Friday, 31 May 2013

Bullshit Bell 1: Killer heels

Welcome to Bullshit Bell, the new semi-regular series of posts in which I call bullshit on various ridiculous things. How semi-regular, you ask? Whenever I feel like it. Whatever, schedules are bullshit.

I have a confession for you: I'm short.

Not short the same way my mother is short - she stands at exactly five feet, a perfect example of what 150cm looks like, and I have been taller than her since I was twelve. She has to ask assistants to get things from the top shelves when she's out shopping, and needs a footstall to reach the cabinets in our kitchen. I am forever grateful I'm not quite that short. No, like all things in my life, I don't quite fit neatly into measurements, and hover somewhere between 5'3" and 5'4" - slightly below average height, but it's enough for my slightly-above-average-height friends to call me short. They use their additional inches in a way which implies they have some sort of authority over me. "I'm taller than you, so there."

In the run-up to prom, talk in my circle of friends always came back to shoes. My highest heels were a paltry two inches, and even those made walking in a straight line after a few drinks a precarious exercise in providence. So, surrounded by my tall-friends discussing their high heels, I decided that I didn't want to look six inches shorter than my best friends. I wanted to look awesome.

This led to the purchase of a pair of prom-worthy shoes, stiletto-heeled black faux-suede ankle-boot-shoe things, with no grip on the soles. The sort of shoes that look more like an antiquated impliment of castration than footwear. The sort of shoes that I sometimes see career women wearing when I'm in London, and I find myself mesmerised by the way anyone can walk that fast while balanced on anything quite so small.

Walking up to my friend Emily's gravel driveway in these shoes, I nearly broke my ankle. But it was fine, because when her brother opened the door he said I looked great. And, of course, prom itself was an event fueled by freely-flowing wine, compliments, and complaints about the state of everyone's feet.

There is no good reason for us to wear anything that seem so counter-productive to the task they were designed for. Shoes are made for walking, so why wear shoes that it hurts to walk in? If you're at a high school dance, why wear shoes you can't dance in? And then you start taking your shoes off, and walking around in only your stocking-feet, and before you know it someone has accidentally stabbed their stiletto through your squshy toes and you spend the rest of the night in hospital, the hem of your dress stained irrevocably red.

I understand the appeal of high heels. I really do. They make your legs look longer. They add to your height without affecting your weight, so your BMI appears reduced. They close the gap between you and a potentially-taller significant other. The act of being taller can increase your authority, so if you're in a room where you need to be the boss, they can help. Sometimes, they're fun to dance in. They make a really sexy noise rap-rapping across a stone floor.

They are still bullshit.

All clothes are performative. What we wear is our conscious statement of how we present ourselves to the outside world. Women have to go through enough extraneous painful crap already - plucking and waxing and bleaching and straightening and curling and dieting and exercising and squeezing - that to add another layer to the proceedings seems ludicruous. We know you are very attractive. You don't need six-inch rhinestone-encrusted platforms that render you barely capable of hobbling to let us know that. Who are you trying to impress?

Really, the whole thing faintly reminds me of that traditional Chinese practice of foot-binding, where women with small feet were considered desirable - so women's toes were bent underneath, and their arches crushed to stop their feet from growing garishly large. Sarah Jessica Parker noted that wearing high heels as Carrie Bradshaw had wrecked her feet. Why are we voluntarily injuring a pretty vital part of ourselves just to look "hot"?

I'm not calling for all women to burn that one pair of Louboutins you have that were totally worth the $400 price tag because they make your calves look great. I am equally not implying that all high heels are greviously painful and impractical (though the abundance of articles in women's magazines called things like 'The 5 Comfiest High Heels For Summer!' makes me wonder). I just feel like we ought to think about it a bit more. Why are we making such an effort? What is wrong with going out in flats?

Either way, my own pair of killer heels are now sitting, dejectedly, at the bottom of my wardrobe. I feel like, considering the amount I spent on them, I ought to wear them again - and then I remember the horrible pain in my feet in the day after prom, and think maybe not. I would rather be short and able to walk than artifically tall, and unable to enjoy myself for the night.

