Fate is Chance. Destiny is Choice.

Friday, March 31, 2006

"I'm starting with the man in the mirror, I'm asking him to change his ways.."

Hey all (whoever all is...)! Life has been relentlessly unfascinating the past few days, although it's good to be home in Barnet (that's in Hertfordshire by the way, in England). I'm still (meant to be) getting on with my essays, and things are so stressful that last night was the worst night I've had in ages, I believe I've turned into an insomniac. Its difficult though - I didn't stay most of the night worrying about myself, it's more worrying about my family. My sister is going through this stage being a teenager and being fairly self centred (although she's lovely most of the time) and is down about stuff that she won't tell me or my Mum about, which is a first for her really, and my Dad is still not working and doesn't get up til the afternoon everyday.

It's sad and kind of depressing cos he drinks every night and chain smokes and theres only so much Mum and I can do to encourage him to get going and do something for himself (and his family). We've been thinking of going to the doctor to ask for help but I feel very guilty if we did it without telling him and we both agree that we should give him a chance to come with us or ask for a home visit from a doctor. It's been going on for about 2 or 3 years now and I think he must be very depressed, he doesn't have any motivation really. It's obviously difficult for my Mum aswell, she doesn't really have a partner at the moment as my Dad is being relentlessly childlike and blames her for things that are his fault.

I know it's not like my Dad goes out to drink and comes back violent or anything like that but it's not nice seeing a person so depressed and incomprehensible when he's drunk or constantly blaming my Mum for things he should be able to do himself like get on with his driving stuff on the computer as he's meant to be training to become a driving instructor. It's a complex problem I think but I don't agree with him blaming Mum for things. I don't like being in the house during the day whilst my Dad is in bed and I'm doing my essay work as it makes me worry about him all the time. It's good to have some space to work etc but sometimes I could do without worrying about it.

Anyway! I think I just needed to get this out of my system, sorry if it all seems heavy. My parents are grown adults and they do need to figure things out for themselves, especially my Dad. I know there are people out there with much worse problems but I think everyone's problems are important, no matter how small.


Thursday, March 23, 2006

"Wow, look at you now, Flowers in the window..." (Travis)

Today was quite productive as some people put it - I got up early, had my Tescos food delivery, had lunch then went off to the library from 3pm-6.30pm! I was basically photocopying from all the books that I need to read for my assessment essays - I've got 3 essays to do in the next few weeks (cue lots of sleepless nights sorta worrying about it, lol). I've got a Dreamworlds: Society and the Utopian Imagination essay, a Gender and Society essay and Humans and Other Animals essay. I have started the Gender and Society essay - I've done around 3000 words so far so I've just got another 2000 to do, along with a bit of polishing and refining.

On top of that, I also have to get my project essay research questionnaire sorted out. I've decided to do a project based on the societal images and ideas of deaf people and what the actual reality is for deaf people within society. My experience of being a deaf person may help here because I know what it's like although I can't presume to know what it's like for other deaf people apart from the ones I know.

So basically I'm going to use the questionnaire to ask hearing people what their views on deafness are - their ideas of what a deaf person or deaf people are like and what they think their life chances are like in education, jobs and so on. I'll ask deaf people questions along the same vein but ask them what they feel life is like for them and other deaf people. Then I'll compare these two ideas of deafness if they are different, and talk about whether things have changed for deaf people in a historical, cultural and political context. Whew, sounds difficult? I'm sure I'll be okay..I've got lots of reading to do though!! I'm quite excited because its something I'm interested in and I want to see what the reality is like for other deaf people.

I've being doing some thinking about who has most influenced me in my life, whether that's directly or indirectly. I mean, I'm talking about intellectually/creatively mostly, but also influenced me by being there and caring enough to listen when I really need them to. I know I am a strong person and the things I've been through and am going through are easier because I refuse to let myself be pulled down by things, but I think there are people who have made me feel that I can get through things okay. Like my Mum, and sister who have constantly been there when things get really bad. And my Dad, just for being there, even if we don't talk much. And my boyfriend, who manages to make me see when I'm being silly and self pitying and makes me take myself less seriously when I need to.

