Fate is Chance. Destiny is Choice.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

My life at the moment...

At the moment, I am in a stressful continuum of time to try and get my 10,000 word project essay done in three weeks. I've got the questionnaires back, have put all the data and demographics into a coding system and put it in microsoft excel. In the meantime, I am also trying to read as much as possible because a lack of time during the Easter break meant that I was doing my lesser 5000 word essays. Basically, my days are broken up into mealtimes, reading and watching TV. Last week I only went out once..what fun.

Anyway, I also bought the fifth and sixth series of Charmed - I love the idea of witches/magic and paranormal happenings. Which is probably why I bought the first series of The X-Files the other day from play.com! Well...it was on special offer *grins*. I've always had these memories of watching the X-Files and feeling rather spooked about it all! The theme tune is rather creepy too - I'm not sure what instruments are used but its the kind that make your armhairs stand on end :-D

My lovely partner is coming down from Scotland at the weekend so I'm looking forward to that :) I miss actually talking to someone other than my housemate! A couple of weeks without seeing family or friends can drive you mad (most of friends are at home you see).

I suppose I better go and do some more reading. The computer is far too distracting...so many blogs to read and comment on, so little time :-)


Saturday, May 13, 2006

Thinking is good for your health...;)

I've been away for a while - mostly just trawling feminist blogs and commenting and stuff. Particularly on 'I'm not a Feminist But..." where a couple of anti-feminist trolls have been stating their case for "what about white heterosexual middle class men??". Laura was posting about how particular men seem to hate women when they do bad things to them - go and read it to see what a good post it is. Also, this paragraph sums up how some men react to feminist blogs:

"This is what people seem to expect from women's blogs. All happiness and light, nothing threatening or frightening. Men in particular will be harshly critical of their female friends for not "bucking up" and pulling themselves out of a situation by sheer grit and determination. I see men criticize women for caring about what others think (ignoring the fact that women are taught from birth to adjust their behavior based on the reactions of those around them), I see men criticize women for being "so broken up" over rape, and blame them for blaming themselves (see, when it happens to us guys, we blame the person who did it, not ourselves! - ignoring that all of society blames a woman for being raped, but sees the rape of a man as the ultimate tragedy) I see men criticize women for not speaking up more (oblivious to their own hypocrisy of criticizing them for speaking up even in their own blog.) "Get over it!" is the message. "Stop bothering us with your unplesant feelings! We don't care that this world makes you miserable - in fact, we think all your misery is your own fault!"

Being the rebellious brat I have been my entire life, my response to this kind of unfair pressure is to sulk even more visibly. I realize this may not work for everyone, but I would like to encourage any woman reading this not to give in to the pressure to squelch your feleings in order to make someone else more comfortable. After all, when men have problems, women are supposed to be understanding and sympathetic. Why should we not expect the same treatment in return?" (From 'Screaming into the Void')

Why on earth do so many people slag off feminists and turn it around and say they are sexist for wanting to make things better for women without thinking about men too? If men want to make things better then they are welcome to do it but not at the expense of feminists and women because they are the other half of the world. Men do hate women when they think misogynistic thoughts and objectify women and make 'jokes' about their bodies (ie. breast remarks, etc) and hurt them.

I've been educating myself much more on feminism and figuring out the arguments and finding that I agree with them. It seems absurd once you think about all of the things once you are enlightened: why women have to change their names to show their 'availability' like Miss and Mrs and so on. Men don't have to do this at all - they stay Mr their whole lives. Why women have to change their surnames and men don't. Why women are socialised from birth to wear pink, to wear restricting clothes that don't allow them to run around freely and safely. If little boys had to wear skirts and shoes with slippery soles, there would be a public outcry! Why girls are told to be 'polite' and that they should apologise for things that boys don't - like having a loud laugh instead of a giggle.

I've also been thinking about male privilege. Now, I know we have made waves with women being in employment and so on. But think about it: most of the top jobs in the country are men. Understand: to all the people who think I'm saying it is men's fault and men's fault only: no, I am not 'blaming' men, I am saying that patriarchy is to blame. It is inherent in our socialisation, in our culture, in organisations, to the point at which there are many more women disadvantaged compared to men. I DO blame the men who hurt women, rape them and force them to do things that make them unhappy, who use pornography and think it's okay to treat a woman as you would in a porn film.

Women are PEOPLE, not sex objects. Neither are men sex objects. We all think of men as people so why doesn't society see women as people? Is it because they do the most wonderfully important job of giving birth to our future generations? I respect mothers, they have a rough deal: it's not enough to bring up a child, but they have to be a housewife, career person and sex object all at once. That is what some men think. That is the height of misogyny.

Male privilege means that in a lot of things, men are considered first, women second. I don't want women to be considered first but I want them to be considered as human beings too. Not as sex objects for men to look at, but as human beings that they engage with on intellectual and social levels. I'm not discounting that we all have sexual urges: but there are many myths about male and female sexuality. Women are more emotional because they haven't repressed themselves emotionally. Men are so called 'less' emotional because they are suppressing their feelings. This isn't healthy.