Wednesday, 29 May 2013

"Zip it", hypothetical futures, and class.

When I was fifteen, I had a crush on a guy who I knew from local gigs. He was about three years older than me. Tall and skinny, he stank of cigarettes, even when he couldn't afford to smoke. He played guitar and had those long guitarists' fingers. He had snakebite piercings and hair that was curly and shaggy and cute in an unkept sort of way, and brooding eyes with long eyelashes. He always wore the same striped hoodie, and he had a way of seeming very old and very young at the same time.

When I met him, he had a girlfriend. They split up at some point, but I was never really privy to how or why. He texted me with inordinate amounts of kisses, and I would blush, but I just put it down to his affectionate nature. We only hung out together a few times: usually it was in the context of seeing bands, surrounded by acquaintances.

One afternoon, after school, I went down and met him in the shop he worked at. We were from fairly different worlds, even then. We wandered round St Albans and he smoked, and we discussed music and we ended up going to Burger King, because he saw his mates inside through the huge windows. He chatted to them - kids from the "rough" local schools, probably the year above me. Maybe sixth form. They eyed my uniform, identified me as a private school kid, and I remember feeling irrationally vulnerable. One of them saw the copy of Kerrang! I was carrying and trying to steal it off me - it got ripped in the tussle, and the guy mawkishly stated he was "just messing". Someone else told him to zip it. (The phrase always bemuses me: I tend to think of Zippy from Rainbow, and someone forcible tugging his mouth shut. I wonder if it hurts.) They started a food fight, throwing tepid chips at each other, and I left before the management came over to throw me out.

I didn't like his friends. I was soft and posh and, though compared to people at school I might be acceptable, I realised that I was a snob. Well, I thought, they could have behaved better around a guest! It seemed he and I moved in very different circles.

I remember him kissing me goodbye on the cheek, and I didn't mind the smell of nicotine on his breath. He promised to hang out again soon, and I smiled and said yes. He got fired from his job the week after.

That was a good three years ago. I lost contact with him, but every so often I check his Facebook page. He's 21, engaged, and has a son who must be nearly two by now.

I think about him in passing every so often, because it intruiges me. What if I'd done what a mutual acquaintance had suggested when she told me to "go for it"? I doubt it would be the same situation - not least because of my intense hatred of babies and utter refusal to get married - but would my life have been different, in a big significant way? Would his?

Or would future always flow like a river, and find any way possible to revert to its original course?  I imagine he probably still would have met his fiancee, just a bit later. Their kid might be a bit younger. Or perhaps it would be exactly the same and I am over-estimating my own hypothetical significance.

I hope he's happy, the boy with the shaggy hair and snakebites. I'm not sure it's the life he intended, but that's the way things work out, isn't it?

There's one piece of advice he gave me which still comes into my head every so often, usually when I walk past a tattoo parlour and am tempted to get my long lusted-after scaffold piercing.

"Never get piercings. They're addictive."

Eight piercings and counting says my life would be a bit different if I'd listened to him.

Sunday, 26 May 2013

Yesterday, a child came out to wander.

It was the end of an era.

The day dawned gloomy and grey. It started raining before the sun even rose and it carried on throughout the day, a persistent drizzle occasionally peaking in bursts that drenched you in six seconds. There was one moment in the day when I saw the sun: it reflected off the puddles on the road and left me wincing, half-blind.

It was the last ever day of school, and I was stood on a wall. There was a water gun in my hand and my friends on either side of me, and a lipstick-and-eyeshadow lighting bolt daubed on my face, covering my left eye and reaching down to my jaw. I was dressed as David Bowie, my red hair slicked back, my legs encased in a pair of non-stretch silver leggings.

It was the last ever day of school, universally known as Muck-Up Day, and the theme was "Space". The evening before, the whole of Year 13 had stayed an extra three hours after school. We had blown up a thousand balloons in pink, silver and black. We had hung paper stars from the ceiling and taped square metres of bubble wrap to the floor. We had filled a bathroom with cups half-full of water and draped the lower corridor in black fabric and photoshopped teachers' faces into Top Trumps cards, which were all over the walls. Classrooms were filled with balloons, or aliens, or turned into impossible stacks of tables and wrapped in toilet paper. Outside, the sign hanging from the library window proclaimed "WELCOME TO URANUS".

