November 2016 archive

Reaction or Overreaction?

Overeaction: To react with unnecessary or inappropriate force, emotional display, or violence.

There was a gif on social media last week that had a man laughing with the words, ‘for every male reaction there is a female overreaction.’ And yes, yes unsurprisingly this angered me. It was a man rolling his eyes at all women and branding us drama queens and emotional wrecks who flip at the smallest of things. And maybe in some way I proved him right by feeling annoyed by it, but the main thing I thought was, has nothing changed? Are women still viewed as these highly strung and hugely emotive, sensitive little souls?

And then I went to Blogfest16 and was proved very wrong. Women are not meek, they are not mild and as Shappi Khorsandi said, they ‘are running the world.’ There were amazingly engaging panels filled with inspirational women talking about issues in a measured and thought provoking way. The panel sessions discussed female presence on line, looked at campaigns strong women have led and are leading and talked about finding your voice when others want to silence you. And yes, by ‘others’ the speakers often meant men, because in their experience it always was white men who were trying to silence them. White men who send threatening tweets and attempt to make these women disappear through fear, by sending vile tweets or leaving hideous comments often attacking the women and their children. Miranda Sawyer described them as drunk men in a pub who should be left well alone, and I agree.

But I also agree that not all men are like this, and that sadly the many who are ruin it for the good ones. But yesterday the good ones joined in. They criticised a phenomenal event for not acknowledging them. They were upset by the ‘man bashing,’ and whilst I concur that bringing men down is never a way to thrust women up, the attacks weren’t personal. They were in context, they were real. Damn right Jess Phillips MP should get cross when asked if her husband is going to ‘babysit’ their children. And hell yes Sara Khan should bash the men who threatened to gang rape her in every orifice.

Mumsnet’s tagline is ‘parenting for parents’ and I know, I KNOW that means everyone – for there are many different people who come under that umbrella – but the event was headlined by big female names and many of the sessions were clearly focussed on women and were obviously going to have a strong feminist vibe. And if you were a man and you attended those sessions then I am not sure what else you expected. And it makes me angry that in an environment that should have been a safe space for women to come together and support each other and scream loud and clear about inequality (many of us technically working for free now until 2017 thanks to the delightful gender pay gap) and for me that was tarnished by the men who felt they weren’t acknowledged or catered for.

The friend I went with is running a blog for her business. She is not a mummy blogger and she knew full well that in some of the sessions she would have to work hard to take what she was listening to and adapt it for her purpose. She expected it to be pro female and strongly feminist, trusted the strong line up, and wasn’t disappointed.

Why couldn’t the male attendees do the same? Of course Mumsnet are going to target the majority of the audience and they do not need the men there, or indeed at home in their own little filter bubble, criticising the event for not meeting their expectations.

Every day women are made to feel vulnerable and repressed and out of place in their lives or not good enough. Women have jobs purely because companies need to tick a box and employ a certain number of females. Mothers are made to feel inadequate for staying at home and raising children. They are over looked for jobs they could be awesome at if there’s a man interviewing next to them. If they judge critically they are seen as moaners, if they are unhappy they will be criticised for saying so.

Sara Khan rightly said that there is ‘nothing more dangerous than a female with an opinion,’ and last night on Twitter she was proved right after I attempted to point out the hypocrisy of a tweet only to then be called a hypocrite myself, with my point being completely twisted and misinterpreted. I was not belittling daddy bloggers. I was not turning everyday sexism around and being sexist. I was not saying men were not welcome at Blogfest. I was trying to point out how this is how women feel ALL the bloody time and get shot down for fighting against it. That isn’t hypocritical. That is the exact opposite. Why the hell we can’t have an event for women about women without having a man complaining about it and trying to turn it into something it isn’t destined to be is enraging. We do not need men taking over everything. I think women would like to keep certain things just for themselves. And damn right they should to.

Blogfest16 for me was diverse, thought provoking and inspiring and I think women are even more wonderful now than I did this time yesterday.

And that is what I am going to hold on to. And I know I am not overreacting when I say that women, we really can rule the world.

A Dangerous Change

Change: an act or process through which something becomes different.

As a writer you’re always looking for a story. Something that fires you up and compels you to write.

And then, every now and again, something happens that makes you speechless and you sit down to a blank page and don’t know where to start.

That happened to me today, in the wake of Donald Trump becoming the President of the United States. The most powerful man alive. Voted in by the merest of margins.

I knew it was a perfect opportunity to blog. To say something profound, and have people go ‘hell yes, this!’ but then I thought…what is the point?

What the fuck is the actual point?

Both Great Britain and America are inhabited by a generation, or indeed several generations, of unhappy people. People who feel they are being failed by those previously elected to run their countries. People who feel they are owed something. Anything. And are prepared to divide their nation and incite hatred in order to do so.

And it sets a precedent. The UK voted for Brexit. The USA voted for Trump. But what next? Many other powerful countries have their elections next year and the insurgents of those countries are gaining confidence in the fact that they may very well be successful.

And all for what?

All for change. Unhappiness is a powerful emotion and one that can and has forced the world to become unrecognizable this year and potentially begun a huge historical momentum for change. People are so unhappy, so hideously full of hatred for their leaders and their lives, that they are putting their faith in dangerous men. Men who – according to the press and many recent reports – are racist, homophobic, misogynistic and vile. These men do not fill me with confidence. They do not make me believe they are going to change the world for the better. They are divisive and unpredictable.

Donald Trump may have had his own agenda and reasons for wanting to become President of the United States if America, but now has a lot to prove, not only to both his supporters and challengers, but to the rest of the world and I imagine everyone is sitting slightly more upright and on the edge of their seats than they were yesterday. They are nervously waiting to see what happens next. Wondering where we go from here.

And one thing I do think we need to look at during this turbulent time is the media and its role in perpetuating both dissatisfaction and fear amongst the many people who voted for these changes. Slowly drip feeding lies and propaganda and inciting hatred and feeding on fear. The fact that Brexit and Trump have won show how messed up this world is and that people honestly think that these outcomes were their only option.

The problem is deep rooted. People feel owed. We have become a world where hard work and respect have vanished and bullying and scaremongering are the norm.

And things do need to change.

And I can say with absolute certainty that Brexit and Trump are not the right catalysts for the sort of change that is needed.

But right now, I don’t know what is.