Intellectually and creatively (or just for fun!):

  1. Virginia Woolf (writer and an extraordinary thinker)
  2. Carol Ann Duffy (for thinking out of the box when it comes to poetry)
  3. Jane Austen (for creating the wittiest and most intelligent heroine in Lizzy Bennett)
  4. The Brontes (Charlotte, Emily and Anne - Emily wrote Wuthering Heights and Charlotte wrote Jane Eyre, among others)
  5. Dr Celia Kitzinger (my Gender and Society lecturer at York University)
  6. Wilkie Collins (wrote The Woman in White, The Moonstone and No Name - some of the best classic thrillers ever)
  7. Margaret Atwood (wrote The Handmaids Tale - a feminist critical dystopia)
  8. William Shakespeare..goes without saying!!
  9. Hayao Miyazaki (Anime director extraordinaire - he has restored my faith in cinema as being interesting, quirky and entertaining!!)
  10. Audrey Hepburn - she became a UN ambassador when she was older and had nothing more to do with movies. She was a lovely person who encompassed dignity, grace and kindness (although I'm sure she had her bad points like the rest of us!). She brought something different to the movies she was in!
  11. Frida Kahlo (Mexican artist). Her work may be dismissed offhand sometimes as being very self absorbed but it seems to me to go much deeper than that. Sometimes her art seems to me to be a portrayal of human suffering and pain, other times it becomes a kind of defiance in the face of authority and patriarchy. She had a moustache, joined eyebrows and was not afraid to be herself.
  12. Michael Jackson. Well..I grew up with his music. Thriller was the first album that I took seriously and his music almost became the soundtrack to my life...as bizarre as that sounds! It's like some people love Elvis Presley's music or Frank Sinatra.
  13. My friend Luce - everytime I see her and we have a catch up about life and things, she never fails to cheer me up and inspire me.
  14. My boyfriend - for introducing me to things that I probably wouldn't have tried before or thought about before. For being someone I can talk to about meaningful things without feeling restricted or held back.

I'm sure theres a couple more where that came from but I think the above is as eloquent as I can get for the time being. I'm very tired and tomorrow is going to be a busy day seeing as my boyfriend is coming to York for the weekend and I've got a bit of packing to do as I'm going home on Sunday night to London for the easter hols. Hmm..I'm getting a little annoyed saying "my boyfriend" all the time instead of his real name! :-D

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Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Little Ramblings..and stuff

Hello everyone (if anyone reads this that is!!), it's been a while since I last posted - my boyfriend's blog sums up what we have been up to the past couple of days!! Basically, I went to Edinburgh for a week and on Thurs 16th my Mum went up to Glasgow to support one of the captioners who was captioning Romeo and Juliet at the Theatre Royal - my boyfriend's Mum and I went up there to watch the performance (it was okay but not as good as some R+J performances I've seen - I went to see it at the Globe Theatre in London and it was fabby there) then we all went back to Edinburgh and my Mum stayed til Saturday.

Before that, I was doing my procedural essays to hand in for the end of term - I was doing my Humans and Other Animals essay til late on Tuesday night and on Wednesday I went to hand it all in back in York. I spent the afternoon doing a bit of shopping (lol) and had a panini in Starbucks for lunch before going back to Edinburgh. I think I must have spent loads on train tickets recently!!!

At the moment, I'm back at York for the week and I'm going home on Sunday evening. I'm pretty homesick at this point, but I've got so much work to do and I'm quite stressed, although I've been starting to read a classic book 'I Capture the Castle' by Dodie Smith to chill out with. She wrote 101 Dalmations if you're wondering who she is! 'I Capture the Castle' is truly an enchanting book so far, it's making me feel inspired as the narrator in the book is a teenager writing in her diary about the world around her and her everyday life. Sounds boring? You would be surprised, it's one of the best books I've read (so far) and I've read alot!! I'll let you know if it's worth the rather early opinion =)

Being homesick or missing people is different when you're older. I love having my independence, financially and in what I do and how I manage my time. I've learnt to appreciate the people in my life much more since I've moved to York - I can appreciate my parents as individuals and I think sometimes taking a step back means you appreciate the different relationships you have with people. In my Mum's case, I really enjoy talking to her because we both listen to each other even if we don't agree with what the other is saying. I know she means well when she points things out but I tend to get quite annoyed if I feel she's pushing me too hard about something.