We got to school early that morning, and arranged the finishing touches. Once the lower years started to arrive, we soaked them with water pistols and laughed. Lydia painted herself green and we affectionately mocked her for it, as well as for her decision to wear shorts in the freezing cold. We were all dressed as spacemen or aliens, singing along to McFly's Star Girl, and it was an utter denouement when we realised that the fun and larks were over and we would have to clear up.

I was assigned a classroom with the desks arranged in a pyramid. While attempting to lift one of the desks off the third tier, I fell off a desk and spilt the cup of tea I'd left on the teacher's table. It covered a German dictionary, and - laughing hysterically - I reflected how my final contribution to school life was ruining someone else's property.

Emily drove me home once we'd tidied up, and I was so tired I fell asleep with the Bowiebolt still on my face.

That evening was Leavers' Ball. It seemed strange, how close together the events were - how we had to wake up at 6am for our last, curtailed day of school, and then stay awake until 11.30pm for the black-tie celebration that our formal education was over. We met at Sarah's house and drank champagne and took photos. I was in a dinner jacket and my friends were in long floating gowns. Everyone looked so beautiful that I felt a lump in my chest. I still have it now, thinking back: there was so much beauty in one room that it ought to have come with a warning.

I lost count of many things that evening.

I lost count of how many photos were taken. How many times my friends cried. How many hugs we doled out. How many times someone complained about their shoes hurting their feet. How many compliments we gave out, to everyone we saw. They flowed fluidly and easily, like the free wine - and I meant every one.

I definitely lost count of how many glasses of wine I drank. How many times we announced to people we barely knew - despite having been at the same school as them for years - that we would miss them. How many times I looked at all the happy couples, and sighed inwardly, and mourned my lack of a date.

How many times we laughed.

"This is it," Gill said. "We're grown-ups now. This is the end."
"I've been a grown-up for a while," I said. "Legally, at least."
"We'll be 20 next year!" Emily said, looking at me, and we exchanged shocked grimaces.
"It's gone so fast," Gill added.
"It's all over," Lydia said.

The moment I remember the most from the evening was not accidentally outing myself to the lighting technician, or dancing the Macarena in killer heels, or telling Gill to start working on having "a reasonable number of babies". It was before dinner (and before I drained two bottles of rose, which might explain my clarity of memory) when the Chaplain said grace. Or rather, sang it. She sang The Circle Game by Joni Mitchell.

I watched a tear track down Sarah's face, taking off her foundation in a neat line. I heard Gill next to me sniffling, so I grabbed her hand, and Lydia's on my other side. Gill took Georgina's hand, and Georgina took Emily's, and in a moment we were all sat there, connected.

I don't believe in God any more than I believe in the Tooth Fairy, but I do believe there are things we can't properly understand. Things we can only feel. In the end, love is what keeps us all here, and keeps us going, and love is what we have when we're hand in hand realising that this is a paradox. This is the end. This is a new beginning. It's bittersweet and glorious and full of ghosts of the past and spectres of the future, and this is what we have when everything else is stripped from us.

We have each other. We have love.

Saturday, 18 May 2013

Xeroxed bodies.

It is the middle of May and this means that summer is stood on the corner, chain-smoking cigarettes and pulling her skirt down over her grubby knees, waiting for her moment to step into the light and be loved.

And apparently, the only people who are allowed to enjoy summer are the beautiful ones. The skinny and athletic ones, with soft legs and hair. The boys with muscled chests and speedos and the girls with flat stomachs and matchstick arms. They adorn newspapers and recline in full-page full-colour advertisements and smile at us from our flat television screens.

Get a swimsuit body in six weeks, cry the magazines! It's easy! All you have to do is stop eating, start exercising compulsively, teach yourself that this perfect human body you have somehow isn't enough. Not good enough, not thin enough, not toned enough - not enough to wear a bikini or a pair of trunks.

This is clearly BULLSHIT.

