s almost a dirty word these days, or don’t want to be seen as an uptight vagina getting her knickers in a twist over nothing. The response to any outrage in relation to equality for women is often ‘calm down dear'(quoted from Prime Minister David Cameron), as if inequalities don’t exist.

Again, this leads us to the problem of portrayal of women in the media. I recently saw an advert similar to this:

I was completely shocked that this was on television before realising we are fed this stuff all the time.  Women are fed the lie that we are unattractive to men in our natural bodies, and that we should strive to be what society has told men they should want in a woman-  hairless, bony and caked in makeup. We can only take natural pictures of ourselves to aid cancer, and it’s considered a brave thing to do- to bear our hideous, unpainted faces to the world.

The one thing I don’t often hear women say is : I’m completely confident in myself and my appearance, regardless of what anybody else says.’ Women are not allowed to say that (as demonstrated by Samantha Brick) and we are never allowed to feel beautiful for ourselves rather than for the men we are supposed to please.

I am 20. I did not post a ‘no make-up selfie’ (nor do I wear makeup every day), I shave when I feel like it, wear what I want and I no longer give out my number.

I am completely confident in myself as a person and my appearance, regardless of what anybody else says. I am not here to satisfy the opposite sex, I am not a lesser being, I do not owe anybody anything (except my mother, she gave birth to me) and I will not let society make me believe otherwise.

My Thoughts On The Halal Meat Debate

So it has recently come to light (or rather the Sun and the Daily Mail have blasted it everywhere) that Halal chicken has been being used in Pizza Express without it being made known publicly. That, along with the story that some 185 Subways have cut pork from the menu has caused a lot of people to express the following views:

That people should quit whining.

This is just UKIP and those Right Wing, Xenophobic racists scaremongering and promoting the idea that there is an ‘islamification of Britain’.

Halal meat is no different from non-halal meat, and there is no reason people should be up in arms when the usual methods of killing are just as gruesome.

My own views are far more liberal (although, I believe the people expressing the views above see their own views as liberal). What I feel most people are ignoring is the fact that our society is based on the idea that we should be equal and democratic. Everybody should have a say, and everybody should be treated equally. Although this doesn’t happen, that’s what we strive for.

I think it’s a good idea that Halal meat is offered in more places as the muslim population continues to grow. I think it’s good that they are having more options open to them, especially in mainstream chains. I don’t think people should be labelled as racist for being unhappy with the idea of being fed Halal meat without it being made abundantly clear that that is what it is.

To make it clear: I dislike the idea of slitting an animal’s throat while it’s fully conscious, but in the grand scheme of things, that’s probably the least of an animal’s problems in production. As bad as it sounds, I am not an animal rights activist and I am not overly concerned with the way they are slaughtered. I don’t care if I eat Halal meat, it’s all the same to me.

I believe that all Halal meat should be clearly labelled in stores and on menus, because for some, the ritualistic element is not something they agree with. For some Christians for example, if they fundamentally disagree with Islam, they may not want to eat food which has had an Islamic blessing on it. For an Atheist, they may want to eat food free from any religious ritual which they fundamentally disagree with. People should be given a clear choice and be able to make an informed decision on what they are eating, without being labelled ‘racist’ or Islamophobic because they don’t agree with it.

My second view is that the choice of pork should not be taken away from non-muslims. In a society that strives to be equal, removing the options and choices of one group to benefit another goes against the whole meaning of equality. Yes, of course I know that we are talking about a few small scraps of bacon replaced by turkey rashers, but the principle still stands. In addition, I feel that Subway’s decision to do this was a bad move. In a time when UKIP and the BNP are spouting their frankly racist views about Immigration, removing that small choice for the ‘indigenous’ (and I use that word lightly) people is giving them plenty of ammunition the rest of us would rather they did not have.

My last thought is a general one about religion. It seems to me that religion always seems to be above the law in a lot of cases. There are always exceptions for religions, and again, in a society which is still striving for equality (which we will never have) this is something we must be wary of.