However, when I go home, I tend to feel a bit stifled because I really love the independence I've got here in York. With my Dad, well, it's always been a difficult relationship but I've found that I care much more about how he is doing. He has been quite down/depressed since his father died a few years back but he is hopefully slowly putting his life back on track. My Mum always says that I'm like my Dad and I do agree because he is very stubborn, thinks alot and can be quite nervous when meeting people he doesn't know quite well. He likes to talk alot when he's with good friends though!

With my Sister, well, I miss her alot because we both understand what it's like to be a deaf person in a hearing world. I think we're quite different because although we have some similar interests (music, reading, writing), I think she's much more confident than I am or used to be when in social situations. We both have a similar sense of humour (it tends to end up with both of us rolling around on the sofa just because of pulling faces - it's called being zany!!) but I get annoyed with her because she can be quite selfish and calls me selfish for no reason sometimes (when she borrows something of mine without asking for example and I get annoyed - I don't mind if she asks me for something though!)! But it's all the sister stuff that most people get :-D

I'm not sure if I'm looking forward to going home or not after Uni is finished (that's June by the way). I've got mixed feelings about it which is understandable - it's been great having less time to travel to Edinburgh. I think we will make it work though, it's hard but I'm looking forward to when my boyfriend and I can move in together. I think it pays to be optimistic about things rather than thinking about the barriers (like money!).

Anyway, I just want to say something that my boyfriend posted on Nobleminded's blog recently (the one about having no energy etc). It's really hard when people ask you what you want to do when you leave Uni or what your ultimate 'goal' is. It's one of the most annoying questions in the whole world! I mean, all I know is that I feel strongly about deaf rights, feminism, art, reading and stuff.

Sure, I will get a job and it might not be the ultimate job but I think people expect that everyone knows what they want to do. It's an impossible question - there are lots of things that people want to do with their lives, it doesn't have to be career oriented. Like, you could have a normal job but support a charity actively and so on. It's hard when you come home at the end of a day and you're really tired but that's okay, people work hard and so what if they're not climbing a ladder.

It's good to have dreams though - it's important to have those ultimate goals that you would like to achieve, even if it's just saving enough money to go to Japan or something like that. I don't understand the whole "what is your ultimate career goal" thing. I myself want to make a difference for people, for deaf people in particular. I don't know if I'll achieve that goal but I want to and that's more important than what you are doing right now, if you know what I mean?

It's easy for people to ask what you're doing because our world is obsessed with movement and change and stuff. It doesn't always care about stability or reality any more. I mean that yes, they want you to be stable and in a job, but there always has to be something "more" or whatever. It feels as though everyone has to know what they want to do or be, especially when they're about to leave Uni, and fair enough maybe. But there doesn't have to be something specific that you have to be "doing" right now. I just wanted to remind people that the most important thing is that you believe in yourself. I know I'm quite idealistic but one of the best things about human beings is that we have the ability to believe, to be confident about ourselves and what we want in life.

It's made me think about the whole religion thing again. I mostly don't believe in God and heaven and things because I'm more interested in the here and now and what we do in the earthbound life. I think a more important thing than religion is to just be a good person, you really don't need religion to understand what being a good person morally is. I think it consists of not harming other people although the concept of harm is a good example of what has gone wrong with free speech and so on. I think people in society should accept that everyone is different and everyone has their own opinions and should be allowed to express them. Just so long as their opinions do not directly harm people, such as the belief that certain people should be killed or whatever.

We shouldn't have to live with views that incite hate and violence against women, gay people, disabled people or people with different religions and so on. It is very difficult to discern what is harmful and what isn't for example. I consider it harmful if a group of men shout obscenities at a woman or another person for example. I understand why it's hard to draw the line at certain things and why the government have had so many problems with the 'free speech' thing. It's so difficult to know where to begin when it comes to changing certain things in society - but I'm just thankful that there are pressure groups that deal with all the bad things about our society.

Anyway...I'm off to bed now I think..thanks for reading if you have!!