I don't want to see the same gurning models selling me everything, be it toothpaste or holidays in Malta or even a zebra-printed two-piece from Next. I want to see real people. I want a mother-of-two with dimpled thighs and bingo wings in a bikini. I want pale girls, entirely uninterested in fake tans, with a booty and big feet. I want five foot women, disabled women, black women and Asian women and women who kiss other women. I don't want the same xeroxed bodies photocopied all over my media.

I want a media world that reflects the real world we live in, that celebrates diversity, not attempts to curtail it.

Summer isn't just for those that have arbitrarily been defined as beautiful. I defend everyone's rights to wear as much or as little as they want.

What good does it do you to tear down someone who weighs twelve stone when you think they ought to weigh eight? Nothing. And it does us no good either when we direct this loathing and shame upon ourselves. We are enough. Even if the brains in advertising haven't cottoned on yet.

You will always get more mileage out of selling an aspiration than a reality. But the unobtainable is only attractive until you realise that perpetually lusting over what you cannot have is destructive. Yes, it is POSSIBLE for you too to be thin, but will it make you confident? Or happy? You can love the skin you're in without buying expensive products to improve it - you can just love it as you are.

So I, with my wobbly stomach and bruised hips and half-submerged collar bones, am going to buy a bikini. And I am going to fucking wear it. Maybe I'll terrify some poor moral guardian trying to protect society from the terrors of imperfection. Maybe I will get called fat - as if that's the worst thing I can be, as if being called fat will sting me more than being called shallow or cruel or dull.

When I pass summer and her smokes on the street, I'm going to stub out her cigarette and grab her hand. The sun is shining. Let's go dance.

Sunday, 12 May 2013

What we talk about when we talk about stress.

Recently I've been sleeping a lot more, and dreaming a lot less.

This isn't how you're supposed to respond to stress. You're supposed to lie awake long into the small hours of the night and twitch with anxiety. Stress is supposed to give you nightmares or patterns of interrupted sleep. You're supposed to eat less and less and slowly wither away, consumed by a vague but lingering sense of panic, in the back of your mind or the pit of your stomach or some other fringe of your body.

I haven't been getting that.

My A-level exams are looming. For my international readers (hi, I kind of can't believe you exist), A-levels are the standardised tests you do in England at the end of your last year of school. Their results arbitrarily determine your future, if you get into the university you want to or are sent to your insurance choice or have to go through the confusing process known as clearing - which seems like a January sales-type deal, where you apply to empty places that other universities have due to their applicants messing up - or if you need to retake your exams. Of course, if your future doesn't involve university, then they are a lot less relevant.

But the fact of the matter is that I am relying on my grades to get to university. My offer from the University of York is fairly low and pretty easily achievable for me; I can drop a grade from my predicted mark in each subject and still exceed it. Perhaps this is why I'm not stressing the way my friends are.

Of course, with everything I do, I feel like there is a niggling fear that I will fuck up, and I will fail. Every time I write an essay, I turn it in thinking about how I could have improved it, and how it's my own laziness which is preventing me from doing so. When you don't have to work hard, sometimes you stop caring. I'm worried that this will happen to me, that I will become complacent from treading water and suddenly sink. I am cool and nonchalant, but inside my head I am afraid of doing it wrong.

This is what stress is to me. I don't down bottles of wine or party into oblivion to forget, but I don't obsessively revise either. Stress over my impending trip to Japan is probably compounding issues - it's less than two months till we leave and we haven't finished booking accommodation! That is stressing me out! What if we get to Kyoto and have to illegally camp in a park?! By comparison, I'm finding it a little difficult to care about the GOP position on immigration or William James' essays on religious experience or the dramatic presentation of power in King Lear.

Sure, my future might hinge on how well I can bullshit about Webster's poetry, but what if I don't book a hostel in Hiroshima in time and have to pay an extra five pounds a night?!

I guess what I'm trying to say is that I have no sense of proportion. I am a little bit stressed over a lot of things, so I focus on the most innocuous because - well. That's just it. I don't know why. Maybe because it's the least scary.

It'll all be over soon, and until them I guess I will continue to sleep less and eat about the same amount, and hope it all works itself out in the end.

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

V bakes cakes, paints nails, feels conflicted.