In sociology I learnt that men feel the pressure to 'measure up' to a macho stereotype: and if they don't, they are seen as 'feminine', 'weak', 'a girl'. WHY is being called a 'girl' an insult? For me, although I am emotional, I see it as being passionate about things. I'm passionate about life, about love, about the things I care about. Why is macho language geared up to seeing that anything unmacho is 'feminine' or 'weak'? The implication is that women are weak. On the contrary, I think allowing yourself to express your emotions makes you stronger. It releases tension, allows yourself to get through it and feel better. When I cry, I feel better afterwards, more relaxed and ready to face problems. When I feel sad, I allow myself to feel sad and write about it or listen to music. I don't think emotion is 'feminine'; I think it is human.

If we stop feeling things, we become numb. We hurt ourselves, allow ourselves to be hurt. We become tolerant of violence in the news, in films, real violence happening in front of us. We become numb to the possibility of life, of how we can be happy, fulfilled human beings. If we are numb; we have no compassion, we allow bad things to happen to other people, to animals and children. A lot of things in this society I think have numbed people, we cannot help but see visions of violence and tragedy on TV and in newspapers and just forget them, or feel a particular indifference. I am teaching myself to feel when I watch TV and films, which is why I am having reactions out of the usual and shouting at the screen. If we become indifferent to pain then life becomes meaningless.

Think about the pain women have to endure: waxing, childbirth, sexist comments, space invasion, rape, violence, blaming (women often get blamed for things that their partners do when married, believe it or not) and are discredited when they try to highlight these problems. Some people have said that men get raped too - and yes they do, but they get raped by other MEN. I don't exactly know what the answer is, but I think in the meantime people should stop doing things that objectify women (and men) and begin to think of women in terms of a brain, a heart and personality. Not breasts, butts and legs or whatever. Not a body, but a person.

Have a good weekend! :)

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Thursday, May 04, 2006

Blogging Against Disablism

Monday was blogging against disablism day. Granted, I'm a bit late but I hope to explain to the world my view about 'disability' and the experiences I've had.

In the UK there are 1 in 7 people who we call 'disabled'. Likewise, there are 1 in 7 people in the UK who are deaf, partially deaf, deafened or hearing impaired. BSL (British sign-language users) take the label 'Deaf' with a big D - either to indicate that they use sign-language, and also to indicate that they are immersed in the deaf community or are proud of their deafness. Depending on how political you want to get, people who use the word 'deaf' with a little d usually consider themselves oral - perhaps they know a little sign language but for the most part they are oral and don't always associate themselves with the deaf community.

As for myself, I feel that these labels are unnecessary because they still create gaps between a group that should feel pride in their culture and language (BSL). However, if you were getting technical, my deafness is described as 'Profound' and I suppose I label myself as deaf with the little d. I know quite a lot of sign language and feel that I want to learn more, especially since I may be working closely with deaf people and organizations some day.

I recently went to the DeafDay at CityLit in Covent Garden. It was really interesting and reminded me of how noisy and animated deaf people are when they get together, especially when signing. I think it's a misperception that deaf people are quiet and isolated and don't know 'how' to talk. I loathe the 'deaf and dumb' stereotype that still permeates our culture. It's so important that people get past this whole 'disabled' thing and accept that there are people all over the world who are different and have interesting stories to tell. Our culture is saturated with the ethos that we need to be 'able-bodied' to fully take part in society. It's a medical and social barrier that we have to face - that people may be patronising or think we cannot 'do' something.

My own experiences of discrimination and 'disablism' are numerous. My boyfriend once told me that someone had said to him that 'it must be hard' to be with a deaf person. Well excuse me - it is these kind of comments that really piss me off about our society. Why should I be pitied? I'm an intelligent, strong person and if I wasn't deaf I don't think I would be the person I am today. It's this 'pity' thing that really gets me annoyed. It makes me feel as though I need to 'prove' myself to people - why should I? I've already passed my A Levels, nearly finished my degree and I'm a fairly happy person who wants to get out into society and change attitudes towards deafness, disability and women.

I miss things about people perhaps that other people can see since they can hear. But I observe people and their body language, the way they talk and act and I think I pick up alot that way about people. I prefer it when people look at me when I am talking just as I need to look at them to lipread. I may come across as quiet but there is alot going on in my brain - I do alot of thinking.

I like to watch the world go by when I'm sitting in a cafe. I think observing people's behaviour towards you shows you things that you can't pick up by talking. People often don't address me directly if they want to talk to me - they either ask my boyfriend, Mum or someone else there. I think this is disrespectful and assumes that I am dependent on everyone else. I'm not. I'm really like my independence when I am at University, and do everything for myself.

I wouldn't say that I'm an expert on everything to do with deafness and disability. But for me, people's ignorance and ideas about disability still affect my life and present me with a host of difficulties. I know that there are a lot of deaf people out there facing even worse problems than I do at the moment because of a lack of understanding and tolerance in our society.

I think for deaf people, since deafness is often hidden, this creates even more problems. I sometimes still lack the confidence to ask people things, for directions or asking for drinks at a cafe or bar - because I am afraid of being misunderstood - not because I can't talk but because my voice can be slightly quiet as in noisy places my hearing aids amplify all background noises and therefore I cannot hear my voice. I also think my voice gets tense when I'm nervous!

The point is - life is different for people with different degrees of hearing whether they lipread, sign or still have quite a lot of hearing left. I think everyone should be considered as individuals and not be labelled so as to 'categorise' them. Everyone has their different experiences, and instead of ignoring them, maybe we can learn more about our world and it's negatives and positives and change them.

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