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Wednesday, March 08, 2006

International Women's Day

Hi again...it's international women's day today (according to the www.thefword.org.uk blog!) and I didn't know until I checked fword, oh well. I suppose because Feminism is an unfashionable concept perhaps? :-( Who knows..or maybe because I didn't read the papers today (yes, it could be my own fault) although I didn't see any mention of it in the news or anything :-(

I should be doing more work instead of this but I'm so tired and can't exactly be bothered as sometimes the problem with University essays is that they have to be extremely well referenced and it can be awkward sometimes - the rules being that almost every statement and comment you make must be referenced. You can still use your own opinion if it backs up an argument but you still have to talk about the reference or piece that may (or may not have) given you the opinion (even though your opinion is your own...). At least I'll hopefully get a good degree!

I don't think I've mentioned this before, but I have PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome). It's become quite publicised since recent years - although I think there's a lot of confusion about what it actually is as it represents a whole bunch of symptoms - many women get misdiagnosed with something else as the range of symptoms is so wide. The main symptoms include hirsutism (the 'clinical' term for so called 'excess' hair), higher androgen content (ie. higher volume of male hormones), irregular or absent periods, ovarian cysts, Insulin resistance (diabetes 'in reverse' - basically too much insulin), extreme tiredness/lethargy, acne (spots!!), and a whole host of other symptoms - and not everyone gets all the symptoms, it varies from woman to woman.

The main treatment for PCOS is metformin which helps to lower your insulin or regulate it so that you can lose weight by exercise or whatever (although some women are a 'normal' weight) and if you have high androgens then you take dianette and/or an extra dose of cyproterone (which is in dianette already). There is no possible 'cure' although the symptoms can calm down if you lose weight (if overweight) and exercise etc. It is actually ten times harder to lose weight with insulin resistance, even if eating healthily and exercising. Ovarian cysts often cause infertility in some women, although the doctors treating you can help you conceive through a number of treatments I believe.

I was diagnosed with PCOS because I had some 'excess' or noticeably darker hair on my face and elsewhere. I usually bleached the hair so it didn't always seem very noticeable, but my audiologist doctor pointed it out to me and said she would refer me to someone to see if it was what she thought it was. My 'excess' hair didn't bother me much but when I was diagnosed with PCOS I felt as though I was being examined under a telescope as my hair became the object of dispute! It was very hard for me to have the things that defined my being a woman said to be not in working order or "wrong".

I don't think doctors are very sensitive about these kinds of things even if they are experts in the field. I became much more conscious about my hair, and this actually made people notice it more even though before they hardly noticed! So my daily routine is to remove the hair through trimming and so on, which is a pain to be honest with you, to feel so much pressure about my own appearance. I have to say that the dianette has since worked well with making my hair fairer and less noticeable, but what confidence I had before in hair matters is kind of skewed as I am still trimming my facial hair even though it is fair!

Its hard for me to explain these symptoms to people - they assume I have diabetes or some fertility problem or that my hormones are all screwed up. I do feel excessively tired sometimes and people often think I am being lazy :-( It's difficult to explain to someone that all these particular symptoms you have are all one thing and theres no real cure for it. I get annoyed or have tantrums and feel out of control, probably because of the male hormones or just my hormones bouncing around. I actually felt better before the dianette suppressed the male hormones as I felt happier and more well balanced. I'm not sure why this is - I think maybe dianette can cause slight melancholy (it is a form of contraceptive pill to also try and regulate my periods).

Despite all this, I don't feel any less of a woman. I think feeling like a woman has something to do with how secure you feel with yourself..although I'm not exactly sure. Maybe because I've read so much about women in society and feminism that I feel okay about myself as a woman, that I know I don't have to be this perfect stick thin advertisement for femininity, an inhuman portrayal of beauty ideals or whatever. I know I'm not ugly or that I'm not a good person, I like myself despite sometimes feeling let down by what's happening to my body. It is my own body though and I care about it!lol :-) It's very hard to define what I mean when I say I don't feel any less of a woman!!

Anyway..better do some more work!!