Sometimes I get concerned about weird things. I get paranoid that I'm too girly. I get worried that I'm not girly enough. I get anxious over the fact I am a walking feeling fumbling contradiction.

For example, I like baking. And baking is such an intrinsically female hobby, right? It's one of those things which is a key building block of modern-day "quirky" girls, those of us who (willingly or otherwise) follow in the footsteps laid by Zooey Dechanel's characters: we bake. It's what Kristen Wiig did in Bridesmaids and 20-something writers the world over seem to either revel in or lament their lack of talent in. It's kind of retro and kitsch, and we can recognise its cliched nature, but it doesn't stop us from whipping up a tray of brownies every weekend and acting like it's no big deal.

While considering why exactly baking is such a girly thing, I suppose it comes back to the old idea that a woman's natural place is in the kitchen, and furthermore that women have a sweeter tooth. (Actually, that comes up a lot - how many times do you see a male character on telly curled up with a tub of Ben & Jerry's, sobbing into the slowly-melting mess on his spoon?) Producing food is a nurturing thing, and sharing it is displaying maternal virtues of generosity and kindness. It is a girl's job to prepare food, and bring it forward as an offering to appease and please others... but I like giving people cake. I like making people happy, because it gives me an ego boost. (But having an ego isn't feminine! We're supposed to be meek and mild and gracious! We can't actually REVEL in the fact we're good at something!)

Cupcakes in particular are the "in thing" right now to an almost revolting extent. Cupcakes are child-like and whimsical and cute, qualities we associate with women, but also with kids. And kids like to bake. Does a love of baking therefore infantilise women, somehow reduce their status? I can recall reading various feminist blog posts arguing as much... but it upsets me, because I am a really good baker. And it makes me worry that I shouldn't be. Like anything traditionally feminine is instantly bad - which, of course, is bullshit.

On the other hand, I never strike anyone as the sort to bake. People are surprised by it, even - especially - classmates who have known me since I was 12. I'm brash and opinionated and pugnacious. I will argue with anyone. One of my proudest moments was being 17 and in the House of Commons, talking to Conservative MP Damian Collins. I was in a room with maybe a hundred other Politics students, and watching him glibly wriggle out of question after question about tuition fees and foreign policy. I stuck my hand up, and asked him why exactly the Conservative party's MPs were so homogenous and socially unrepresentative - and he opened and shut his mouth and couldn't answer. My teacher high-fived me.

This leads me to come across as aggressive, and I'm aware of how this quality is perceived differently in men and women. It's praised in guys, a laudable trait, but not so much in girls. Apparently, having opinions and voicing them leads to me being... a bitch.

But what am I actually good at except baking and arguing? Recently, I've started painting my nails in increasingly intricate ways, which demonstrates creativity and an endless capacity for procrastination - but it's even more typically feminine than baking. Am I really girly enough to spend hours slaving over my nails once a week, trying to paint the perfect tuxedo or penguin, when I can't be bothered with any of the other demands that society places on me? I don't wear make-up or even shave very often, and yet I delight in decorating my fingers with twee patterns and pictures.

I will also admit to being arrogant. I know I am academically very intelligent; I do well in exams, probably undeservedly. I generally consider myself good at most things I put my mind to. I'd think of myself fairly attractive (though I'm probably the only one who would). Like everyone else, I've grown up being told that I'm special - but I'm stubborn and deluded enough to believe it, that I am the one in a million, that everyone else might fail but I will be that one makes it.

But this is where I get all self-contradicting. I am also full of self-depreciation, and it's as genuine as the bragging. Take everything I just said in that above paragraph. I've qualified all of it. I recognise both that I ace exams, and that I don't deserve to. I might think I'm good looking, but that means nothing if I'm the only one who thinks that. I think I'm special, but I also think I'm probably mistaken. And I will never compliment my own writing.

It is the thing I love above almost anything else, but I refuse to think I'm good at it, and I shake my head whenever anyone says I am. I will say I'm an amazing baker, but a good writer? Hell no. Self-doubt is an innate part of being a human being, but being vocal and public about it? Yet another feminine trait, though I'd argue this is deeper rooted than my love of baking.

It feels like my artifices are traditionally feminine - the baking, the nail varnish, the hair dye - whereas my personality leans on the more masculine. But even that isn't true. I play video games. I get edgy on dates when I eat more than the other person. I'd rather have a tuxedo than a ballgown. I fetishise high heels, even though I know it's stupid and I'll never be able to walk in them. I'd rather be behind-the-scenes than on stage. I love being the centre of attention.

I feel guilty for not pursuing a field in science, where there is an appalling gender inbalance. Men are still responsible for more artistic creations than women are. Even in a typically feminine academic field like English, the highest fliers are still men. That pisses me off.

This is what people are like. We are the sum total of all the bits that don't fit together properly. It's less our constituent facets that make us interesting and unique, but how they all intersect. I have to reconcile conflicting elements of my personality, just like we all do. None of us are perfect - we're not hypocrites for recognising that we have internal disagreements. We're just prototypes.

So I might still feel a twinge of guilt for baking or painting my nails - like all I'm doing are confirming outdated stereotypes about women - but I'll mainly put it aside. Because I'm pretty damn awesome at both of them.

Saturday, 4 May 2013

Ugh. Prison rape jokes aren't funny.

I get offensive jokes. Of course I do. I've laughed at a few. Everything's offensive to someone. But saying as much can get you branded as that lowest of the social pariahs, the one who doesn't have a "sense of humour".

Anyway, what I really mean is that I understand the mentality behind making offensive jokes. There's the shock factor, the need to make people think "did you really just say that?", the moment of disbelief before the hysterical surprised laughter. The need to prove you're edgy and cool. The ease at which you can pick a target, and then moan how anyone who doesn't like your joke is just being politically correct.

People are slowly getting better at this sort of thing, I think. Jokes about homosexuality tend to revolve less around the heinous practices of being gay and more around the uncomfortable reaction it genders from conservatives - and I love that. There are countless posts about why rape jokes aren't funny and why comments about minorities are thing which have to come from within those communities rather than from outside them. Generally, gratuitously bad-taste jokes are getting more sensitive, or at least smarter.

The thing is, apparently prison rape is still totally a-okay to mock.

Think about it. No matter the medium - sitcoms or drama or magazine editorial, left-leaning or ardently conservative. Whenever the chance of being incarcerated crops up, there will almost always follow a comment about what will follow in prison.

"I'm too pretty for jail!"

"Don't go dropping any soap."

"Be careful in the showers."

It all makes me feel like throwing up.

We've established generally, as a society that raping a woman is wrong (unless you're one of those cave-dwelling neolithic things known as a "lad", in which case you probably thing it's "mad bantertainment"). Putting something in someone else's orifice without their express permission is a kinda literal dick move.

Apparently, this doesn't apply to criminals. You robbed someone's house: therefore, alongside being locked up, I am totally fine with the idea of you being sexually assaulted as part of your penalty - and not only that, I will gleefully laugh about it. It's just how things work.

I remember having a guy come into my school and talk to us about his time in a prison in Arizona. It sounds like the stuff of nightmares, feculent and sweaty and putrid, full of people who fell out of horror stories. There were gangs set up strictly along race lines, and getting beaten up was a regular occurance. This guy told us about one event he witnessed where another inmate had a glass bottle inserted into his rectum and then shattered.

And it's something we get jokes about on primetime television.

Prison rape is a humanitarian problem, but we don't care about it because the victims of it aren't children being sodomised by Catholic priests or women suffering at the hands of abusive boyfriends. Of course I'm not saying those things are fine - they are heinous. But they aren't mocked with the same crushing regularity. Rape is a horrible thing. It's not about sexual attraction, it's (broadly) about exerting power over another individual in any way you can, proving your dominance. And suddenly, an action which we deplore when directed towards women is hilarious when directed towards people in the criminal justice system.

I suppose another level of it is the masculinity aspect of it. Rape against men is even more underreported and underrepresented than rape against women, and I guess it's because the shame aspect of it is that much more heightened. Women get caught up in the idea that if they'd been less provactive it wouldn't have happened: men assume a "real man" wouldn't get raped, and the silence continues.