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Monday, March 06, 2006

A Showcase For My Lyrics/Poetry

Future Dreams

It’s always been hard to let go
And leave the rest up to tomorrow
It’s hard to get over things that hurt
To push these things apart
So that they won’t seem like part of your life anymore
So that they just feel like a hazy nightmare
That disappeared when you woke up
You want to feel like you can reach the top
You want to feel free again
You want to feel okay again
You want to be happy again
It would be wonderful if it wasn’t real
It would be wonderful if it wasn’t true
But you learn from mistakes
You learn from the pain
But it’s always been true
I like my life; I love my life when it’s beautiful
I like to see the world as it wants to be seen
Perfection I know is just a dream
But it’s nice to try and see things that way
To see something beautiful in every day
To love yourself even when things go wrong
To tell yourself that you can be strong
Because only you know how you feel
You are the only one who can make things real
You can get yourself through this
And every day will get easier
Every day it will get better
And you can dream of something new.


Where do we end the long reasons,
When do we know when to fade?
Life seems to go on and on,
Until all the moments are gone.
If we take each moment for granted,
A wintry cold will set in,
Gone are the days of light and feeling,
Instead is the pain and the dark.
The shadows will stretch their cold fingers,
And take in all the experience they can,
Wisdom will slip away; memory will slowly and surely die,
Is this the time to ask countless reasons why?
Will this be the end of the world, is time going to slip away?
Fade into underlined stars,
Which we don't take the time to believe.
It rains and it rains and it never lets go,
And the wind it goes through my head,
Scattering thoughts like leaves from a book,
The words spill off the pages,
And are magnified by raindrops which fall
Seeking others like themselves,
Needing others who will understand
Fading away in the sunlight.

Beyond Tomorrow (Profundity)

Should I try and let go,
Need I feel so low?
Will I understand this is so profound?
Maybe I will hide in all this sound;
Feel all the wavering sorrow?
If I let go right now -
It will be needless to feel in turmoil,
And feel all this woe.
I will not need to foil,
Anyone’s stricken plans?
All I will do is traverse all these lands.
Find out who I am today;
Bring back hope and dreams,
To those who cannot see beyond tomorrow.


Put Your Records On

I have to say that the title is a shameless plug of Corinne Bailey Rae's fabby song - I ordered the album on HMV (with student discount!) as she sounds great - this fab summery rich sound like Billie Holiday. Definitely an artist to keep your ears tuned to!

My weekend has been boring to say the least, I've somehow got another cold which keeps making me sneeze every few minutes. I had a rash over the past couple of weeks and luckily that's gone...I seem to have numerous bodily complaints, especially during the winter! At least it's March and things might be getting better (unless you count hayfever, yuk). I've pretty much been studying for a procedural essay by reading stuff all weekend and tomorrow I am taking a trip to the library..fun.

I'm not entirely sure why I am blogging at this late hour, as I should be tucked up in bed trying to get rest to ward off the cold. It's just one of those times when there's too much going around in your head to feel like sleeping, although I think my body is exhausted! I had dinner really late though as I was doing some more work on the computer..a students life, eh? I like the late night thinking sessions though...most of the time. Since my last post (which wasn't very long ago!) I've been thinking more about the Feminist issue and I really urge you to look at www.thefword.org.uk because it covers a lot of issues that matter to Feminists and women from all walks of life. It's easy to read and you will find that a lot of it makes sense. I sometimes get the feeling that men feel defensive about some of the issues brought up by Feminism, mostly because men perhaps feel that feminists/women are criticising them. On the other hand, feminists are trying to make the world a better place for both men and women, free of the constraints and pressures that make them feel they have to fit certain ideals and roles within society.

I for one, contrary to belief (like most people think feminists think), think that being a mother and father is one of the most magical and responsible things anyone can do, but at the same time this doesn't mean, by biological default, that women are meant to stay at home, cook and do everything around the house - parenting and domestic stuff shouldn't be prescribed to just one person. It's about equality, not making a matriarchal society, but a fair society. Until the normalization of pornographic images stops and is put back where they belong (out of the public domain and into places where people go if they are looking for that kind of thing), we cannot have a truly equal and safer society. There have been studies that show that so called 'lads mags' often have hard core pornographic images and yet they are in public, next to teenager magazines and childrens comics etc. I find this horrifying because children and teenagers are subjected to these images at an even earlier age. Newsagents are reluctant to remove them in some cases because they generate so much profit. I found, as a young woman, that newspapers such as the Sun and earlier versions of 'lads mags' made me feel uncomfortable and violated especially when read by young men my own age.