Worse, consider the conditions inside prison: if it's the sort of place you will be raped in the first place, trying to get councilling for it will be impossible. Imagine trying to recover from such a destructive event in an actively hostile environment. You'd just be expected to get on with your day. You'd gain no sympathy, from anybody. That's horrible.

Is that why we laugh at jokes about people being anally assaulted? Being it's emasculating? Because we think that murderers and kidnappers and drug dealers deserve it?

They might be horrible people who did horrible things. They might equally be entirely unremarkable people who made a mistake and got busted over it. But whatever their moral status, prisoners are still PEOPLE. And no person ever deserves to be raped.

Trying to sort out the actual institutionalised practise of prison rape is a serious problem in and of itself. The very least we can do is to stop half-assed writers using it as a cheap punchline whenever they want to try and be controversial.

So prison rape "jokes" aren't funny. Cut that shit out.

Thursday, 2 May 2013

This little corner of the internet.

"It's incredibly comforting to know that as long as you don't create anything in your life, then nobody can attack the thing you created." - David Wong, 6 Harsh Truths That Will Make You A Better Person

This little corner of the internet is mine. I have staked it out with my own hands.

If the internet were a physical space, a garden, this would be a 1m x 1m allotment I had somehow acquired for free by merely asking for it. I would be tending it every few days, talking to the grass, planting rainbow flags in the corners, telling anyone who came to look for me that this is mine. Amazingly, some people would come to look at my little space in the allotment, and I'd smile and tell them that this is mine. I created this. It's not much, but I can safely say it belongs to me.

We scoff at people with ideas, don't we? We roll our eyes, and say "sure, like THAT will happen". We're so quick to destroy other people with drive and ambition, and I feel like it's because, on the inside, we all think we're lacking that.

I have no drive. I have been trying to write a politics essay for seven hours. I was literally given the paragraph headings, and yet I haven't managed to write into the gaps. I have no drive to do that because it's important. I'll have to hand it in, and get a mark for it, and the chances are it won't be as good a mark as I want. And instead of thinking about how I should have worked harder to get that grade, I'll just sigh and tell myself that's what I get for doing anything. I have to deal with the gulf between what I hoped for and what really happened, and that's disappointing? And the easiest way to not have that gulf is to, uh, not do anything.

If you don't do anything, it can't get ruined.

This is my corner of the internet. This is basically my diary, except that it's in a public place so I can't yell at my brother for violating my privacy if he reads it (though I never kept a diary as a child, so I never had to deal with him doing that). Sure, there are some people I would rather wouldn't read this, but I can't stop them. And they can't stop me from writing.

The very act of creating anything is so important. It's a contribution to society. It's why I think girls are kind of indoctrinated into the world of baking from a young age: you are taught that by contributing, and giving things to other people, you will receive love. And while the baking thing does have a gender skew and sexism and stereotypes of femininity and a woman's supposedly natural role all rolled into it, the priniciple is the same: we are only worth as much as we can give to others. (For reference, I didn't bake much as a child as my mother hates it, but over the past two years I've become FUCKING AMAZING at it.)

I am giving you my words. I am giving you my thoughts. I'm aware that they aren't very good, but I am trying. I am producing something new. This blog post has been written by thousands of other people with exactly the same sentiments, but this is new. Because this is my take on it. I'm very lucky that I've never had any negative comments on here; I'm all too aware of the backlash you can suffer simply by being someone (especially - gasp - a WOMAN!) on the internet, with opinions. In other places I've been called an "angry lesbian", a walking cliche, a privileged hipster trust fund kid. I've been called dirty and unhygenic and lazy for admitting I don't shave particularly regularly. They are accusations levelled at me for what I am, or perceived to be. Not because of what I do.

But at least I try. At least I produced something for you to use to insult me. If I hadn't have tried, I wouldn't be in this position.

So come on, come at me bro. Come to my allotment. Kick my flowers. Pick my fruit off all the sapling trees and trample it into the ground. Snap my twigs. You can't stop the fact I created these things in the first place.

This little corner of the internet is mine, and I've invited you to come have a look around. Come in, have a look around; and if you don't like it, get your own garden. Grow your own words there. I hear it's free. All it costs is a little time.