Some people say that some images in pornography or in lads mags are 'empowering' to women. How are they empowering? They perpetuate the dominant image of women as submissive, constantly in submissive or provocative positions. Especially those considered 'dominating' because they wear leather or pvc and wield whips should not be seen as empowering because they are acting out particular male fantasies. I defy any woman to feel comfortable or empowered by wearing a leather catsuit or being subjected to pain by whipping or so on. Most women going in for S&M do so because their partner is interested in it (most fetishes are male perpetuated, such as feet fetishes which involves crippling women by the wearing of ever higher high heels). The best book that covers these things is by Sheila Jeffreys called 'Beauty and Misogyny' (2005).

She also points out that women shaving their pubic hair and undergoing vaginal and labia surgery often do so because they believe that their genitals should look like those of porn stars and they believe that, because their partners or husbands use pornography, they find this attractive. Most women have no idea what their genitals are meant to look like in reality and I find this sad because no part of a female body is safe anymore. I think men with fetishes of parts of a woman's body are not appreciating the person and body as a whole, as a person they should respect and care about.

I am not criticising individual women who undertake such practices but I believe that if there were no pressures like this then we would all appreciate our bodies and not subject them to awful torture under the name of 'surgery' or 'beauty practices'. We would feel that our bodies are precious - they are, after all, the only ones that we have. We should all be appreciated as individual, and love ourselves instead of inflicting such pain, cutting and moulding things to size through dieting, surgery, waxing and other painful procedures which serve to lower self esteem and make women feel as though they are 'worthless' as they are.

Well..I know I've done my fair share of ranting and stuff recently but it really is food for thought. I mean, nobody flinches anymore when they see surgery being filmed on TV, or when they see a woman on her hands and knees in a so called 'provocative' pose. Men would object if every woman's magazine was covered with naked men in submissive poses, pouting at the camera, objectified. Men would object if they were suddenly pressured to remove their body hair and cut up their genitals and chests. Why should women feel such pressure? We are not sex objects and should never have to be. Relationships should be based on mutual love and understanding and respect for each other's bodies.

Hmm..anyway! I promise my next blog post will be about something different (maybe!). Don't be alarmed if I don't post for a while as I'll be hard at work writing essays! :)

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Thursday, March 02, 2006

Moon River....

So..what's been happening recently? Well..it's March now, yippee!! That means lots of daffodils and tulips and snowdrops everywhere :-) I did the pancake day thing but I have to agree with my boyfriend, despite being brought up as a Church of England Christian, I'm just not a religious person. The concept of Lent is interesting - giving up things etc, but theres so many things to give up that I can't decide what to give up anyway! That would be chocolate, nutella spread and stuff like that..although I stopped taking sugar in my tea ages ago and don't like adding extra salt (I'm a pepper kind of person). Although I have to say that I substitute sweetener for sugar instead..oh well.

I think being a better person sounds good..I've got some very bad things about me like having a tendency to take things to heart too often (resulting in misunderstandings and tears before bedtime), I can be jealous and I'm very stubborn and argumentative about things that I don't exactly agree with or feel bad about. But I think as long as everyone KNOWS what their bad points are, we can always try to control them and try not to get worked up. It is human to have bad and good points, if everyone was really good and nice it would be a little boring I guess. I like to think that sometimes my being argumentative can be valid, especially with things that I'm passionate about.

I had my last lectures and seminars for this degree yesterday. It feels a little sad, because I've seen almost the same people for the past three years - although I don't know them that well, you sometimes get to know alot about people by the things they argue about or talk about in seminars. Like, people who are vegetarian and think that all meat eating is unnecessary and a bad cultural habit. I guess I kind of agree with that, although I really like my chicken and don't know if I could give it up just like that. I mean, I feel quite guilty about the way that our society farms nowadays with battery farming and the "killing machines" etc. Like a lot of things in this society, in this world, it is another form of violence, whether we like it or not.

We have too much control over everything, over animals and nature. I think we really have a bad relationship with the world around us, whether we choose to or not. I know I'm not perfect, but I like to think that in some ways I appreciate that our world is something to be looked after and to appreciate. We have to live here and we're steadily ruining the environment and ecosystem by emitting fuels and not recycling and wasting things. It's shocking that a lot of people have become so detached from the realities of life, that we are born, live and die - and we have a responsibility to respect our planet, even if we don't agree with some of the 'disasters' it goes through, to at least understand that we cannot control it all.

Another niggle I've been thinking about recently is how Western society STILL objectifies women through the media and everywhere. I mean, we're still a long way from equality, although a lot of people think it's time to stop thinking about feminism because it's become a dirty word and everyone thinks we're all equal anyway. It may seem as though women have choice but theres still this feeling that women have to look attractive for men, that theres a certain mould we have to fit. Cosmetic surgery is the most extreme form of this - the current procedures now involve reconstructing the hymen to create 'virginity' and making the vagina 'tighter' because women think men want this. Another procedure makes the labia the same size (even though every womens parts are different). Some people seem to think that Feminism is sexist (!!) because it doesn't focus on men as well all the time.

It is appreciated that men, as well as women, are also objectified and portrayed in ways that show men as 'stupid' or whatever, some feminists concentrate more on this than others do. It just appears obvious that women tend to be objectified more often and they have much less agency within society than men do. There are alot of debates about what extent we can call the choices we make 'choices' because no matter what people do, they tend to be labelled as fitting feminine or masculine norms even if they feel empowered (ie. women body builders feel pressure to look feminine by wearing makeup and enhancing things even though their sport is seen as non conformist).

It might be seen as 'choices' that women make and I don't think these women who have surgery are stupid. I just think that choosing to have surgery is another way of wearing a corset or chinese foot binding and other extreme, harmful practices. Things can go wrong - I mean, its people cutting up their bodies for the sake of some 'ideal', because they feel that their bodies should look a certain way, not appreciating that their bodies are fine, everyone is different.

There's not enough education about women's nether regions - we are defined as women through our breasts rather than our lower parts as men are often defined. It's all about imagery, how subtle pressures exert themselves on women (and men). Why should the media dictate what we, as men and women, should want? I believe that as individuals (not men and women) we should be free to express ourselves, without the restraint of what the media or fashion says 'looks good'. I love clothes, but I don't dress for anyone else, I dress for myself and what feels good, and I'm sure there are women out there who feel the same. I just think it's a shame that we have these particular categories that seem to define what it means to be a man or a woman, what our sexuality should be like and so on.

Theres no real alternative for heterosexual women (and men) at the moment - women are meant to be a certain way and so are men, but this has nothing to do with biology as some might justify. I think it's cultural pressures that make people believe that it is acceptable to say that women are irrational and emotional and that men are rational and calm - it would be a better world if we all took people at their individual value rather than putting labels on each other. It is difficult to step out of cultural norms though, and even my gay gender and society tutor finds it difficult to not be defined as feminine on a daily basis, because she is a woman.

I don't know whether there is an answer for anything - women and men are reluctant to challenge these norms because either they see nothing wrong with the way things are or they feel that theres no point because nothing would change anyway. I think it's kind of sad in a way, theres so many norms that oppress people in today's society, that don't get challenged very often. I don't think feminist is a dirty word, women have been oppressed for centuries and it's only a recent thing for women to be working and having some kind of agency over their lives. I think the world would be a better place if everyone respected difference even if we don't quite understand it.

Why should everything we do be defined as being so because we are masculine or feminine? If I want to wear a skirt because I like the material and the feel of it, why does wearing a skirt mean that I am more 'feminine' or 'ladylike'? I am a woman and we may have different biological characteristics but biological determinism denies us our rights to be seen as more than just our sex, more than feminine or masculine. Until it feels that we do certain things because we are expressing ourselves and it can be seen that way rather than as something we do because we are women or men (ie. like being more emotional than some people are), then I still think we have a long way to go.

Anyway, I've added some links on the right that may be of interest if you want to think more about this kind of thing!

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